The Giants saw a handful of key players return to the practice field Tuesday, one day after a scheduled day off, but of all the returning players, one appreciated it more than the others.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas, who has suffered three torn ACLs during his football career — including in back-to-back seasons — was taken off the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and participated in his first practice in almost a calendar year.
Thomas actually wasn't on the PUP list for his infamous knee, but rather for a strained hamstring during his conditioning test. But now that he’s been cleared to finally work out with the team, the sixth-year veteran is ready to contribute.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said Thomas is coming back as a cornerback, but the player said he’s just happy to come back “as a football player.”
Admittedly “a little rusty,” Thomas was relieved to make it through the session unscathed.
“Honestly, after the nervousness went away I was OK,” Thomas said. “When I did press release [coverage], I wasn’t nervous. It was good because I stood there, [and] got my hands on [wideouts]. That’s the biggest thing — doing everything by yourself and now you’re actually going against somebody. It was good.”
Thomas noted he still “has a long ways to go” but said the experience of donning the pads again was therapeutic.
“I’m excited. I’ve waited for this moment a long time, and I think it was natural to be nervous because I haven’t played in so long,” Thomas said, reflecting on his journey. “After tearing your ACL it’s kind of a drag. But my faith is in God and in my preparation. That’s how it’s been since Day 1. ... I’m just excited to have this opportunity to prove a lot of doubters wrong."
Hakeem Nicks doesn’t have nearly as many doubters as Thomas, but he was also happy to get back on the field after dealing with a groin malady last week. Nicks, who has had controversy follow him for most of the offseason, returned to the field on a limited basis.
The Pro Bowl wideout said he wanted to put in more work Wednesday, but that will be left up to the training staff, who will likely treat him with great precaution for the time being.
“I would have liked to have done more, but I’m going to stick to what [the trainers] want me to do right now,” Nicks said. “I felt good. I have got to keep going up from here. The reps they’ve got me doing right now is really not too much, so I’ve just got to keep on working as more and more gets thrown on me. I just have to take it in stride.”
Right guard Chris Snee also saw his first action of the preseason in a limited role, after being taken off the PUP list due to offseason hip surgery.
Snee said easing back into things was the plan and added there’s plenty of time to work out the kinks. He also doesn’t think his absence from the lineup to this date will adversely affect Big Blue’s offensive line cohesion.
"We’ll be fine. This is the time to get the rust off,” Snee said. “The last time I was in a meaningful [football] stance was in December."
Big Blue notes ...
»The Giants didn’t go totally unscathed at practice, as offensive lineman James Brewer left the session early after being dinged in the head. Should it be a concussion, he’ll have to pass a battery of baseline concussion tests before he’s cleared to practice again.
»Rookie safety Cooper Taylor strained his hamstring during practice.
»Running back Ryan Torain also got hurt, although Coughlin wasn't totally sure what happened. Coughlin, though, was seen talking to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell soon after Torain's injury, as he was likely upset with the running backs getting knocked around.
Coughlin didn’t reveal his conversation with Fewell but added that he didn’t want to see players “on the ground.”
“We don’t want them on the ground,” Coughlin said. “There was too much of that today.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for live updates from training camp.