New York Giants: SHaun O'Hara
O'Hara joked that, "Obama doesn't have the body to play football -- he has a basketball body, so I don't blame him," but he turned serious when he defended the game he loves against the idea of injury risk as a deterrent.
"I understand his concern, but this game is about so much more than just injuries," O'Hara said. "Kids, the values that they're learning by playing the game of football, the team sport, the idea of setting goals, working together with others to attain that goal and then finally achieving that goal. Those are principles in life that we all need to learn, and I think it's great. People say football will make a man out of you? No, football will teach you how to be a man."
O'Hara's first child, a son, is due in the coming months, and he made it clear he doesn't share the president's reservations.
"If my son wanted to play football, I would absolutely let him. I would drive him," O'Hara said. "But I would teach him, because it's just like anything. You wouldn't give your son a circular saw and let him go and start whittling wood. You would teach him how to use that. So my issue is, when I hear parents say, 'I don't want him to play football,' well, it's because you don't want to take the time to teach him how to do it right. Or you don't know how to teach him right.
"So that to me is a big sticking point. When I see kids that want to play football, I just want them to learn it the right way. We need to make sure our coaches are teaching our kids the right way to do things."
"I've been dreading this day my entire career," the long-time Giants lineman said. "Admitting to myself, as well as publicly, that my body can no longer keep up with the demands of being a professional athlete. I wasn’t the most gifted athlete, but I learned early on in my life that perseverance is more valuable than talent. I can honestly say that I squeezed every ounce of ability out of my body and I have no regrets."
You'd have to look long and far to find anyone who would argue that point.
O'Hara grew up in New Jersey, learning the game from his father and then at Hillsborough High School. He was a walk-on at Rutgers and went on to establish himself as a top lineman for the Scarlet Knights.
Undrafted, O'Hara hooked up with the Cleveland Browns and then signed with the Giants as a free agent prior to the 2004 season. In all, he played 11 years in the NFL, won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2007 and made three Pro Bowls.
"Imagine this: I experienced all of that and managed never to be arrested," he said with a laugh.
O'Hara lauded his coaches, particularly offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, a cancer survivor, and Tom Coughlin, during his retirement speech on Monday.
"My clocks will forever be five minutes fast and I know the importance of winning the turnover battle at home," he said.
He also commended Giants trainer Ronnie Barnes, “for sending me to the Hospital for Special Surgery when I developed an infection in my leg in 2004 because that is where I met a beautiful nurse that would later become my wife.”
And he talked about some of the fun he had behind closed doors with this teammates.
"I miss Eli (Manning)’s big hands and ridiculously large boogers, finding new ways to make fun of Richie (Seubert) and start a fight," O'Hara said. "I miss the back of the bus crew, the late-night plane trips after a big win and the feeling of accomplishing a goal as a team."
O'Hara hadn't played in the NFL since 2010 because the Giants cut him last summer while he was rehabbing his ankle and foot. The 35-year-old continued to work out and reportedly received interest from a number of NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins who, O'Hara says, were "kicking my tires."
Ultimately, he decided to call it a career. He will now serve as an analyst for the NFL Network.
But before he made his final decision, O'Hara consulted some former teammates, including Michael Strahan.
"Strahan still thinks he can play,” O’Hara said. “If he was given the chance he’d probably buckle it up and go out there and play Wednesday night. And you know what? So would I.”
PETRUS HAPPY FOR 'SECOND CHANCE': Offensive lineman Mitch Petrus was waived by the Giants on Saturday and re-signed on Sunday. He's grateful for the second chance.
"My agent called me and said they asked me to come back," Petrus said. "It’s a great feeling, it’s an opportunity, a second chance, they still believe in me. They found enough in me to bring me back; now, I'm going to make sure I bring my end of the bargain."
T Shawn Andrews (back)
CB Will Blackmon (chest)
WR Hakeem Nicks (leg)
C Shaun O'Hara (foot)
WR Steve Smith (pectoral)
LT David Diehl (hip/hamstring)
DE Osi Umenyiora (knee)
S Brian Jackson (hand)
CB Aaron Ross (back)
Andrews is all but certain to be inactive Sunday and miss his second straight game.
Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (leg) was on the side throwing a football around. He will miss this weekend's game against Washington but will try to play against Minnesota on Dec. 12
Left tackle David Diehl (hip/hamstring) had on pads. Diehl has missed the last three games and it is unknown whether he will play Sunday.
Center Shaun O'Hara (foot) was riding a stationary bike before pushing a cart on the side while the team practiced, an indication that he will most likely miss his fifth straight game.
Wide receiver Steve Smith (pectoral) had on pads and didn't take any reps while the offense went through some plays. He most likely will miss Sunday's game and try to make his return against Minnesota.
Cornerback/punt returner Will Blackmon (chest) was riding a stationary bike.
DID NOT PRACTICE
T Shawn Andrews (back)
CB Will Blackmon (chest)
WR Hakeem Nicks (Leg)
C Shaun O'Hara (foot)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
T David Diehl (hip/hamstring)
WR Steve Smith (pectoral)
DE Osi Umenyiora (knee)
S Brian Jackson (hand)
CB Aaron Ross (back)
The status of the three for Sunday's game against Washington is unknown at this point.
Cornerback Aaron Ross (back) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee), who were both limited in practice Wednesday, were working with their positions. Wide receiver Steve Smith (pectoral) was catching passes with quarterback Eli Manning, but is still expected to miss Sunday's game.
Cornerback Will Blackmon (chest) was riding the bike during the open portion, while wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (leg) was not practicing.
It would be tough to question Shawn Andrews' heart.
The Giants offensive lineman, who played left tackle last week against the Cowboys, wants to play this Sunday when the Giants face his old team, the Eagles. Despite a back injury, possibly related to his history of problems and two surgeries, the 325-pound Andrews spoke poignantly today about how much he wants to be there for his new team.
"It’s really tough because I think about how far I’ve come," Andrews said. "Early on in my rehabbing process, especially after my second surgery, I just recall the pain that I was in, that I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I could have easily hung it up, went fishing in Arkansas, and just kicked my feet back. I know I have a lot of great football left in me, and I have a second chance with a phenomenal organization. I feel like I owe it to these guys. If I have to be carried off the field, for these guys, I respect them so much that I’m doing everything in my power."
We have a full story on Andrews here.
LT David Diehl was in the locker room, smelling like some crazy mint Tiger Balm stuff from his acupuncture treatment earlier that had Chris Snee coughing. Diehl said his hamstring was so improved that he might be ready to start practicing as soon as next week.
Shaun O'Hara was in as well, said there is no timetable and the 2 to 8 weeks that he mentioned last week was a general estimate for the injury, but that his own specific injury doesn't have a timetable yet. O'Hara said the waiting was tough.
Backup C Adam Koets had his ACL surgery today.
OL Will Beatty said he was ready to go, which is good because he could start at left tackle if Andrews can't go or is limited.
"I expect to knock all the rust off before Sunday," Beatty said. "It’s going against a team like the Eagles, and just our competition and the way we play each other, you can’t have rust and expect to do well. I’m going against Cole and he’s a great football player. If I come in there without my full game, he won’t say, ‘Oh you’re coming off an injury so I’ll take it lightly.’ He’s going to give me everything he has, and in return I’m going to do the same."
Mitch Petrus (who believe it or not is an avid guitarist) will rotate in.
Diehl, O'Hara WR Steve Smith (pectoral muscle) and FB Madison Hedgecock (hammy, and he practiced some today) are out for Sunday's game.
CB Corey Webster (toe) sprinted out of the locker room to avoid a pursuing reporter and yelled back that he was "good." As long as the Eagle wide receivers aren't a lot faster than your average sports writer, the Giants have to be feeling good about their defensive backs.
TE Kevin Boss (back) is probable. I asked DE Dave Tollefson about his ankle and he said he was fine.
Lastly, an addition. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that new again wide receiver Derek Hagan was good and could see time.
"He’s been good," Coughlin said. "He’s really been sharp. He anticipated this for a long time, he’s looked at all of our games, he came in pretty much knowing the signals and knowing all of that stuff and just being able to recall. He’s had a few incidents out here where he wants to believe he’s totally sharp, but there’s been some issues, but he’s worked his way through that and he’s come in here with veteran presence and it’s been demonstrated and he’ll be ready to go."
Giants wide receiver Steve Smith is out of Sunday's game against the Cowboys. An MRI revealed that he has a partial tear of his pectoral muscle, and will be "week to week" said Giants coach Tom Coughlin.
Coughlin said Smith did not need surgery, but will need several weeks for the injury, sustained in Thursday's practice, to heal.
"They say a limited amount of time, but not necessarily right away or this week or next week," Coughlin said. "I won’t know until he starts rehabbing. He hasn’t had much swelling, some discomfort, so a lot of it in the beginning will probably be preventative to make sure that there’s no further injury and then to strengthen and go forward."
Oddly, Smith's nameplate wasn't over his locker today. His next-door neighbor K Lawrence Tynes said Smith will be missed on the field this week.
"A lot of our offense go through him and the things he done against Dallas speaks for itself," Tynes said.
With Smith out, Coughlin said that WR Ramses Barden and WR Duke Calhoun will get more playing time. WR Mario Manningham will be working more as well. Barden said he has been taking significantly more reps in practice already, and caught a 22-yard catch the last time the Giants played the Cowboys. The 6-foot-6, 227-pound Barden will be expected to play more of a slot receiver position in Smith's absence.
"If there's ever an issue, somebody gets tired, somebody gets a hangnail, I'm the next guy to go in so I need to be prepared to go in at every position," Barden said. "And this week it just happens to be the slot so I am as prepared for that as I am for any other."
C Shaun O'Hara doesn't have a time frame for his return from a foot injury, but he won't play this week, and neither will LT David Diehl, who sustained a hip/hamstring injury in last week's win over the Seahawks.
"It does feel better," said O'Hara, who added that he was trying to have patience with it.
Coughlin will likely use Shawn Andrews at LT, but wasn't prepared to name Kevin Boothe or rookie Mitch Petrus as the starter, saying it would likely be a game-time decision. Interestingly, T WIll Beatty has been practicing this week, the first practices since breaking his foot earlier in the season, and is listed as questionable for the Cowboys game.
Hakeem Nicks did not want to address the issues that he gave gifts to former teammates at UNC. He did say that he isn't angry that the story got out.
"I'm not angry at all," Nicks said. "That's college and I'm in the NFL now and I'm focusing on football."
Final injury report: Diehl, TE Madison Hedgecock (hamstring), O'Hara, WR/KR Darius Reynaud (hamstring) and Smith are out; Beatty is questionable; RB Brandon Jacobs (ill on Wed.), DE Osi Umenyiora and LB Gerris Wilkinson (hand) are probable.
Here are the basics out of Giants practice the Friday before a home game against the Cowboys.
Steve Smith, the starting wide receiver who strained his pectoral muscle during Thursdays practice, was not on the field with his teammates today. We should find out the results of tests Smith underwent after the injuries, the results of which weren't available yesterday.
If Smith is out -- and it doesn't look good if he isn't at practice -- it's a big loss for the Giants. Yesterday offensive coordinator Kevin Gillbride called Smith the Giants' most polished receiver. Read Ohm Youngmisuk's story on Smith here.
Also missing were offensive linemen Shaun O'Hara (foot) and David Diehl (hip/hamstring).
FB Madison Hedgecock was at practice, but he didn't appear to be participating fully in drills.
Former Cowboy Troy Aikman, in his capacity as Fox announcer, was on the sidelines today taking it all in.
Center Shaun O'Hara (Foot) DID NO PRACTICE
Tackle Will Beatty (Foot) DID NOT PRACTICE
Fullback Madison Hedgecock (Hamstring) DID NOT PRACTICE
Running back/kick returner Darius Reynaud (Hamstring) ***LIMITED IN PRACTICE
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (Knee) ***FULL PARTICIPATION
Defensive end Dave Tollefson (Illness)***FULL PARTICIPATION
Tackle Kareem McKenzie (Illness)***FULL PARTICIPATION
Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson (Hand)***FULL PARTICIPATION
Center Shaun O'Hara was nowhere to be seen during practice. O' Hara is battling a mild lisfranc sprain in his right foot.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee) had on pads and helment and went through reps with the first-team defense.
Tackle Will Beatty (foot) stretched with the team before doing some time on the bike. He then moved outside to do what appeared to be some individual drills without helmets or pad.
Fullback Madison Hedgecock (hamstring) was riding the bike as the team stretched and then was watching practice on the field with no pads or helmet on.
Defensive end Dave Tollefson (illness) was back in action, going through special teams reps.
Giants C Shaun O’Hara practiced today. That’s notable in that he played on Sunday and has been missing practice on and off ever since his ankle tendonitis began during training camp. He said there has been improvement in how he feels.
“It’s feeling good and certainly having an extra day helps,” O’Hara said. “We just decided to do some work today see how it feels I haven’t really had any issues with it even postgame so it’s feeling a lot better.”
Does he feel like he has turned the corner?
“I’m still kind of holding my breath,” O’Hara said. “I don’t want to jinx myself but it’s feeling pretty good and it seems to be handling the workload.”
And the Giants may have another injured player back. LB Keith Bulluck said that his turf toe was better, and he practiced today. He also was pretty emphatic when asked if he would play in Dallas this weekend.
“I will be ready to play,” Bulluck said.
DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka has a diagnosis of a herniated disk. It's a more severe condition than the bulging disk the Giants first said was the source of his sore neck. We have more on that here and will update later.
Giants players and coaches addressed the NFL’s decision to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits after fining three players $175,000 for hits this weekend. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team would talk about it this afternoon, and watch a video the NFL had put together.
“Well, I think that the players are very serious about listening,” Coughlin said. “Whether they agree or disagree, they will listen to what the commissioner has to say.”
The comments out of the locker room broke down along offensive and defensive lines.
“Obviously, as an offensive player and a quarterback, anything that protects us, you are always a fan for,” QB Eli Manning said. “We have to hear what he says, and honestly there will probably be mixed feelings. The commissioner and the league is worried about protecting the players and keeping guys healthy, and that’s very important.”
The exception to that was RB Brandon Jacobs, who speculated that it might give the offense an advantage.
“I think all of this is insane, but it is for the safety of the players it’s going to start of having big plays because guys don’t want to get the $50,000 fine or suspension,” Jacobs said. “...Guys are going to be missing tackles when they think they’ve got it right in front of them and they can’t do anything about it.”
He added: “I’m an offensive player and I think it’s insane,” Jacobs said. “The guy’s defenseless but that’s been football for how many years now.”
Johnette Howard will have a column on the defensive side of the issue later.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted a link to the video the NFL sent to all teams about the enforcement of rules on legal and illegal NFL hits. The first example of an illegal hit is one made on Giants TE Kevin Boss.
Injury report: T Will Beatty (foot) was out, FB Madison Hedgecock (hamstring) was limited, Kiwanuka did not practice, P Lawrence Tynes (ankle) was limited and DE Osi Umenyiora did not practice.
The soreness in Shaun O'Hara's left achilles and ankle was back today, and the Giants took him out before the end of practice at the team's East Rutherford facility.
"He had a reoccurrence of the injury and they felt it was better to just back him off," head coach Tom Coughlin said.
The veteran center experienced pain and tendonitis during training camp, and O'Hara had a hard cast placed over the the leg for about a week in late August to try to give it some rest before the start of the regular season. The hope was that the cast would alleviate the discomfort, but that hasn't happened.
"I was sore after the game," said O'Hara before receiving treatment for the injury after practice. "Some days it has a mind of its own and today it wasn't real happy."
The center said he wasn't concerned that he wouldn't be able to play this week when the Giants face the Colts in Indianapolis -- or at any other point this season. He's said that if it's just pain and swelling then he's prepared to handle it.
"The tough thing is that rest is the only thing that seems to do anything for it and I don't plan on getting any rest until February," O'Hara said.
“It’s not going to be something that is miraculously going to be gone,” O’Hara said after Monday’s practice.
He also didn’t rule out the possibility that he’d periodically miss practice during the season to avoid aggravating the injury and stay healthy for Sundays.
“If that’s what we have to do, I think I know the offense pretty well and if I have to rest a little bit, I think I am comfortable doing that. In my mind, I want to take every rep and I don’t want to miss out on anything during the week.”
O’Hara said he planned to practice again on Wednesday.
“The plan is to progress, move forward and make sure we don’t have any set-backs,” he said.
REYNAUD READY TO RETURN: Darius Reynaud – the Giants’ newest punt returner – said that he’s still in shock after getting trading from Minnesota.
Reynaud was dealt along with backup QB Sage Rosenfels to the Giants on Friday night.
“It happened so fast that I’m still in shock,” he said on Monday afternoon. “I didn’t know anything (about the trade). I got the phone call, and they said they’d fly me up the next day and here I am.”
Tom Coughlin said that Reynaud would return punts for the Giants. He may also serve as the team’s returner. The Giants have been trying to fill that void since Domenik Hixon was lost for the season following knee surgery.
Reynaud will take snaps at receiver for the Giants. He averaged 10.3 yards on 30 punt returns last season – fourth-best in the NFC. He returned four kicks for an average of 22.5 yards.
“I can do kick returns, but if you miss the first guy in punt returns then it’s off to the races,” Reynaud said. “I’m more comfortable doing that than kick returns.”
Reynaud somehow had a good feeling that he would be coming to New York last week. He didn’t know which team he’d be going to, but he told his wife that they’d be in New York the day before he was traded.
“My wife says to this day ‘I don’t know why you were thinking about that and how this came about.’ I had a good feeling.”
A SAGE MAN: Rosenfels is happy to be in New York, but the 10-year veteran knows he won’t be able to do sightseeing in the big city anytime soon. He’s going to be occupied with studying the Giants’ playbook.
“I’m going to do my best to know everything that’s in the game plan. What I’m going to try to do is get down,” Rosenfels said. “ … Every play they have in the game plan. To get to that point, I really have to put in a lot of time. It’s great to be in New York City, but I’m not going to seeing New York City for a few more weeks.”
VICTOR-Y: Rookie wideout Victor Cruz can breathe easy now that he has a full-time job with the Giants. The Paterson, N.J. native was home with family on Saturday when he found out that he made the 53-man roster.
“It’s kind of calming to know that you have a job and you’re not worried about competing and things like that,” Cruz said. “You still compete but you’re more relaxed and just ready to go out there and there’s less tension within yourself. You just kind of go out there and relax and play.”
BLACKBURN BETTER: Linebacker Chase Blackburn, who sprained his right knee against the Jets on Aug. 16, said he felt general soreness in his injured right MCL after practicing on Monday morning. But he said the pain didn’t linger and he expected to play on Sunday against Carolina.