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Giants honor practice players by allowing them to honor former Big Blue stars 

Carter Coughlin wearing a Lawrence Taylor Giants Ring

Carter Coughlin wearing a Lawrence Taylor Giants Ring of Honor jersey at practice.  Credit: Giants.com/Matthew Swensen

When they told Carter Coughlin he could choose which Ring of Honor jersey he’d be wearing at practices this past week, he initially was torn.

He thought about selecting Jessie Armstead, who is on the Giants’ staff and on the field with the team most days. He thought it would be a nice way to honor someone who has been helpful to his own young career.

Eventually, though, he realized there was only one answer.

"I had to roll with LT because the reality is he essentially created the position I’m playing today," the rookie linebacker told Newsday. "I had to pay my respects to him."

So when the Giants were on the field this week, Coughlin was wearing a navy blue 56 jersey with "Taylor" written across the back in honor of the Hall of Famer.

He was out there with a few other all-time Giants greats, including Frank Gifford (worn by backup quarterback Colt McCoy), Mel Hein (cornerback Jarren Williams), George Martin (defensive lineman David Moa) and Chris Snee (guard Chad Slade).

It was like a Giants "Field of Dreams," but with MetLife Stadium and the New York City skyline behind them instead of rows of corn.

The throwbacks were the idea of assistant general manager Kevin Abrams, who suggested it to Joe Judge as a way to not only recognize the squad’s practice players of the week for their efforts on the scout team but also to strengthen the bond with the franchise’s rich history.

"It’s up to us to understand the history of this organization and who has come before us to make this a great place to be," Judge said. "There’s pictures and there’s sayings all over the building that reference players who came before, coaches who came before. It’s important that we understand who those players are and why they’re significant."

It’s why Judge didn’t just hand out those special jerseys. First the players had to do some research on their selection, and they all made their choices for different reasons.

Williams, a defensive back, chose Hein because he wore the same number at the University at Albany that Hein wore as an MVP center for the Giants in the 1930s: 7.

"It would be absolutely devastating if we ever had a current player run into a guy who’s in the Ring of Honor and not understand who he is or why he’s significant," Judge said (though there is no danger of that with Hein, who died in 1992 at the age of 82, five years before Williams was born).

As for Lawrence Taylor, Coughlin said he has not met him.

"Obviously I knew who LT was before I became a Giant, but there were some really cool details that I got to learn about him that escalated the respect I already had for him," Coughlin said before rattling off some of Taylor’s records for sacks and Pro Bowl appearances. "Clearly he was going crazy."

So Coughlin wore Taylor’s name and number all week. But was he able to embody the Hall of Famer a little bit while representing him?

Coughlin chuckled.

"I’d like to think I did," he said. "But I don’t know."

That wasn’t the point of the exercise, anyway.

"As I’ve been able to learn more, I have so much more pride to be playing for the New York Giants," Coughlin said. "It’s cool to be recognized by the coaches that me and some of the other guys have been practicing really hard and making the team better, but it’s even cooler to wear LT’s number out at practice and continue to build on that pride I feel."

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