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Friday, December 30, 2011
Giants' Nicks back at practice Friday

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

The New York Giants appear to be getting pretty healthy in time for Sunday night's NFC East title game against the Dallas Cowboys. After missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was on the practice field Friday and looks as though he'll make good on his pledge to play Sunday. Fellow wide receiver Mario Manningham, who missed last week's game with a knee injury, practiced for the third day in a row, and so did defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who has missed the last four games with a sprained ankle.

That means the Giants are likely to go into their final game at full strength at two of their strongest positions -- wide receiver and defensive line. Having a full complement of pass rushers will allow the coaching staff to cut back on the number of plays Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck play, potentially increasing the effectiveness of each by reducing fatigue. And having Manningham and Nicks on the field with Victor Cruz will create even more problems for a Dallas secondary that has been brutal over the past month.

It does not appear the Giants will have tight end Jake Ballard, who has been held out of practice all week with his knee injury. That affects Eli Manning and the passing game, but having Manningham back at wide receiver should help offset what they lose at tight end.