Nicks broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot while running a route during a Thursday morning practice session, the team announced.
According to a news release issued by the team, Nicks will undergo surgery on Friday in Charlotte, N.C., where Dr. Robert Anderson will insert a screw into the broken bone.
Nicks faces an expected recovery time of 12 weeks, meaning that he will likely miss most, if not all, of the team's 2012 training camp, which is scheduled to begin at the University of Albany on July 26.
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Asked if Nicks will be ready for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday, Sept. 5, Coughlin said that "it's probably going to be close."
"He feels very confident about it," Coughlin said. "The doctors have expressed it as being something that they think will heal very, very well."
However, Coughlin acknowledged that if Nicks takes the full 12 weeks to recover, "you're going to be sitting right up next to that opening game, and we certainly hope that Hakeem is correct in saying that he heals fast."
Coughlin said that when Nicks was injured, he was running the route as normal, then "all of a sudden, he started limping. I thought he rolled his ankle over; well, it wasn't his ankle."
A 2009 first-round pick out of North Carolina, Nicks has 202 receptions for 3,034 yards and 24 touchdowns over a 42-game career with the Giants. Over the last two seasons, Nicks has averaged 78 receptions for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns. Nicks led all receivers in the 2011 postseason with 28 receptions for 444 yards, and he tied for the postseason lead with four touchdowns.
With Nicks out for an extended period of time, and Mario Manningham having departed for the San Francisco 49ers via free agency, the team will likely give more reps to 2012 second-round pick Rueben Randle and recent third-round picks Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan. Victor Cruz, who grabbed 82 catches for 1,536 yards and nine scores in 2011, also gains considerable leverage as he looks for a raise over the $540,000 he's currently scheduled to make in 2012.
Coughlin was given the Outstanding Civilian Service Award by the U.S. Army in a special ceremony on Wednesday.
Be sure to catch the entirety of Coughlin's interview with NFL Network when it airs as part of a special Memorial Day episode of "Total Access" at 7 p.m. ET on Monday.