Giants’ tight end Larry Donnell, who on Friday gave everyone a big scare when after catching a pass he landed awkwardly on his knee, wasn’t supposed to play in this, the Giants’ second preseason game.
But try telling that to Donnell, the first year player out of Grambling who spent his rookie season on the Giants practice squad and who this year has made enough progress to where he is very much in the mix for a spot on the final roster after showing his versatility at not just the tight end position but also as the backup fullback.
“Once I was cleared by the doctors, I told them the only way I wasn’t going to play is if the leg wasn’t there,” Donnell said.
“I take my hat off to Larry Donnell,” said head coach Tom Coughlin. “He hurt himself the other day in practice (and) I was afraid it was serious.”
Tests, however, revealed that Donnell, who told Inside Football that he heard a pop in his knee when he landed awkwardly, hadn’t damaged any of his ligaments, and he was diagnosed with a sprained knee.
“We thought he’d be sore,” Coughlin said. “He vowed that he wanted to play and had the doctors and the trainers with him on the field this morning, and he ran and went through a series of exercises and the medical people cleared him to play.”
Want even more good news? Donnell said after the game that he felt great after playing in a handful of snaps.
“Everything well and I feel fine, so I went ahead and played,” he said. “I think I did really good. I had a couple of plays and I blocked so I think I played well tonight.”
“His attitude really more than anything else determined that he wanted to play and he did,” added Coughlin.
Donnell did admit that initially he was very concerned after he landed awkwardly. “I just came down on it wrong and felt like something popped so I was more scared than anything, so we just wanted to make sure that everything was ok.”
So when he got the good news that everything was intact and he was cleared to play, there was no question in his mind about whether to sit this one out or to play.
“Once I was cleared by the doctors, I told them the only way I wasn’t going to play is if the leg wasn’t there,” Donnell said. “Everything well and I feel fine so I went ahead and played. I think I did really good. I had a couple of plays and I blocked, so I think I played well tonight.”
Moving forward, Donnell said he doesn’t expect to miss any practice time, though he admits that the medical staff might limit him to make sure he’s good to continue on his journey toward a roster spot.
“If they let me go, I’m going,” he said. “As long as I feel well, I’m going.”
That’s because despite his positive press clippings, Donnell still feels like he has much more to show the coaching staff.
“I feel like my work is never done and there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “That’s just the goal to get better and do more things and to get stronger.”