New York Giants offensive lineman Nick Gates might never return to the football field.
Gates went to the hospital near the Washington Football Team's stadium after fracturing his leg in last Thursday's game and has not yet been released after undergoing surgery last Friday.
Giants head coach Joe Judge said Gates needs another procedure to address the fracture, adding he'd "be lying if I said no" when asked if Gates' career may be over as a result of the injury.
However, the franchise is optimistic Gates will return next season.
More Joe Judge on Nick Gates: “We’re confident he’ll be able to come back, but yes, it could be career-ending.”— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) September 23, 2021
Gates started at center during Week 1 and left guard in Week 2. The Giants will start their third different offensive line combo in as many weeks when they face the Atlanta Falcons this weekend.
The Giants added Gates to injured reserve earlier this week, and at the time, Judge praised him for being a great leader.
"Nick's a key figure for us, he really is," Judge said, according to Giants Wire. "He's a guy that the entire time we've been here he's been a team-first guy, he's been an all-in guy, he's a guy that comes to work every day with a great amount of energy and enthusiasm. We're still going to rely on him to do that.
"As he gets better and comes through his healing process, we want to keep him as involved with the team as possible. This guy was voted captain by his teammates for a reason and that's for leadership. This guy has done a lot of unselfish things and I believe he'll continue to have an impact on the team."
The 25-year-old undrafted lineman was voted an offensive captain this summer. He said the honor "gave him chills."
Gates has been with the Giants since 2019 and hadn't missed a game since entering the NFL.