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Sent: 08-27-15

E-GIANTS
Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

NOTEBOOK: COLLINS, PRINCE, RANDLE RECOVER;
CRUZ, RICHBURG STILL ON THE MEND; OSI RETURNS TO RETIRE

By Aaron Klein
This weekend marks the third week of the preseason, one that normally offers the most action for starters and other top players of any summer game. Of course, that means those starters and top players have to be available for action, and that might be a problem this week when the Giants "host" their roommates, the New York Jets.

See, while the Giants get a few players back in the lineup - safeties Landon Collins (knee) and Cooper Taylor (toe), receiver Reuben Randle (tendonitis, knee) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) are expected to be back in action - they will be without wide receiver Victor Cruz, whose knee is fine but his balky calf is keeping him out of action, and Nat Behre (calf), who returned to practice this week only to re-injure his torn calf. Center Weston Richburg, still struggling with ongoing tendonitis in his knee, has not been ruled out yet.

Just what is going on around here?

The Giants, like every other NFL team, dread injuries in the preseason and they have already had their fair share. Now, with just two preseason games left - frankly, the last one is there merely for the coaches to make decisions on the last few guys who could make the roster - this is it for the first-teamers. Should the Giants or any other team really follow suit and play their best players for the most time this Saturday against the Jets? With all of the injuries league wide, let alone in East Rutherford, maybe it's best to put bubble wrap around the best 35 guys and let the rest of them play instead.

Do the opposite. That's what George Costanza did.

Sounds crazy, I know. But with multiple players already lost for the year, the team will still have to play backups this week and next. Here's the plan, according to head coach Tom Coughlin:

"Well, we have played our people a little bit more this preseason," Coughlin said. "The third game, obviously, is an important game, just like any of them are but as far as advancing our people, we'll play a half. There may be some that extend and there may be some that won't not play a full half, but by and large, we'll plan on playing a half and a half."

Except some, like Cruz, Richburg, Berhe, won't play at all, and with an ever-evolving offensive line, playing quarterback Eli Manning for the entire first half against a Jets' defense that is not only among the best in the league, but one of the hardest-hitting units, too, could be a dangerous move.

***

Have you watched HBO's "Hard Knocks" yet? Well, you'll be glad to know that three ex-Giants look good to make the team: Steve Brown is listed as the starting strong safety, Quintin Demps, sign last week, is behind him, and Charles James III is making an impact as a reserve cornerback, special teamer and, oddly, he saw work as a running back during practice, too. Interesting. The Giants might regret letting any one of them go, let along all three.

***

The re-signed Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora this week, but don't break out your No. 72 jerseys yet. He signed a one-day deal so that he could retire as a Giant on Wednesday, and the respect he showed to the team, and vice versa, speaks volumes about his professionalism and the team's willingness to remain loyal to a player even after he leaves the nest.

In years past, Umenyiora had been critical and a tough negotiator, maybe too much so, and when he left for the Atlanta Falcons he was making a business decision, regardless of how much he may have felt slighted or how the Giants had made the command decision to part ways with the veteran.

Here's one anecdote that tells so much about Osi and the organization.

"I can't say enough about Mr. [John] Mara," Umenyiora said. "I remember in 2008, when I got hurt. I was laid in the hospital and everybody had left, and I was just laying there. They had told everybody I was out for the season. I didn't know what was going on. It was about 9, 10 o'clock at night and all of a sudden I see somebody walking into the hospital. [It] was Mr. Mara and he came in there and he sat with me for a little while and he talked to me. To this day, I will never forget that because it showed me what a person that he was. I wasn't going to be playing for the season; I was lost for the season. Everybody knew that. He did not have to do that. He didn't have to show that he was going to come in there and care for his player, but he did. I really appreciate that also. I love you, Mr. Mara. Thank you for everything you've done for me."

As for why he retired as a member of the Giants - he reportedly had an offer to go somewhere else but he declined - Umenyiora explained it thusly.

"I would literally be on the plane coming back from games - and I loved my Atlanta teammates, don't get me wrong - and we would be watching games, we'd be watching the Giants," Umenyiora said. "I would be openly cheering for the Giants in a plane full of Atlanta Falcons. They would be looking at me, ‘Is this guy out of his mind? What are you doing?' I just couldn't help myself. It was that Giant in me. So, there was no doubt about when it was time for to retire I was going to come here."

All class. Thanks for the memories, Osi.

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- Team Giants

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