Dan Graziano | ESPN.com
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said he felt healthy enough to play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but that coach Tom Coughlin told him the morning of the game that he hadn’t practiced enough and would be inactive.
“Obviously, I always want to play, but I’ve got to respect Coach Coughlin and his wishes,” Nicks said. “I understood where he was coming from, which is that I didn’t show him enough in practice.”
Nicks practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday this week and was a full participant in practice Friday. He’s officially listed as probable on the team’s injury report and expects to play Sunday night against the Redskins in Washington.
“I did everything in practice, wasn’t limited at all, so I think I’m good to start,” Nicks said. “I feel fine. I feel good, ready to get out there Sunday night. Sunday night football.”
Nicks has been struggling through a difficult final season of his contract, with no touchdown catches and only two games over 100 receiving yards. Last Wednesday, he surprised the Giants when he showed up and told them he had an abdominal injury he wanted to check out to see if it was a hernia.
Nicks told reporters that his agent had advised him to get the injury looked at, and he missed practice last Wednesday while getting it taken care of. He was limited in last Thursday’s and Friday’s practices but said late last week he expected to play, so he was surprised when Coughlin wouldn’t give him a uniform Sunday morning.
Coughlin was clearly irritated when addressing the situation Monday, and said that the missed practice time would have kept Nicks from being full-speed.
Nicks declined to engage in a discussion of the merits of that thinking.
“Anything negative isn’t any good to myself or to the team,” Nicks said. “Our focus is on winning our last five games.”
The Giants are 4-7 with five games to play. With Victor Cruz under contract long-term and second-year receiver Rueben Randle having developed well this year, it’s possible they move on from Nicks at the end of this season, especially if he’s determined to break the bank with a big unrestricted free-agent contract. But in the short-term at least, the Giants still would like to see a full-strength Nicks over their final five games.
“There’s no question we’re a better football team when he’s playing well,” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said Friday.