Hakeem Nicks wants to get on field but is being smart

Hakeem Nicks talks with rookie David Wilson during Hakeem Nicks talks with rookie David Wilson during Giants training camp in Albany, N.Y. (July 29, 2012) Photo Credit: Hans Pennink

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ALBANY -- After standing on the sideline for the first three practices of the season, Hakeem Nicks was given a menu of words from which to describe what it was like. Was he bored? Frustrated? Disappointed?

"You could say 'antsy,' " Nicks said Sunday, making his first comments in training camp, which began and continues with him on the PUP list. "I am ready to get back at it. I feel like I need to be out there with the guys, but following the team doctors and trainers."

That means another few weeks of antsy watching. Nicks broke a bone in his foot during an OTA in late May and had surgery the next day. At the time, the Giants said it would take him 12 weeks to return. That timeline puts him at mid-August, right when the team will break camp in Albany and get ready to play the Jets in the second preseason game.

Nicks, as we all heard at the time and have seen in the past, is a fast healer. Although he tried to be back in time for the start of camp -- and some thought he would be able to do it -- the Giants are tugging at the leash to keep him on their projected track. They want him ready for the Sept. 5 opener, not training camp or a preseason game.

"It definitely gets tempting," Nicks said of wanting to be on the field, "but sticking to the script like they said. I definitely want to be out there, but I got to do the right thing and be smart about it, and I don't want to prolong this injury."

Nicks said he has had no setbacks. He's not in any pain. He's not concerned about his conditioning, nor is he worried about losing time bonding with Eli Manning. He is doing some running on the side. And when he does return, he expects to pick up right where he left off.

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"Nothing less," he said.

While the Giants' No. 1 receiver convalesces, the battle for the No. 3 job continues. Jerrel Jernigan, who did not catch a pass his rookie season, has looked sharp early in camp. "I had to come in and make a big splash," the second-year receiver said.

Jernigan has looked good on his underneath routes and has shown an ability to get downfield, even beating Corey Webster on a deep ball this weekend. He's also playing much faster, as Manning pointed out, with increased confidence in the playbook and his own reads.

"It's only two days," Jernigan said. "We have a couple of weeks to go, so I just have to continue working."

Ruling didn't stun Nicks. Nicks wasn't shocked by the NCAA's recent ruling that his statistics at North Carolina in 2008 would be vacated.

"I'm not necessarily surprised because of the things they were doing in the past, and I wasn't willing to respond," said Nicks, who did not cooperate with the investigation. "They're obligated to do what they had to do over there. That's their job. It is what it is."

Nicks, the Giants' first-round pick in 2009, set school records at North Carolina with 2,840 career receiving yards, 21 touchdowns and 1,222 receiving yards in 2008. The school vacated its wins and statistics for ineligible players from 2008-09 after the NCAA found that the school had provided improper benefits and committed academic misconduct.

"I'm not ashamed of where I went to school," Nicks said. "I'm proud of Carolina, proud to be a Tar Heel. Much love for the school."

With Bob Glauber

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