It was only the first OTA of spring, but in case anyone underestimates the value of Giants wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, their absence from Wednesday's workout underscored it. Cruz is involved in contract negotiations and wasn't expected to take part, but the surprise absence of Nicks threw a monkey wrench into coach Tom Coughlin's day.
Asked about Nicks' status, the coach didn't hide his displeasure. "I don't know," Coughlin said. "He should be here."
Was he expecting Nicks to show for the voluntary workout? "Yeah. Sure, I did," Coughlin said. "I expect everybody here. I'm trying to get our team better here."
Nicks underwent a minor arthroscopic knee procedure during the offseason and also is on the mend from a foot injury, but Coughlin said that had nothing to do with the receiver's absence. "He would have some kind of limitations, I'm sure," Coughlin said. "But that's not the reason."
That throws the door open to speculation as to the cause of Nicks' no-show. He's entering the final year of his contract, and it's possible the time for an extension might seem ripe with Cruz in the process of hammering out a long-term deal. As for Cruz's status, a variety of Giants officials have assured negotiations are progressing.
"I'm always optimistic," Coughlin said of Cruz. "I'm always looking forward to thinking that. When it happens he'll be in here, and we'll have time to get some work done. That's all I can tell you."
In lieu of Cruz and Nicks, backup receivers Jerrel Jernigan, Rueben Randle and Louis Murphy got the bulk of work with quarterback Eli Manning. Jernigan said it was the first time in three years he had a full practice with the starting quarterback, so, the extra attention might benefit the backups.
But Manning was of the same mind as Coughlin about the need for everyone to refine their timing. "There was no reason to think he wasn't going to be here," Manning said of Nicks.
If it was a physical issue that kept Nicks home, Manning said he understood the importance of being healthy. "We need to improve; we've got to rep things; we've got to make sure we're doing everything we can to play our best," Manning said. "That involves being healthy. It also involves practice and getting reps.
"You've still got to work on basics. Everybody needs it. How many times have I thrown a hitch in my life or a curl route? I've still got to do it . . . You still have to have all your guys out there."
Notes & quotes: Starting fullback Henry Hynoski went down from a non-contact injury and was carted off. The Giants said he injured a knee and will undergo an MRI exam to determine the damage.