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 would not commit to playing Sunday. What he did promise is that if he does play, he'll be the Osi of old.

"I wouldn't be out there if I wasn't going to be myself," the defensive end, who has missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain, said Thursday. "Nobody cares if you're injured, as evidenced with other players around here. Everybody just expects you to be the same guy no matter what. Whenever you feel able to go out and play is when you have to go out there and play. If I'm out there on the football field, I'll be myself."

Umenyiora suffered a high ankle sprain Nov. 28 against the Saints and has not played since. He returned to the practice field this week and was limited Wednesday and Thursday.

"Everybody who has had the same type of high ankle sprain that I had has told me it's a four-to-six-week recovery time," he said. "I've seen other guys who have had the same injury try to come back like a Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger, and it just seemed like they were completely off. So I was a little concerned about that. But after last week, things started to improve a little bit, and hopefully things will work out for me on Sunday."

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is excited about Umenyiora's return to practice. "Any time '72' walks on the field for us, he looks good to me," he said.

Umenyiora said he doesn't expect to come back and take his starting job back (especially given that it now belongs to Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul). And he said he's not averse to playing on the left side, a position he has not played since 2004.

"I don't expect to play a whole bunch of plays, but when I'm in, I'm going to come as hard as I can," he said. "I feel like I'm still one of the very good defensive ends, so as long as I can be myself, then I'll be out there. If not, then there's no point in taking away their reps."

The key for Umenyiora will be how he is able to burst off his ankle. "It's always explosiveness," he said. "My whole thing is my first step and my explosion. I have to have that. The past couple of weeks, I haven't had it, but it seems to be coming around now."

He said this season has not been frustrating or difficult at all. In fact, he said, he's enjoying it. "This has been a fun time," he said. It will be even more fun if the Giants can advance to the playoffs.

"I'm just happy and anxious to get out there," he said. " . . . I'm just happy to be able to come out here and help this team, especially at this particular time. I feel like I can help, and that's exactly what I'm trying to bring."

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