Hakeem Nicks says he's a lot healthier for rematch against Cowboys

Hakeem Nicks celebrates a first down in the

Hakeem Nicks celebrates a first down in the second quarter of a game against the Washington Redskins. (Oct. 21, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

Hakeem Nicks was limited to four catches for 38 yards when the Giants played the Cowboys in the opener. Who or what did the limiting is open to interpretation.

The Cowboys likely would say that their schemes and the play of rookie Morris Claiborne in his first NFL game led to those unimpressive numbers, the worst by Nicks against Dallas since his rookie year. But Nicks said his foot injury and his return from offseason surgery on it was more the cause. Claiborne and the Cowboys' defense?

"I don't think it was nothing that he did or nothing that they did," Nicks said.

On Sunday, he plans on proving it. Nicks said he is as healthy as he has been this season and is feeling like a big game is on the horizon.

"I'm a lot healthier now," Nicks said Wednesday. "Especially in the last couple of weeks I feel like I finally got over the little hump. The last game [against the Redskins] I feel like it broke me in a little more in the foot and the knee. Today was a great practice for me. I feel like I got back to myself a little bit. I feel like I was getting in and out of my routes and having that full confidence back.

"I think it will be a great week for me."

Nicks is not having a great season. Although he bounced back from the opener to catch 10 passes for 199 yards against the Bucs in Week 2, he injured his knee in that game and had to return to the rehab area. He missed three games and returned against the 49ers two weeks ago, a game in which he had three catches. On Sunday against the Redskins he had five receptions, including one in which he tip-toed along the sideline.

In practice Wednesday, though, Nicks apparently flashed in a way he hasn't so far this season. And he wasn't the only one to notice it.

"I saw there was a different burst, [he was] running differently," Eli Manning said. "I think he's just getting more confident and trusting everything and feeling better. That's always good for us."

Doing that against a scout team Wednesday is one thing. Doing it against the Cowboys' defense on Sunday will be another. Or will it?

"I think definitely practice translates to game day," Manning said. "Especially for him. If he can be good on practice, especially early in the week, hopefully everything will continue to get stronger and stronger and he can be great on Sunday."

Nicks was a full participant in practice Wednesday, the first time he accomplished that. It comes off his practicing all three days last week, the first time he accomplished that.

Now that he's feeling healthier, Nicks said he expects his game to take on new lengths. "Stretch the field, take it over the top," he said. "My run after the catch. Certain things like that."

And he's looking forward to his rematch with Claiborne. Asked for his impressions of the youngster, Nicks shrugged. "I mean, he's a rookie," he said.

Claiborne likely will be going back to watch tape of the opener to see what worked against Nicks, see if he can find a little edge or advantage from their first meeting. Nicks welcomed that, but had a warning for him if he expects to see the same Hakeem Nicks on Sunday.

Said Nicks: "He'll get a different dose than he got in the first game."

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