Pugh missed the past four games with a back injury. He tried to return to practice last Wednesday but couldn’t make it through the entire session. Pugh had an MRI and met with Dr. Robert Watkins, an orthopedic surgeon based in California, earlier this week. Dr. Watkins didn’t recommend surgery, instead prescribing rest and rehab.
Pugh was selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Syracuse. He started all 63 games he’s appeared in. He’s the fifth-longest tenured Giant behind quarterback Eli Manning, long snapper Zak DeOssie, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and linebacker Mark Herzlich (who is also on injured reserve).
This will be the fourth consecutive season Pugh hasn’t played all 16 games, missing 17 games in that span.
The Giants will have to make a decision on Pugh. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be highly sought after in a thin year for offensive linemen. Pugh, generally regarded as the Giants’ best offensive lineman, started three games at the left guard spot and five games at right tackle this season.
Pugh first felt the pain in his back in the Week 6 win against the Denver Broncos, where he outplayed five-time All-Pro linebacker Von Miller. He wanted to return to finish the season, despite the Giants’ NFC-worst 2-11 record.
“Yeah, I would think any guy that’s in that situation would be a little bit bummed out,” interim head coach/defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “You’d have to ask him specifically, but he’s a football player, likes playing the game and I’m sure he’s disappointed he’s not going to play the rest of the season.”