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Mathias Kiwanuka of New York Giants Placed On Injured Reserve

Fearing that the herniated disc in his neck will not heal in time for him to play this season, the New York Giants have placed defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka on injured reserve.

Have they also ended the 27-year-old former first-round draft pick's career in New York?

Kiwanuka’s future is now a mystery, and not just because of the herniated disc - - which was originally diagnosed as a bulging disc, before he saw Dr. Robert Watkins, a spine specialist, in Los Angeles last week. A herniated disc is what ended linebacker Antonio Pierce’s career midway through the 2009 season, so a full recovery is not a guarantee.

Even if he does recover, however, Kiwanuka does not have a contract for 2011. Presumably the fifth-year veteran will be an unrestricted free agent, though his exact status won’t be known until the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. Kiwanuka previously had expressed some frustration that the Giants hadn’t already offered him a contract extension.

It’s not clear if he’d be willing to sign one now, or if the Giants would even be willing to commit to a player with a disc problem in his neck.

The Giants had been using Kiwanuka in a variety of roles -- defensive end, linebacker and defensive tackle -- and have since begun giving some of that responsibility to Justin Tuck and rookie Jason Pierre-Paul. Kiwanuka had four sacks in the first three games this season before being sidelined.