These are voluntary practices, these OTA workouts the New York Giants are having this week, and what that technically means is that no one has to be there if they don't want to be there. But you know how that goes. NFL coaches expect their players to volunteer for the voluntary work and feel no compunction about expressing their displeasure when they don't. So this, according to Ohm, is what Giants coach Tom Coughlin had to say about wide receiver Hakeem Nicks' apparently unexpected absence from Wednesday's workout:
"Yeah, sure I did," Coughlin said of whether he expected Nicks to attend. "I expect everybody here. Trying to get our team better here."
"He would have some kind of [physical] limitations I am sure right away," Coughlin added. "But that is not the reason [for his absence]."
Eli Manning sounded surprised by Nicks' absence as well.
"I had no reason to think he wasn't going to be here," Manning said.
Nicks is no troublemaker, and not the kind of guy to skip a practice. So while he obviously isn't required to offer one, I'd expect that we'll hear an explanation sometime soon about why he wasn't there. Nicks' contract expires at the end of the 2013 season, and he has talked with the team about an extension, but that situation hasn't to this point come with the discontent fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz has over his current contract discussion. Cruz, as expected, was not in attendance Wednesday and likely won't be at any of the voluntary workouts unless or until he and the Giants reach agreement on a long-term contract. Manning wishes those guys were there:
"You want to make sure your guys are healthy at the start of the year and that's always the No. 1 thing," Manning said. "But you've got to get some work also. We need to improve. We've gotta rep things. We've got to make sure we're doing everything we can to make sure we're playing at our best. That involves being healthy and also involves practice and getting reps."
"You've still gotta work on your timing," he later added. "You've still gotta work on the basics. Everybody needs it. I need the basics. I mean, how many times have I thrown a hitch in my life or a curl route? I've still gotta do it. But it is good to have other guys in there running routes and getting your timing down with other guys. That's how you look at it, but you'd still like to have all your guys out there. We all need to work."
So while the absences of Cruz and Nicks offered opportunities for guys like Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan to get some valuable time working with Manning, it's clear the Giants would like to see their two star wideouts on the practice field as soon as possible. To this point, there's been no reason to worry about whether there's any kind of issue that would keep Nicks from being there. We shall see whether one has begun to surface.