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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Beast Special Report: The Coughlin interview

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

 
  Scott Boehm/Getty Images
  Tom Coughlin says first-round pick Hakeem Nicks needs to find a way to get back to practice.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin is irritated that too many players are missing practices with bumps and strains. He thought he might see Steve Smith or Hakeem Nicks return to practice Wednesday, but it didn't work out that way.

As he wrapped up his daily news conference, Coughlin made a beeline for the locker room. I was told by Giants public relations chief Pat Hanlon to "put on my walking shoes" in order to stay up with the notoriously impatient Coughlin. What follows is the rapid-fire interview that took place during our post-practice power walk.

Obviously you're frustrated with some of the injuries. Is there anything you can do to guard against those things during training camp?

Tom Coughlin: The thing we tell them is not to be out of control. If one of the players is losing his balance, they have to recognize that and not take him down. It's not easy, though. There's a lot of physical work to do.

You guys added some firepower along the defensive line. How much of a difference do you think that will make this season?

TC: Well, [Chris] Canty's hurt right now. And the same thing goes for Fred Robbins. But you have a guy like Osi [Umenyiora] coming back and I think he realized how much he loved the game. Having him back just gives us more flexibility.

Ramses Barden appears to be having a strong camp. What have you seen from him and Hakeem Nicks?

TC: [Barden's] caught the ball and that's the one thing you can say about Nicks and Barden. They know how to catch the ball. Now they're not always in the right positions ...

How far does a guy like Nicks fall behind when he misses two or three days?

TC: You've got to be out there. You've got to be out there. No matter what they say, we have to see it on the field. I think sometimes [rookies] are overwhelmed by the learning. But they have to have that stay-power. We need to see them go through the entire preseason. These guys need the reps and it's so critical for them to have time with Eli [Manning]. You have to be able to move to the areas of reliability. [Manning] has to trust that [the receiver's] going to execute the play. Right now, some of those guys are fighting through heavy legs.

Is this the strongest you've seen the NFC East in a long time?

TC: No, it's always that way. With the addition of these players. Everyone in this division does a great job of trying to improve in the offseason. There's just so much at stake in all our division games, so much tradition. As Joe Gibbs used to say heading into division games, "I just hope we have enough players left for next week's game." That's sort of how it feels with these games.