EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the Bengals traded current Giants linebacker Keith Rivers this offseason, they shipped away a highly talented former first-round pick who struggled to stay on the field.
As Rivers returns to Cincinnati this weekend, he still hasn’t been able to shed that label. Rivers is questionable for Sunday’s game with a calf injury and could be in danger of missing his fifth game of the season, which would be half of the games the Giants have played this year.
The Bengals selected Rivers with the ninth-pick in the 2008 Draft to be a staple of their defense for years to come, but it never worked out that way. A jaw injury shortened his rookie year, and he played just 28 games over the next three seasons with the Bengals.
Rivers looks back on his time with Cincinnati with good memories. The linebacker said the move to trade him to the Giants for a fifth-round pick was a mutual decision and he said there were a lot of moving parts to the deal.
“Things happened and we weren’t really on the same page and it was great to get a fresh start,” Rivers said, adding that his role on the team wasn’t part of the reason for the trade.
After being traded to the Giants, Rivers worked hard to make sure he was healthy and showcase what he could do. He looked the part of a dynamic linebacker as he had seven total tackles in the opener against the Cowboys, but a hamstring injury would knock him out three of the next four games.
Rivers played in three straight games before having to miss last Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh with a calf injury. He practiced on Thursday and Friday this week, but Giants head coach Tom Coughlin didn’t make it seem like Rivers is automatically going to be suiting up against Cincinnati.
“We’re going to have to see. If you’re a member of the dressed squad, you have to do a lot of things. His issue is special teams; he has to play special teams, etc,” Coughlin said Thursday. “He has a lot of things he would have to do. If he’s capable of doing that, he’d be a strong consideration."
The linebacker said when he’s been on the field, he’s been able to make plays, but getting on the field has proved to be a tall task for the 26-year-old. He hopes he would able to overcome his injury problems in New York, but unfortunately for Rivers, it’s once again taken him off the field.
“That’s kind of been the bad luck for me is injuries,” Rivers said of injuries keeping him from showcasing his abilities in Cincinnati. “I don’t think it’s ever been a question of my play. I think it’s a question of being healthy.”