- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks returned to the New York Giants for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, but wouldn't say why he chose not to participate in the team's voluntary OTAs the past several weeks.
"I'm not here to talk about that," Nicks said when asked why he skipped the previous workouts, which had surprised coach Tom Coughlin. "I'm here to talk about me being here now."
"I never want to be detrimental in any kind of way to this organization," he later added. "The guys tell me they don't feel like it was too much of a distraction. I took care of what I needed to take care of and I'm here now; that's all that matters."
Nicks acknowledged that he could have handled the situation better as far as communicating with Coughlin to let the coach know he wasn't participating in OTAs. The two met on Tuesday morning and cleared the air.
Coughlin said he wanted to keep his talk with Nicks between the two men. Nicks caught some passes and ran some routes in practice as the Giants tried to gauge where their receiver is at physically.
"You don't know where he's at, so we are trying to figure that out," Coughlin said. "But he got some work today and that was good. He's definitely not in tune with where we are (though). We have had nine OTAs and we have thrown a lot at him. He has just had one meeting. If he is around, he will pick it up quick. He will get it fast."
Coughlin said he is going to remain optimistic about wide receiver Victor Cruz's situation but the coach lamented the time that has been lost this offseason so far as Cruz continues to wait for a new deal.
"I've been optimistic since Day One and it hasn't gotten me anywhere, has it?" Coughlin said. "So I'll just continue to be that way. The clock's running. Calendar dates are going by fellas. This is something that at least we could have benefited by if nothing else, this minicamp. But you have to realize that there is no contract at this time. Without a contract, he is not going to be here."
Nicks said he did speak with general manager Jerry Reese earlier to let him know his point of view over the missed OTA workouts.
"I could have done a better job of reaching out [to Coughlin]," said Nicks, who chose to train in North Carolina during OTAs. "We finally got to talk [this morning] and we got things straight on that end. Coach Coughlin, that is my guy. So I think that relationship can't go sour. I felt where he was coming from, I should've done a better job of reaching out to him."
If Nicks had not shown up, the team could've fined him or any other player under contract up to $66,150 for not attending all three days of minicamp. Cruz, who is not under contract, cannot be fined for not showing up. Cruz has yet to sign his one-year restricted free-agent tender as he continues to try to work out a long-term extension with the team.
The Giants can lower Cruz's RFA tender from $2.879 million to $660,000 beginning on Friday if they choose to. But a source told ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter that there is no sign yet that the Giants will opt to take that route.
The Giants want to extend the contracts of both receivers. Nicks is entering the final season of his contract but he won't discuss whether his absence from OTAs was contract-related.
"Like I told you all back in the spring, I don't talk about my contract in the media," Nicks said.
Cruz has not participated in any of the team's offseason functions due to his contract negotiations. And with Nicks absent from the voluntary OTAs as well, Manning has had to throw to Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy instead.
Manning said last week that he was hoping those Duke workouts "would be a little starter course to the spring. Not a substitute for what we're doing on the field right now."
Nicks said he wasn't sure how much he will do in minicamp this week. He was slated to talk to Coughlin and the trainers to determine his workload.
Nicks had a minor scope on his knee this offseason after laboring through knee and foot injuries last season. He broke his foot during a voluntary OTA over a year ago.
It is a major priority for the Giants to make sure Nicks is at full strength going into the season.
"My whole expectation [this offseason] was to be a full go by training camp, that is still the mindset," Nicks said. "I am sure I will be a full go."
"The knee is feeling good," Nicks later added. "I've been doing everything up to this day. We haven't talked about what I am going to do yet so far in this minicamp."
Now, all the Giants need is for their other star receiver to return.
"That's his situation," said Nicks, who talks regularly with Cruz. "He's doing good. His mind is in the right spot. He still loves this team and he still wants to be here."
11hEric D. Williams