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Keith Rivers thinks Giants stole him from Bengals

Giants linebacker Keith Rivers, who was acquired from

Giants linebacker Keith Rivers, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Bengals on April 12, practices at the Giants OTA. (May 30, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Keith Rivers wants to press charges.

He was traded from the Bengals to the Giants in April for the pocket-change price of a fifth-round draft pick. But if he can produce like the player who was one of the top selections in the 2008 draft, the linebacker figures he'll have been involved in one of the more lopsided deals in NFL history.

"I was the ninth pick in the draft," Rivers said yesterday. "Anywhere near that [level of play for the Giants] and it's beyond a steal. It's armed robbery."

The burden of proof in this heist falls on Rivers. He's heard what people think about him -- that he's damaged goods -- and knows he hasn't played in an NFL game since the 2010 season because of a wrist injury.

The Giants paid relatively little to acquire him, not only in the trade but also in restructuring his contract. They voided the final year of his original contract with the Bengals, 2013, in which he was due to earn a base salary of $2 million, and also reduced his 2012 base from $2.16 million to $1.25 million.

That leaves Rivers in what he called a "play for pay" situation. If he performs well enough for the Giants, he could wind up with a long-term deal here, or with another team in the league. Rivers, though, said this season is about more than money.

"For me it's more about proving to myself that I am who I was and nothing has changed," he said.

As the Giants began their three-day minicamp yesterday, they were still trying to figure out how best to use Rivers.

"I'm interested to see what happens as well," he said with a grin. In yesterday's practices, he was playing outside linebacker with the second unit. He said he hasn't been in this kind of position uncertainty since he was a freshman at Southern Cal, checking out the depth chart and trying to judge where he stands in the coaches' eyes.

"It's a situation where when you've been hurt, you always want to show people what they've been missing," he said. "I'm excited to get out there and prove a lot of things to myself. Whenever you get hurt, there's always a little bit of 'Will I come back the same way?' And you work hard to make sure that you do."

Notes & quotes: T David Diehl participated in the minicamp after being arrested on DUI charges Sunday night. Describing the past few days as "awful" and "unlike anything I've ever experienced in my life," Diehl said he apologized to teammates and thanked them for their support. He also said he will work to make young people more aware of the dangers of drunken driving.

"It's about my actions and how I handle myself from here on out," he said. "I'm a positive role model, I'm going to continue to be one, and people are going to see the way that I handle myself and the way that I carry myself and I'm going to show the people who are behind me that they're not wrong."

DE Osi Umenyiora participated only in some light drills, apparently pacing himself after missing most of the OTAs . . . Others who did not practice were DT Shaun Rogers (elbow), WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), CB Corey Webster (hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (work visa), TE Travis Beckum (knee), S Tyler Sash (hamstring), LB Clint Sintim (knee) and DT Chris Canty (knee).

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