EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The packed blue canvas travel bags
were in front of each locker and there seemed to be a sense of
relief among the New York Giants after holding their final practice
in New Jersey for the Super Bowl.
"It's kind of like the last day of school," punter Jeff Feagles said Saturday, looking around the locker room where smiling
players joked with one another and conducted another round of
"We're packing our bags and guys are a little giddy," added
the 20-year veteran, who will be playing in his first Super Bowl a
week from Sunday when the Giants face the New England Patriots in
For the first time since returning to work Thursday, there
didn't seem to be any tension as players headed home for 36 hours
of down time with their families and friends.
They will be back at Giants Stadium on Monday for meetings and a
flight to Arizona to begin the final week of preparation.
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield felt a little weird leaving the
bubble at Giants Stadium for the last time this season. But it was
also a good feeling, knowing what lies ahead.
"Everything is new to me, and probably to almost every guy on
this team," Cofield said. "I think that's a good thing. There is
a lot of excitement and a lot of anticipation. I think people are
eager to go out there and play."
The one constant was Tom Coughlin, Cofield said. The coach has
been intense, worried that his team is looking too far ahead.
Coughlin seemed to pick up his intensity in practice Saturday,
barking at players to keep them focused and reminding them to take
care of things like tickets requests and family needs now.
"I think he is fearful," Cofield said. "That's how most
coaches are. I don't know what the word I want to use is ....
Paranoid! Most coaches are paranoid. They always feel like they
have to be prepared for everything, and coach Coughlin is like
that, more so than most coaches. He sees the pot of gold at the end
of the rainbow and he knows if we do the right things we have a
chance of getting there."
Despite having starting fullback Madison Hedgecock and backup
defensive tackle Manny Wright miss their second straight practice
because of some type of 24-hour bug, the Giants (13-6) seemingly
will be healthy for their rematch with the Patriots (18-0).
Starting left guard Rich Seubert is making progress recovering
from his sprained right knee, and it's expected that he will
practice in Arizona for the game. And backup cornerback Kevin Dockery (hip) worked a little for the first time in weeks, and he
seemingly will ready for the championship game.
Halfback Brandon Jacobs said Coughlin has made sure the players
are focused on the big prize.
All they have to do is beat the Patriots, which is something no
one has done this season. The Giants came close in the
regular-season finale, losing 38-35 after opening a 28-16 lead in
the third quarter.
"He knows we have a great opportunity to win this football
game, and he wants to do everything in his power to prepare us the
right way and make sure we don't slip up, that we leave everything
out on the field," Jacobs said.
Coughlin has not been alone in spreading the message. The Giants
have a player leadership council, and they have constantly reminded
each other that no one remembers who lost the Super Bowl.
"There are going to be a lot of distractions and we are aware
of that," Feagles said. "We have to keep them to a minimum and
that's where the leaders on this team come in. We're taking the
young guys by the hand and letting them know we may never get back
to this. It's great we got here. But we want to win."