Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
This was another day for Chris Snee to watch his teammates from the sideline, another day off from practice to make sure his surgically repaired elbow and his surgically repaired hip are sufficiently healed so he can achieve the ultimate result: being in the starting lineup when the Giants open the regular season in Detroit on Sept. 8.
The 32-year-old Snee, who with quarterback Eli Manning are the only remaining starters from the Giants' 2007 Super Bowl season, remains optimistic that he will accomplish his goal. His outlook is positive even if there are days when the aches and pains associated with his latest physical ailments limit his ability to retake his position at right guard, where he has been a starter since his rookie year in 2004.
"At my age, there are good days and there are bad days, so a day off every couple of days in [Organized Team Activities] is working out well," Snee said after watching Thursday's practice session. "Right now, I just tell myself to take it day by day, and when the spring is over, I'll let the [medical staff and coaches] know how I feel."
But if there are lingering questions about his body, there are none about his mind. Or his motivation.
Even after agreeing to more than a $4-million pay cut to remain with the team in the final year of his contract, Snee's steely focus remains intact. He's scheduled to make $2 million in base salary and $500,000 in per-game bonuses.
When asked if he is concerned about remaining motivated after agreeing to such a big salary reduction, Snee stared at his questioner and replied simply:
"Because I push myself and, I don't want to compare it to anyone else, but you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who is more self-motivated, who wants to prove all the doubters wrong more than me. I've been that way from high school on, when I came from an area [Montrose, Pennsylvania] where no one thought I would get a college scholarship. Same thing all the way through [Boston College]. I have that fire. I have that drive. It's just my body needs to stay on the same page as my mind."
Snee is mindful of the roster changes the Giants made, in part because of his uncertain physical condition. The Giants signed free-agent guards Geoff Schwartz (Chiefs) and John Jerry (Dolphins) and brought back guard James Brewer. They also signed center J.D. Walton and drafted center Weston Richburg, further proof of a major overhaul after the departures of David Diehl, David Baas and Kevin Boothe.
Snee remains undeterred.
"From [the Giants'] standpoint, they brought in guys and had to prepare as if I wasn't going to be able to make it," Snee said. "I appreciated that mindset, and I understood it."
Asked if his gut feeling is that he'll be in the starting lineup for the opener, Snee replied: "If I'm healthy, yeah. You'll have to pull me out of there. I still feel that, when I'm practicing, I'm a very good guard. The rest of the young guys are talented, but if I'm healthy, they're not beating me out."
That confidence has been a hallmark of Snee's impressive career, one in which he has gone to four Pro Bowls and won two championships. It has been a superb run, one he hopes will continue but one that already has featured myriad accomplishments.
That he's one of the last men standing from the Giants' last two Super Bowl runs is further affirmation of his excellence over the years.
"I've had a lot of friends come and go, and it's tough," he said. "I had some of the older guys tell me at the beginning of my career that this day would be here soon and that I would be the old guy in the locker room."
Snee and Manning, the last two starters left from the championship years.
"It's a different feeling, but I'm OK with it," Snee said. "It means we've accomplished a lot together to stay in one spot, and to have two Super Bowl trophies is something that we're both proud of."
Snee hopes there's one more championship run left in him and his quarterback. He understands there are no guarantees, so he takes nothing for granted.
"I'm taking advice from people who have been down this road and I'm taking it one day at a time," Snee said. "I don't want to look too far ahead and have something happen and have a disappointing season like I did last year and that helpless feeling."