There were no shoulder pads. But it was football nonetheless.
After an offseason filled with Super Bowl appearances, ring ceremonies -- and a June 8 White House visit with President Barack Obama fast approaching -- the Giants were happy to return to a sense of normalcy Wednesday.
The first day of organized team activities was the first step toward putting their championship season (and the rings that came with it) behind them. But it also signaled the continuation of everything the Giants have built: a standard of excellence that has generated two Super Bowl titles in four seasons.
Justin Tuck helped create headlines last week when he spoke of building a "dynasty" during the team's ring ceremony. And the defensive end didn't back down Wednesday from his stated goal.
"Why wouldn't I feel that way?" he said, when asked if it's possible for the Giants to build a dynasty in this modern-day football era. "Why can't you?"
A handful of players are gone from last year's team, but the remaining Giants believe they have the right pieces to mimic last season's success. And the return to "a football mentality," as coach Tom Coughlin put it, already has begun.
"It's probably not quite closure, but it's time to move on," he said. "You can sense it and you can feel it. As soon as the draft comes, get moving. That's the feeling you get."
OTAs, of course, are voluntary. So it was no surprise Osi Umenyiora was nowhere to be seen. The disgruntled defensive end, who is in the final season of a seven-year, $41.38-million dollar deal, wants a new contract -- and he has yet to get it.
It's critical for the veterans who are present to be an example on the field, Tuck said. Soon free agents and rookies alike will have to learn what "Giants football" is all about.
"We don't care where you came from, what school you went to or what you did in college," Tuck said. "All that got you here, but now it doesn't mean a thing. You have to adapt to playing football how we play. And we've been successful doing it."
After a breakout 2011 season, Victor Cruz said his job now is to make sure the young guys are "a representation" of their veteran leadership.
"When you come into this locker room, you understand there's a high expectation here," the slot receiver said. "And I think winning the Super Bowl last year, everybody kind of looked around and understood we have the pieces in place to be a very good team for a very long time."
But it's still too early to tell if the Giants can maintain Super Bowl success, Cruz said. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka agreed, adding that it's not for the Giants to decide whether they're dynasty material.
"[When] everybody can say unanimously that you're a dynasty, then that's when you become one," he said.
When reminded that his teammate Tuck was the one who helped fuel the "dynasty" headlines last week, Kiwanuka said the Giants can take things only "step by step."
"You continue to win games, you continue to win championships," he said, "and then all of the rest of the stuff, all the accolades will fall where they have to."
Notes & quotes: CB Brian Witherspoon, who had been recovering from ACL surgery, re-injured his knee . . . CB Antuan Molden suffered a hamstring injury, but told reporters he's hopeful it isn't significant . . . The Giants' first-team O-line, from left to right: James Brewer, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee and David Diehl. RT Will Beatty (detached retina) watched practice from the sideline.