The Super Bowl champs were in business mode on Wednesday – the first day of OTAs. For many, it was the first step toward putting their memorable 2011 season (and the rings that came with it) behind them.
There were no pads, nor shells. But it felt like football, several players said. And after an offseason filled with Super Bowl appearances, ring ceremonies and next week’s visit to the White House, the Giants were relieved to get back to the gridiron.
As linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka put it: “We have our rings. They look nice. But it’s time to move on.”
Terrell Thomas was looking forward to putting the past in the past, as well. But for far different reasons. The former starting cornerback is currently on the road to recovery since suffering an ACL injury against the Bears last August. But Thomas, who was out on the practice Wednesday wearing a knee brace for precautionary reasons, said he’s ahead of schedule and will be “full go, without a doubt” by training camp. However, he added: “Probably no contact, but I’ll be able to do 7-on-7, team (drills) and all that.”
Thomas said he dealt a sobering reminder when fellow cornerback Brian Witherspoon went down with an apparent knee injury during practice. Witherspoon – who had been recovering from ACL surgery – was had to be helped onto a cart and was driven off the field. The Giants have yet to release official word of the injury, but coach Tom Couglin suspected Witherspoon had injured the same knee.
Thomas, who was right near Witherspoon at the time, called the injury “heartbreaking.”
CB Antuan Molden also suffered a hamstring injury, but told reporters he’s hopeful it isn’t significant.
“These workouts are important for everybody,” said head coach Tom Coughlin, who highlighted the importance of getting the young guys acclimated to a new system. “To get back into a football mentality.
“...It’s probably not quite closure, but it’s time to move on. You can sense it and you can feel it. As soon as the draft comes, get moving. That’s the feeling you get.”
After receiving his second Super Bowl ring in a ceremony last week at Tiffany & Co., Justin Tuck said his sights were set on getting more.
“Our thing now is we want to be a dynasty,” the defensive end said. “We want to make it a dynasty.”
Coughlin, of course, wasn’t as vocal about his dynasty aspirations.
“I think we’ve kind of raised the bar for our own performance – whether it be in the meetings on the practice field, on the game field,” the coach said after practice. “That’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see everyone come in here -- the young players, the new players -- understand the New York Giants’ championship culture, which is over the door to the locker room, and try to raise the level of the way that we try to raise the level of everything, so that it is championship level.”
Asked if it’s even possible for the Giants to build a dynasty in modern-day football, Tuck responded: “Why can’t you?”
“Why wouldn’t I feel that way?” he asked.
Slot receiver Victor Cruz said the Giants definitely have all the pieces to become a dynasty. But for Kiwi, it’s not for the Giants to say whether they’re dynasty-material.
“That’s not for us to do decide,” the linebacker said. “…If you’re talking about whether or not (you can be a dynasty), then I don’t think you really have the right to be talking about it. It’s not until it’s official and everybody can say unanimously that you’re a dynasty, then that’s when you become one.”
When reminded that his teammate Tuck was the one who helped fuel the “dynasty” headlines last week, Kiwi said the Giants can only take things “step by step.”
You continue to win games, you continue to win championships and then all of the rest of the stuff, all the accolades will fall where they have to,” he said. “We always want to be the best.”