Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is a man of many catchphrases.
One of his favorite phrases is “all hands on deck” and with the upstart Buccaneers coming to town, that may be the most important.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara may be the sweetest sight for sore eyes, considering the second-year corner wasn’t even running until Sunday afternoon. But Amukamara participated on a limited basis yesterday and said he’s getting better with each practice.
“He picked up where we left off Monday [but] he does have some issues,” Coughlin said. “He’s just fighting his way through them. Hopefully he’ll be fine for the game. We'll find out more [throughout the week].”
Amukamara, on the other hand, said he’s “very optimistic” about playing on Sunday, let alone getting through practices.
“There’s always a sense of urgency in my head, just trying to get back on the field,” Amukamara said. “But of course just with our cornerback situation and with guys going down, that does put pressure on me to try to get back on the field that much more. … I’m doing everything I can. If there was a magic pill I’d take it.”
The fact that he’s now missed two straight season openers, beginning to get weary of the “injury prone” label and the current state of the beaten up secondary, Amukamara said it’s imperative he gets back on the field.
“I do striders and cone-drills, and I plant and back-pedal [at practices],” said Amukamara. “I feel good. I’m not running how I’m used to, but I still feel good out there. I’m just taking it day by day. … I bounce up and down at my house, hopping and I do jumping-jacks, stuff like that, and feel comfortable doing so. I’m a little bit sore now but that pain will go away.”
Since Terrell Thomas is out for the year again, and Amukamara’s backup, Coe, has been struggling with hamstring injuries, Amukamara said he almost feels obligated to further test his ankle, even if it means rushing back too soon.
Defensive captain Justin Tuck scoffed at the notion that by returning to the field quickly helps Amukamara’s image.
“Yeah, stupidity,” Tuck said with a chuckle when asked if Amukamara’s early return means something. “I don’t think his toughness has ever been questioned. He’s a tough-minded guy and that’ll get better. Hopefully this new injury won’t be a setback mentally because he was making great strides.”
Coe is also making strides, as he believes he will be ready to play on Sunday. Coe was second in line to replace Thomas but once Amukamara went down, the young veteran was tabbed to make his first career start. He didn’t finish the game and Justin Tryon was then called in, who the Cowboys happily exploited.
But by Sunday, Coe feels he’ll be ready to play — if only as a nickelback — depending on Amukamara’s availability.
“I feel pretty good about going in and practicing the rest of the week, so I’m pretty hopeful for that,” Coe said. “I’ve been running about 75 [to] 80 percent and have been able to do everything; backpedal and change directions, and do some of those things, so I feel good about it.”
Big Blue notes
»Amukamara is learning the ropes of answering questions with standard replies, as he refused to take the bait from Metro when asked if it’ll be easier to run and cover straight-line wideouts like the Buccaneers’ Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, instead of the shiftier Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree of the Cowboys. While not wanting to say anything inflammatory, Amukamara smiled and said he’s simply “looking forward to getting back on the field” and “it doesn’t matter what the receiver does, I’ll just be ready to go out and play.” But he did relent some when further pressed, admitting it is “different on my ankle to go against a guy [with good hip action and quick cuts like Austin].”
»Defensive tackle Marvin Austin (back), who did not play last week because of a back injury, practiced and is making progress. The second-year tackle said he’s anxious to get back out there: “I need to be out there performing and showing the organization that I appreciate them picking me. For myself, the most important thing is going out there and being healthy and trying to go out there and help my brothers out.”
»Center David Baas (hip) made a rare appearance on the injury report, but Coughlin said he’s not really concerned: “He has some nagging issues there, but he’ll practice.”
»Linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring) also practiced on a limited basis.
»Left tackle Will Beatty was not on the injury list, as his back injury is progressing. Coughlin was non-committal about Beatty’s status in the starting lineup when asked if a healthy Beatty supplants veteran Sean Locklear, who has played admirably in Beatty’s absence. “We’ll see,” was all Coughlin would say. “[Beatty] will continue to progress the way we’ve been bringing him along with the number of snaps that he gets and again, try to make up for all of the lost time.”
» Rookie running back David Wilson, who did not have a rushing attempt last week after fumbling onjust his second career carry, has been working diligently on ball security. Coughlin said while there’s no guarantee about Wilson’s playing time, he is pleased to see the rookie’s determination in rectifying his carelessness. Coughlin added Wilson still has a ways to go to earn back trust: “He’s anxious and wants to do right. … He’s a little bit out of the doghouse.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.