CINCINNATI - Last week when Tom Coughlin was asked if Prince Amukamara would travel with the Giants to the joint practices against the Bengals, he was befuddled.

"Why would he?" Coughlin shot back. "He can't play."

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And yet there he was on Tuesday with the team. Prince in the Queen City.

Coughlin was right, he can't play. Amukamara is still nursing a sore groin that has kept him sidelined for almost a week and isn't projected to return to the field until after the return to New Jersey. But that it was important for Coughlin to have Amukamara here with the team shows just how significant the cornerback is as a player and as a leader.

"I definitely look at it as a positive," Amukamara said of being included in the team's travel plans. "Coach Coughlin in the past, he's shown that if you are not playing or practicing there is no reason for you to travel, you should stay back and get treatment. But I think coach Coughlin is sending me the message that I am important to this team and that meetings and walk-throughs and the mental part of it is important."

The Giants also are light at corner. Chykie Brown, who injured his knee in Saturday's practice, did not make the trip. That leaves a lot of inexperienced defensive backs who will have to be coached up on the fly. Amukamara could help with that.

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"I would hope he sees me as a leader to just be here for the guys and lead them in any way I can," Amukamara said.