The Giants got some much needed days off following their Thursday night game, and judging by head coach Tom Coughlin’s mood, the time away from football did everyone some good.
Monday’s practice session was as lively and competitive as it’s been all season, according to the coach. But more promising than the good workout was everyone’s disposition, as Coughlin noted that enthusiasm rang throughout the locker room.
Coughlin, who can be as surly and guarded as any coach in the league, began his media session with some lighthearted preordained answers like, “Yes,” “No,” “I don’t know any more than you do” and “We’ll see,” before he could be asked about the team’s mindset, injuries or 0-6 record.
The usually staid coach even had one-liners about the way he spent his weekend, saying he “went for a long walk on Saturday and thought the leaves were nice. … Someone told me they change this time of year.”
The change in foliage might’ve been nice, but for Coughlin, the fact there wasn’t any change in his players’ attitudes was even more impressive.
“They came back and they jumped right into the meeting room. They jumped into the weight room,” Coughlin said. “This has been a pretty good practice today, so I think it was a nice break for them, which is the advantage of a Thursday night game.”
The result of Thursday’s loss to the Bears not only pinned the Giants deeper into the dregs of the league standings, but it also shortened their running back rotation. Brandon Jacobs, who was already starting in place of the injured David Wilson (neck), sat out Monday’s practice with a bum hamstring. Coughlin acknowledged that Jacobs, who was wearing a large leg wrap, sat out merely for “cautionary” reasons and is “hopeful” to get his veteran running back for Thursday’s session. The Giants will be off both Tuesday and Wednesday, so the extra rest should benefit Jacobs.
While sitting at his locker fielding questions, because he was too banged up to stand, Jacobs shared Coughlin’s optimistic approach, noting no one on the team has given up hope.
“There’s nobody in this locker room that wants to be anywhere else but here,” Jacobs said when asked if he thought the swirling trade rumors had any merit.
Wideout Hakeem Nicks, who may be the biggest name on the roster whose name has been included in such rumors, said he’s onboard with this team until told otherwise.
“There are no quitters in here,” Nicks said. “To get a chance to renew your mind a little bit, and I think that’s what everybody tried to do. It’s good for everybody to get away for a little bit and come back with a mindset ready to work. … We know the situation that’s at hand. We’ve got to change the situation. The future lies in our hands. We got a 10-game stretch. We can make [do with it]. We’ve just got to focus on what we need to focus on, don’t listen to the outside talk and no offense to anyone, just focus on what we need to do.”
“Are we still playoff-bound, who knows? But that’s not the most important thing,” said safety Antrel Rolle. “The most important thing is that we stick together … and find a way out of this.”
Big Blue notes …
» Nicks said he’s living and playing for the moment right now and can’t be worried about the swirling trade rumors. The NFL trade deadline is Oct. 29, and with roughly two more weeks of such watercooler talk, Nicks said he’s only focused on being a Giant and helping them end their losing streak. He acknowledged he hasn’t “gotten a whiff” of trade talks from other teams, and added that if there were talks, he thinks the Giants organization would “respect” him enough to come to him if there was anything brewing.
“Business is business [but] I’m a Giant right now,” said Nicks. “I’m going to enjoy it. … I love playing for the Giants. I’m a Giant right now. I’m gonna stand strong with that. That’s the only thing I can focus on right now. I can’t really control no rumors.”
» Tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) practiced for the first time all season.
» Safety Cooper Taylor (shoulder) and cornerbacks Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and Corey Webster (groin) did not practice on Monday.
» Center David Baas (neck) did some stretching with the team, as well as individual work on the side.
» The Giants have five running backs on the roster, but all with varying degrees of availability. Wilson is currently in California getting a second opinion on his injured neck. Andre Brown is still at least two weeks away from returning. And both Da’Rel Scott (knee) and Jacobs are banged-up and did not practice. Meanwhile, rookie tailback Michael Cox and fullback John Connor were the only available healthy backs for practice today.
Coughlin said as well as Cox has performed in practices at times, he still may not be ready for prime time just yet.
“He obviously has a lot going, but there are some things that I think right now we feel good about,” said Coughlin. “There are other things not so [good], and we’re working on the not-so. … He’s young. It [the playbook] is sophisticated and complex the things that are thrown at him, particularly in the protection area, so you’ve got to be careful [in playing him in actual games].”
Cox’s thoughts about any availability for Monday night’s game against the Vikings was slightly contrary to Coughlin’s message.
“Yes, I’ve been told that [to be ready to play],” said Cox, who added he thinks he did a lot of good in today’s practice to help his cause. “It was a little bit strange being the only back out there. But I feel I put in some good work today.”
» Big Blue is struggling in many statistical categories. The Giants are ranked 30th or worse in 10 different categories, including last in interceptions per pass attempt, sacks per pass play and points allowed. Their highest league rankings are sixth in gross punting average, tied for seventh in fourth-down efficiency and eighth in passing yards per game.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.