New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora practices with the...

New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora practices with the team for the first time during training camp. (Aug. 15, 2011) Credit: AP

Osi Umenyiora was on the field with his teammates Monday, taking part in practice, racing them in sprints off the ball and rushing the passer in full-contact drills.

But don't be fooled. This isn't over yet.

The defensive end kept his word and returned to participate in the workout, but he is far from abandoning his desire for a new contract or a trade to a team that will give him one.

"Just because he's back on the football field doesn't mean this whole saga is over," confidant Justin Tuck said. "But he's doing what he thinks is best to help this football team and himself, and you have to give him credit for that."

"I hope it's all behind [us], that's all I'm going on," said Tom Coughlin, who had not had an opportunity to speak with Umenyiora at length. "He's here, he wants to work, he wants to be a part of the team. We certainly want him to be. But we want it all. We don't want part of it, we want it all."

Umenyiora declined requests to speak with the media Monday. On Sunday he sent an email to The Associated Press saying he would practice but also saying the front office does not "respect the fact I sacrifice my health for the franchise." He also said the incentives he was offered by the team are "unacceptable" and that he turned them down.

He was smiling and having fun on the field Monday, though. He has two years left on his current deal. It remains to be seen whether he can grit his teeth and grin through two days of this, never mind two seasons.

"I know Osi, man," Tuck said. "He steps on a football field and his focus is as high as anybody's. He knows how to separate the two. A lot of guys don't have that capability. I know he does."

Umenyiora was put right into the starting lineup. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who dominated the first quarter of Saturday night's preseason opener against the Panthers, will back up Umenyiora and Tuck. "[That] serves us well in terms of a rotation," Coughlin said.

Pierre-Paul said he was fine with his demotion (although Coughlin made the point of saying that Tuck, Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul are considered first-teamers).

"I'd rather play both ends," Pierre-Paul said. "The more you learn, the more you can help the defense."

Umenyiora was universally welcomed back by his teammates, who cheered for him when he first appeared on the field. He finished second to Tyler Sash in a hot potato drill at the beginning of practice.

"We are excited," defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "He is a tremendous football player and a great teammate, so having him out here is going to be awesome for us. We are just putting more bullets in the gun."

"It's always good to have all your guys and everybody practicing and back," Eli Manning added. "If you can eliminate distractions, that's always a positive."

Only the symptom has gone away, though. The illness remains. Consider this a sun shower in the midst of Hurricane Osi. Even those closest to him know his mood and plan can change at any moment.

When Umenyiora told Tuck last Thursday, after visiting a knee specialist in Atlanta, that he would be back to practice Monday, Tuck said he received the news with an "OK, we'll see" attitude.

Said Tuck, "Osi's spoken a lot of things in the past that didn't come to fruition."

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