Nick Gates
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

When Giants center Nick Gates suffered a brutal broken leg last season, former head coach Joe Judge expressed concern it could be a career-ending injury.

Gates’ agent denied that assertion at the time. But eight months later, it sounds like Gates’ future is very much in doubt. Gates told The Athletic in a recent interview he is not sure when, if ever, he will return to the field.

“I don’t even know,” Gates said. “It’s so hard to tell. It’s slow. I don’t know if I’ll definitely be able to play again, but that’s my goal. I want to.”

Gates broke his fibula and tibia in Week 2 last season. He later developed compartment syndrome and has had seven surgeries in total. Gates is currently rehabbing inside the Giants facility and has not been on the field during OTAs so far. There is no timetable for when he could participate.

Gates will likely open training camp with an active roster physically unable to perform designation. That means he will count against the 90-man roster, but will not practice. He can be moved off the active/PUP list at any point during camp.

If Gates is not ready by the end of the summer, he would move to the PUP reserve list. Players on PUP reserve do not count against the active roster and must sit out the first six weeks of the season. Gates would then have a five-week window to begin practice, and the Giants would have a three-week window starting with his first practice to determine whether he will play in 2022. Once one of the deadlines passes, Gates would be placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season.

General manager Joe Schoen addressed the interior of the offensive line more than some believed he would this offseason — perhaps a sign the Giants are not expecting much from Gates. Schoen signed veteran free agents Jon Feliciano, Max Garcia and Mark Glowinski and drafted North Carolina’s Josh Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan in the third and fifth rounds, respectively.

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Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.