The Giants have all but wrapped up the significant parts of their game plan, with only loose ends to tie up before today’s flight to Indianapolis.
When they go back to full-bore practices on Wednesday they should have their full roster intact, a change from when they faced New England on Nov. 6.
“It’s always nice to have all of your weapons anytime you play a game,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “Last time, we were missing Hakeem [Nicks] and Ahmad [Bradshaw] and [center David] Baas. Obviously, we’ve had a few guys out, but I think our game plan will be pretty similar.”
Bradshaw was the Giants’ leading rusher this season (659 yards, nine rushing touchdowns, 11 total in just 12 games) and Nicks was just as valuable (76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns). Their values have increased during their three-game postseason run as Bradshaw leads the team with 200 rushing yards and Nicks tops all the major receiving categories with 18 catches for 335 yards (an 18.4 yards per catch average) and four touchdowns.
Bradshaw said his foot is as good as it’ll ever be and he has “no doubt” he’ll be ready come Sunday. He practiced Friday, which followed the usual routine of him sitting out practices earlier in the week, so he can be fresh by week’s end.
Bradshaw is looking forward to being a bigger part of the game plan, especially since he thinks the Patriots might do everything they can to shut down Manning’s aerial assault.
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“Of course we want our running game to be spectacular every game [because] it makes it an easier game when our running game is clicking,” Bradshaw said. “It’ll be nice to have a couple weapons that we didn’t have the first game. We expect [the Patriots to stack the box], so we are going to run the ball and set the physical nature early. We play New York Giant football and that’s what we plan to do every game because it give us confidence. … It’ll be nice to have a couple weapons that we didn’t have the first game. If we can go out and play our game, I think we’ll be fine.”
Nicks did not practice on Friday and is listed as questionable on the Giants’ injury report with a sore shoulder, but he left little doubt he will be on the field Sunday.
“I expect to be full-go by [Wednesday’s practice],” Nicks said. “I just want to give myself a couple extra days to try and get it back right and rehab it a little bit.”
Nicks, who called the injury an AC joint sprain, hurt his shoulder early in the Giants’ NFC Championship Game victory last week in San Francisco. He had it treated in the locker room at halftime and managed to finish the game with five catches for 55 yards.
He said as painful as it was, he had to finish the game because of its importance, which means participating in something as pivotal as the Super Bowl will be a no-brainer.
“It was painful,” Nicks said. “I landed right on the AC joint that I injured a few times this season. I got it taken care of and by halftime I was cool. … The shoulder is doing better, getting better day to day. It’s still a little sore, [but] once I start working it out throughout the day it loosens up a little bit.”
Victor Cruz, the Giants’ leading receiver in the regular season and right behind Nicks with 17 postseason catches, might’ve gotten more publicity this season — and rightfully so — but he said he’s anxious to get his running mate back on the field for the Patriots rematch.
“I think it will make a big difference. His assets and his ability were definitely missed in that [first] game,” Cruz said. “Just having him out there is big. His presence alone is going to call away some attention by the defense. We’ll see how they play us. It’s going to be an interesting ordeal. … We’ll see how it goes.”
Big Blue notes
»Giants head coach Tom Coughlin was asked how he keeps practices fresh in the two-week period leading up to the Super Bowl: “Keep your eye on the prize [and have] steely-eyed focus. There are an awful lot of things to prepare for, believe me. We’re fortunate to have this extra practice time because now we can break things out accordingly, present it logically, whether it be by the number of times it occurs or however we choose to do that, but we’ll use the time very well. There will be very little that’s repeated, believe me.”
»In addition to the 15 players on the roster who faced the Patriots in the Super Bowl four years ago (running back D.J. Ware wasn’t active and linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was injured), the Giants have four players who have played in Super Bowls with other teams — and all of them lost. The group includes safety Deon Grant (2003 Carolina Panthers), defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (2005 Seattle Seahawks), offensive lineman Tony Ugoh (2009 Indianapolis Colts) and safety Antrel Rolle (2008 Arizona Cardinals).
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 leading up to the Super Bowl and from Indianapolis all this week.