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'Awkward' visits from players follow tentative lift of lockout

Ryan Clark and Charlie Batch

Ryan Clark and Charlie Batch Photo Credit: Getty Images

With U.S. District Court Judge Susan Nelson delaying her ruling on the owners’ request for a stay of her lockout injunction until Wednesday at 9 a.m. central time, the un-locked-out NFL opened its doors to its players Tuesday. But only the Giants made it worth their while to show up.

That could make the organization a target of wrath from the owners who abided by an NFL memo stating it would not be “appropriate” to conduct any football activities before Nelson rules.

Giants players Mario Manningham, Chris Canty and Brandon Jacobs all appeared at the Meadowlands yesterday. While Manningham left after a half hour, Canty, who has a $250,000 workout clause, said the Giants actually allowed him to get a workout because “We’re the New York Giants, a class act.” He also said he plans to come back as long as the doors are open.

All were allowed to visit with coach Tom Coughlin and his assistants.

The Jets followed the route most of the other teams took, allowing D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Jerricho Cotchery, Bart Scott, Brandon Moore, Mike DeVito and David Harris inside, but prohibiting them from working out or meeting with coaches.

“This experience is quite awkward,” Moore told the Daily News upon his departure. “This shows how silly it’s gotten.”

The appearances were more for show, since the NFLPA has asked Nelson to force the owners to begin the league year, which would open the way for free agency, contract negotiations and the crediting of time or outright paying of roster and workout bonuses.

Ferguson, for example, has a $750,000 workout bonus at stake, the NFL’s largest. But the owners will contest that, and Nelson has given them until 5 p.m. CST Wednesday to respond to the players’ demand.

Even if Nelson forces the owners to conduct business, a league spokesman said it would take “several days” to sort out the rules under which the league would operate in 2011. A lot of them undoubtedly would look like the 2010 rules, meaning no salary cap and six years of service before unrestricted free agency.

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