Tom Coughlin wants every one of his players on the field during these OTAs, working toward the 2013 season and refining aspects of their game that can only be sanded down and varnished with the time and pace of offseason practices. The problem, however, is that the workouts are voluntary.
"How do I balance it?" Coughlin said, repeating a question posed to him Thursday after a practice in which two starting defensive ends and two starting wide receivers were absent -- one of them for reasons apparently not entirely clear to Coughlin. "Not very well."
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No one expects Victor Cruz to show up until his contract situation is hammered out. And Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul told Coughlin they would not be participating Thursday (Tuck is hosting a charity event later in the day). But Hakeem Nicks' status for these OTAs remains a mystery. He has not participated in any of the workouts since they began last week.
"At one point Hakeem told me he was going to be here and then he was not here," Coughlin said, noting that he has not heard directly from Nicks. "In the strictest interpretation, everyone knows it's a voluntary program."
But that doesn't mean Coughlin isn't taking attendance and noticing who's here and who isn't.
"It would be great to have all of our guys working and feeling good about the progress we're making as a team, and that type of thing," Coughlin said. "That's just from a coach's perspective. You deal with some of this pretty much on a yearly basis and it's a product of our system, and that's the way it is. I can complain all I want, but nevertheless, it is our system."
While many speculated that Nicks' absence was a warning shot in early contract negotiations, his agent last week strongly refuted a report of that suggestion.
Coughlin said he usually hears from players who cannot attend an OTA workout, as he did from Tuck and Pierre-Paul. He said he expects them to be on the field Friday for the next OTA.
"I have not [heard from Nicks]," Coughlin said. "I can't speak for anyone else. I don't know that. As far as I know, no one has."
Notes & quotes: Veteran defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who impressed the Giants by shedding about 50 pounds before training camp last season but spent the year on IR (calf), said he was able to keep the weight off. "We're in good graces as far as that's concerned," said Rogers, who is listed at 350 pounds. "We're in line with where we want to be." . . . With fullback Henry Hynoski (knee) likely sidelined until August, the Giants will have tight end/fullback Bear Pascoe in his position for the time being. "If there's a qualified guy, we would consider it," Coughlin said of adding a traditional fullback to the roster for training camp. He also said newly signed tight end Chase Clement (LSU) can play some fullback . . . The Giants added linebacker Kyle Bosworth, nephew of famous linebacker Brian Bosworth. Kyle Bosworth played two seasons for the Jaguars . . . Marc Ross, the team's director of college scouting, has been given a new title with broader responsibilities: vice president of player evaluation.