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Herzlich looking to return next week, but will the Giants?

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is hit by New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich (58) after releasing a pass during the second quarter. (Nov. 28, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

Mark Herzlich thinks he’ll be ready to play next week … if there is a next week.

The Giants have to win on Sunday to advance to the playoffs, but if they do Herzlich said he should be coming off his high ankle sprain and ready to play against either the Lions or the Falcons.

“That’s the hope,” the linebacker said. “That’s what the goal has been the whole time.”

That the Giants have not put Herzlich on injured reserve shows what they think he can contribute in the playoffs. He had evolved into their starting middle linebacker until he sprained his ankle against the Saints. He’s been sidelined since then.

It was the same game that Osi Umenyiora sprained his ankle in. Herzlich said he not only had a high ankle sprain but “a little chip on the bone” that will not require surgery.

“That’s what kept me from doing the pounding” that comes with running, he said. He had to wait five weeks for the bone to heal. It will be five weeks on Monday.

“It’s disappointing and frustrating but I guess it’s part of it,” he said of climbing the depth chart from undrafted free agent to starter only to have the injury sideline him. “The first week you watch practice and you’re like ‘Why am I watching practice?’ But then you just have to get yourself better. For me it was not going to be a two-week thing. I had to wait until it got to where I could actually play.”

Herzlich is a cancer survivor, but said neither his rare bone cancer nor the treatments he had to battle the disease have any effect on how his ankle responds.

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