A few hours after expressing doubt about the future playing career of DE-OLB Mathias Kiwanuka during a session with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Giants GM Jerry Reese released a statement that was much more optimistic regarding the 27-year-old.
"After I spoke to the media this morning at the Combine, I had a conversation with (head trainer) Ronnie Barnes, who confirmed for me that last night we did receive the final written evaluation that gives Mathias medical clearance to return to the field," Reese said in a statement issued through Giants' PR department. "The consensus of all of the spine physicians and Dr. (Russ) Warren is that it is safe for Mathias to return to play. I have talked to Mathias and he is fully committed to returning to football."
That means that Kiwanuka, who missed most of the 2010 season with a herniated disc in his neck and whose playing career was in jeopardy, now will be able to enter free agency once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed.
Unless, of course, the Giants, reach a deal with him to keep him in New York. Kiwanuka has been in the Giants' facility working with trainers this offseason. Without a new CBA in place by March 3, Kiwanuka will have to take his rehab outside the building and out of the hands of the Giants' doctors.
On Friday, head coach Tom Coughlin said that Kiwanuka "seems to be doing well" and was able to avoid surgery.
"I don't think the final hurdle has been overcome, but the arrow is in the right direction," Coughlin said. "It's been positive."
The way we see it
This is great news for Kiwanuka, who has established himself as a versatile playmaker at two spots in his NFL career. The big questions are: Will Kiwanuka be able to continue making progress away from the team facility in the even of a lockout and will the Giants re-sign him or let him go because of his injury history?