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Rookie WR Nicks feels faster after losing pounds

ALBANY - Many rookies come into their first NFL training camp with a hungry look in their eyes. First-round pick Hakeem Nicks is no exception. The only difference is that he really is hungry.

The wide receiver with a sweet tooth admitted to missing his midnight rendezvous with Little Debbie snack cakes and other assorted treats in recent weeks. It's been an up-and-down couple of months for Nicks on the scale, and now that his weight is down, he wants to stay there.

"I got on a little diet," he said, rattling off the foods he now avoids. "Really a lot of candy and junk food. Debbie cakes, Zebra cakes, oatmeal cakes, stuff like that. I like a lot of snacks."

Nicks played at North Carolina last season at 212 pounds. But when he injured his hamstring at the combine in February, it prevented him from training and burning off the snack food. He went up to 225 pounds and looked slow and out of shape at his pro day. The Giants still selected him - they might not have had a chance to take him with the 29th pick had he been in shape - and he reported to minicamp at 215 pounds.

The Giants still weren't happy. So they set Nicks up with a nutritionist in North Carolina and asked him to show up in Albany even lighter. He did, weighing in at 202 at the start of camp.

"I feel quicker," he said, adding that he hopes to play at 205 this season, the lightest he's been since his senior year in high school. "I'm going to adjust to playing this light. If anything I'll be faster and benefit from it."

Nicks didn't take the camp by storm the way last year's first-round pick, Kenny Phillips, did. It's been a slow process for Nicks as he works on limited reps. Friday, he caught the longest pass of his camp so far, a deep post from David Carr about 35 yards downfield. But in this camp, it's not about what a player has done in the past. Nicks sat out Saturday morning's practice with a tight hamstring, something that seemed to irk Tom Coughlin.

"That was [Friday] night," the coach said Saturday when asked about the vertical threat Nicks provides. "Today is this morning. He wasn't even out there."

Nicks said it's his right hamstring, the same one he pulled at the combine, that is giving him trouble. But he also said he's not concerned about it.

"I don't feel like it's serious enough to have me missing too many days," he said. "It's not to the point where I pulled it. I'm able to catch it before it gets to that."

The Giants hope Nicks can catch a lot of things this season. And that he'll be back on the field soon. One of the reasons the team wanted Nicks to drop the weight was to aid his recovery from injuries.

Now we'll see if avoiding all of those Little Debbie Cakes is worth it.

Notes & quotes: C Shaun O'Hara (triceps), WR David Tyree (groin) and DT Chris Canty (hamstring) joined Nicks on the sideline yesterday . . . OL Cliff Louis suffered a bad injury to his left ankle when he had it rolled by fellow lineman Will Beatty, who was driven backward by DE Dave Tollefson. It capped what was a physical segment of the evening practice that started with FB Madison Hedgecock decleating LB Bryan Kehl downfield, the two players tussling after a pair of plays, and some loud barking between the offense and the defense. After Louis' injury, Tom Coughlin gathered the team and told them to stop with the fighting.


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