They're back to being the cheerleaders, the benchwarmers and the extra set of eyes on the sideline.
Their moment in the spotlight is over, thanks to the return of big-name Giants Justin Tuck, Brandon Jacobs and Chris Snee. But the backups understand they must forego personal rewards for the good of the team. And they're happy to do so.
"I like to joke around and say I keep the seat warm for Tuck and Osi [Umenyiora]," said Dave Tollefson, who is back to performing special-teams duties with the anticipated return of Tuck. "But seriously, we're all very prideful men and we're not going to let our teammates down. That's the biggest motivator for me. I want to perform because I owe it to my team to perform. Not because I get paid.
"I don't even feel like I'm being demoted," added Tollefson, 30, who recorded three sacks as a fill-in on the Giants' injury-ravaged defensive line. "However I was contributing when I was playing defense, I'm going to try to do the same thing on special teams.''
But he's not the only Giant back on the bench. Kevin Boothe started two straight games this season -- one at center for David Baas, the other at right guard in place of Snee. But the six-year veteran again has slid back down the depth chart now that Snee (concussion) will start against Miami on Sunday.
"During the week, prepare as if you're starting even when you might not be,'' Boothe said. "Hey, you never know."
D.J. Ware, the Giants' third-string back, said he's happy to have their big-name players back -- even though Jacobs' return means far fewer carries.
"But it's just part of the game, though," said Ware, who had nine carries for 22 yards in two games without Jacobs. "It's been like that for five years, so ain't really nothing going to change, so whenever I get another chance to get back out there and play, I just got to make something special happen."
For "bottom-of-the-roster-guys" like himself, Tollefson said the bottom line is winning.
"It's about knowing your role and relishing it and giving it all you've got," he said. " . . . That kind of attitude is contagious. It comes from the bottom up. The tree pulls water from the bottom up. All you see is the leaves, but it's the roots that can make it strong."
Notes & quotes:CB Prince Amukamara (foot) was limited in practice and has been ruled out. FB Henry Hynoski (neck) did not practice and is doubtful. Despite not practicing, T Stacy Andrews (back) is questionable along with Tuck (groin/neck). Snee, Umenyiora (knee), Jacobs (knee) and LB Michael Boley (knee) are probable.