Domenik Hixon believes he owes the Giants something.

"It's one of those things, they gave me an opportunity when I got released from Denver [in 2007]," he said Friday. "And then these past two years with knee injuries, they stuck with me. They could have cut me and let me be on my way and be done with me . . . I know a lot of times in the NFL, loyalty isn't that big. But in this situation, I really felt like I wanted to be here. They helped me out time and time again. I wanted to stay here and repay that."

The Giants wanted him to stay, too. That's why they re-signed him Friday before he could become a free agent on March 13.

Hixon has played in only two games in the last two seasons because of two ACL tears in one knee (his right). He was examined by team doctors Friday morning and later in the day signed a new contract, believed to be a one-year deal. His signing leaves the Giants with 20 potential unrestricted free agents less than two weeks before the market opens and almost assuredly means that the team will not re-sign Mario Manningham, one of the 20.

As for his rehab, Hixon said he thinks he's progressing more rapidly than he did from his first surgery.

"I personally feel like I'm further along with the strength and the coordination, different things like that," he said. "Is it because I know what's coming and I'm prepared for it? But I feel real good . . . My goal when I get back is to be at full speed and show the training staff and everybody else I'm physically ready to play and ready for it for years to come."

Hixon, 27, said he wants to participate in OTAs during the spring, that he's "champing at the bit." The Giants will likely be very cautious with him, as they were last summer. A third ACL tear would almost certainly be a career-ender.

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"I don't want to limit myself in what I can do, especially because of injury," Hixon said. "It's part of the game and I'll work twice as hard not to get injured . . . This isn't a one-and-done type deal. I plan to play four or five more years, longer than that if I'm able. This is just a little interruption."