While Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin rarely plays starters more than a series in the final preseason game, if at all, there’s one starter who’s been pining to get some extended work — wideout Hakeem Nicks.
The fourth-year veteran, who is working his way back from a broken foot after being cleared to practice full-speed just last week, said he’d like to really break a sweat on Wednesday against the Patriots.
“In my first initial week back at practice, [my thinking] was just, ‘Get your feet back up under you,’” Nicks said. “But [Sunday], I felt like I opened it up a little bit. I was sprinting to the end zone, running my routes full speed, [doing] all the right things, [including] doing the right releases and stuff like that.”
Coughlin was his usual covert self when asked if Nicks will play versus New England.
“We’ll see,” said Coughlin in his customary brevity, adding that most of the starters on both sides of the ball may not last long. “As of right now, yes [the starters will play some]. Now, a series? I don’t know, but that could change.”
Nicks isn’t as well-versed in top-secret situations as the military-trained Coughlin, so he was more forthcoming with what he knew.
“As of right now, I was told I’m going to take some snaps,” said Nicks, who was activated off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list two weeks ago. “But if they decide to change, I’m sure they’ll let me know. Whatever decision they make, I’ll roll with it.”
Nicks has looked like his old self in the little time he’s been on the practice field, but those are controlled sessions with little to no contact. Getting knocked around and having his surgically-repaired broken foot stepped on in live action is another thing.
Either way, Eli Manning’s favorite option said he’d rather take his chance and knock off some rust in anticipation of next week’s season opener against the Cowboys.
“Being able to catch the ball and knowing you have to make a real move and turn it on a little bit before you have to play the real season is good,” said Nicks, who added he might actually have an advantage thanks to his time off. “I have fresh legs, so testing it a little bit, having to really get a good release versus some real legit coverage, and going against [another] team, that’s what I’m looking forward to. … I feel like I can just run [non-stop] and I think it’ll help me later in the season rather than sooner. Hopefully later in the season my legs are still feeling somewhat fresh or better than they’d be feeling normally around that time of the season.”
Whatever Coughlin and the training staff decide, Nicks said he’ll “definitely” be ready for the Cowboys.
“If the season was last week, I could play,” he said.
Big Blue notes
»Monday was the first cut-down day, as teams had to pare their rosters from 90 to 75. There weren’t any big names on the Giants’ list, but there were some notables. Cornerbacks Antwaun Molden and former Rutgers star Brandon Bing were axed. Molden is a peculiar case because the Giants signed him from New England to give them depth. He was a former starter for the Pats, including during last season’s playoffs. Promising tight end Christian Hopkins was a victim of the logjam at the position. Safety Chris Horton, a former starter in Washington, was also cut. Former New Jersey Player of the Year and Rutgers star Joe Martinek also didn’t survive the first wave.
»Defensive end Chris Canty (knee) and tight end Travis Beckum (knee) were both placed on the PUP list, which means they’ll miss the first six weeks of the regular season and won’t be able to be activated until Oct. 16. After that, the Giants have a three week window — between Week 6 and Week 9 — to allow them to practice and place them on the active roster. Following that, the league mandates that any player still on PUP be placed on season-ending injured reserve (IR).
» Rookie offensive lineman Brandon Mosley, the second of the team’s two fourth-round draft choices, was placed on season-ending IR with an ankle injury.
» The next cut-down day is Friday at 9 p.m. EST.
»Cornerback Terrell Thomas (ACL) is hoping to begin running this week and then work his way back to practice. The jury is still out on whether Coughlin and the trainers will deem Thomas not ready and place him on season-ending IR.
»Reserve safety Tyler Sash, who was suspended four games by the league for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs on March 22, met with commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday. Sash contends he didn’t have the proper paperwork filed before using Adderall, a substance that is not banned by the league. Teammate Andre Brown was also suspended for using Adderall, but the ruling was reversed, so there is precedence. Should Sash get cleared by the league, he may not even be able to get back to work, as the bone spurs in his ankle have proven quite cumbersome.
And if Goodell doesn’t shorten Sash’s suspension, the player will have to find a location to rehab his injury and maintain his football shape for a month because he won’t be allowed to use the Giants’ facilities.
»Left tackle Will Beatty (back) practiced on Monday, albeit sparingly. Coughlin said they’ll take his practice participation “day-to-day.”
»Defensive end Justin Tuck (shoulder) didn’t practice, as he took a trip to the Hospital for Special Surgery to undergo precautionary tests from team doctor Russell Warren. Offensive lineman James Brewer also made the trip, prompting Coughlin to quip that with all the missing players at Monday’s practice, they all “hired a bus to take everyone.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.