Nicks, 25, sat out practice Thursday, the first full practice he has missed while dealing with a recent groin strain. He was hampered all of last season by ankle and foot injuries.
"I think he needs to practice. He and I talk about it all the time, and he knows it," Gilbride said Thursday. "In order for you to be ready for the season, you need to have done it; and done it over and over; and done it wrong and made the adjustment; and then have it become part of what you do, the correct way to do it.
"He's not there yet. He needs to continue to improve, and he knows that. He understands that in order for him to be ready to produce the way that he wants to produce and the way that we need him to produce, he needs to practice to get ready for that."
Victor Cruz told reporters he believes everyone eventually will see the healthy Nicks from two years ago -- when the North Carolina product hauled in 76 receptions for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns -- but that his teammate is understandably taking it slow.
Gilbride says he doesn't remember the last time Nicks was fully healthy for a practice.
The receivers coach, though, is glad to see Cruz back on the field.
"It's great. It's one of those things where he was a big component of what we've done offensively the last two years," Gilbride said of Cruz. "He needs to work. We all need to work. To get him out there and have him be able to go through the process, the reads, seeing the defense the way he needs to see it in order to make us a successful offense is important."
Cruz skipped the Giants' organized team activities during the offseason, but signed a long-term extension in early July and reported to training camp on time.
Gilbride was asked what Cruz needs to work on.
"The recognition of the coverages, and then just physically knocking off the rust in terms of his acceleration in and out of breaks, his body position when he's coming in and out of breaks," Gilbride said. "Those are things that need to be worked on with a defender against you for you to have a great feel for it, so those are the little things that comes with practicing and preparation."
Rueben Randle has had a strong training camp thus far. Gilbride is impressed with Randle's ability to take things from the film room and carry them out on the practice field.
"Very similar to what we talked about with you guys in the spring was his development and where it started, and it started in the meeting room," Gilbride said. "When he first got to this level, he had a lot of improvements to make as far as his approach as a professional."
"Slowly through the course of last season, he made some progress, and by the end of last year, the progress that he made in the meeting room carried onto the field, and it turned into big plays for us toward the home stretch of the season. He took off and picked up right where he left in the spring, he didn't take a step backward at all and continued to progress."