EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rashad Jennings made it onto the New York Giants practice field on Friday for the first time this week, so he is on the final injury report of the week as questionable rather than out for Sunday's game in Tennessee against the Titans.
"I feel I showed that I want to play," the running back said. "I think that message is clear to everybody."
He wants to play, even though he knows that the ankle he sprained last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars still hasn't completely healed. He wants to play, even though the Giants are 3-9 and can no longer even pretend that they have a shot at the playoffs.
"This is the time of year when you need to put your best foot forward," Jennings said. "You can't let the scoreboard or the record dictate your motivation. I've got a lot to prove. I need to prove I can play hurt."
First, he needs to prove to coach Tom Coughlin and the Giants' medical staff that he can play at all.
Coughlin wouldn't commit on Friday, saying the next two days will determine whether Jennings plays against the Titans. Coughlin said he's not just concerned with whether Jennings is healthy enough to start the game, but also whether there's a confidence he can be healthy enough to finish it.
"He's got to be able to play in the game, to some semblance of where he's normally at," Coughlin said. "The big thing is, when you issue a suit to someone, you'd like to think they can play and finish the game. What really hurts, because you've only got 46 [active players], is when you dress a guy and then he's out of the game.
"Every guy, and not just Rashad, has to pass the test of whether we think -- and we're not always right -- that he can play the majority of the game."
With all of their injuries, the Giants have had plenty of experience making those calls this season. Friday, they declared linebacker Jacquian Williams and tackle James Brewer out of Sunday's game, both with concussions. This will be the fourth consecutive game Williams has missed, and Coughlin admitted that the Giants might need to make a decision next week on whether he can return this season.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who also had a concussion, was limited in practice on Friday and was listed as questionable.
Jennings was also officially listed as limited in practice Friday, but still felt able to do enough to say he believed he can play. Then again, Jennings always believes he can play.
"If I was the coach, I definitely wouldn't let me make the decision," he said.
If Jennings can't go, rookie Andre Williams would get the start, just as he did in the four games Jennings missed earlier in the season with a knee injury. Williams didn't do well in those four games, averaging just 2.7 yards a carry. The Giants lost all four games, starting them on the seven-game losing streak that continued after Jennings returned.
Jennings, who has tried to help Williams learn the NFL game, believes his protégé is better prepared to step in now.
"I can start to see the trust and patience," Jennings said. "How to use hesitation, how to run behind your blockers, where the hidden yardage is and how to get it. He's an explosive runner, a powerful runner, and it's always been for him just fine-tuning the little things."
This week would be a fine time to show it. The Titans give up 141.5 yards rushing a game, the most in the NFL (the Giants are 31st, at 140.6).
But that's not why Jennings so badly wants to play this week. He badly wants to play every week.
"Look, I'm the player," he said. "I want to play."
He's not there yet, but at least he got through Friday.
Jenkins probable: Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, who has missed the last three games (and four of the last five) with a calf injury, practiced all week and is listed as probable for Sunday. "
He's been limited, but he's taken all his reps," Coughlin said.
A new goal: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who twice during the losing streak has declared that the Giants could run the table, lowered his sights a little this week.
"Win the game," he said. "At least win one game. We had a great week of practice, like we always do. We have to execute our plays, and play four quarters. We haven't been a team that finishes the fourth quarter.
"Now it's time to finish out, play all four quarters and play as hard as we can."