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The six-year veteran yesterday joined the Giants, who needed help in their backfield because David Wilson is out indefinitely with a neck injury and Da’Rel Scott was waived/injured this week. Hillis looked for teams that might need a running back before signing with Tampa Bay on July 24 and after he was released on Sept. 21. The Giants didn’t meet his criteria then. But here he is.
“In my career, I found out that anything can happen,” said Hillis, who has previously played for Denver, Cleveland and Kansas City. “Just because a team looks like they can have backs, I’m assuming here they didn’t expect to go 0-6, either. Things happen and you have to rebound from that, and we just have to take it one game at a time right now.”
The Giants return to action Monday night at home against the 1-4 Minnesota Vikings. Hillis will have participated in four practices but believes that’s enough for him to contribute as the Giants try to win for the first time this season.
“If I can get back into shape and learn the small things on third down and stuff like that, I feel like I really can,” he said. “I wouldn’t think it would be more than a few days (to learn the offense). Physically, it takes about a week or two to get back into shape, but I don’t have a week or two. I have until Monday night, so we’ll get it done then.”
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A week ago, Hillis didn’t expect to be preparing to play on Monday Night Football. After the Bucs let him go, he went home, wondering if he’d get another chance.
“I’ve been in Tennessee, where my wife and I live now, for three weeks,” Hillis said. “I was helping with the local high school, working out and stuff like that. I really wasn’t expecting a call, but I’ve got it and I was talking to my wife about it and we feel that this is a good opportunity for me to show what I still have. We’re taking a positive outlook toward this right now.”
Hillis would like to be the player he was in 2010, when he rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Browns. He believes that hasn’t yet happened in part because of a lack of opportunities. Hillis played behind Jamaal Charles in Kansas City and Doug Martin in Tampa Bay.
“It’s good to finally get another opportunity,” he said. “I felt the past couple of years I really haven’t had an opportunity to show what I can do and I think I’m going to get my shot, so I better do it well.”
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Another running back, Andre Brown, returned to the practice field for the first time since suffering a broken bone in his leg in a preseason game at New England on Aug. 29. He is on injured reserve/designated for return and isn’t eligible to play in a game until Nov. 10 vs. Oakland.
“I did some individuals, cut, catch,” Brown said. “I even ran down there on special teams a little bit on kickoff. Just getting back into things. I’m going to take it day-by-day and if my number’s called, I’ll be ready to go.
“They held me back. I ran over to Ronnie (Barnes, the team’s senior vice president of medical services) and asked if I could do this and he was like, ‘No, junior.’ He calls everybody ‘junior.’ He was like ‘No, junior, individual, that’s all you have today.’ I’m definitely eager to get back out there and get with the fellas. I just can’t wait but they want me to relax a bit. We’ve got time. As long as I’m in shape and I’m continuing to show progress, I feel like it’s going to be beneficial at the end.”
The Giants will play two games and have their bye week before the Raiders visit, but Brown is already looking forward to that contest.
“It’s an eternity, but I really feel that way, that I’m going to be ready in Week 10,” Brown said.
- And yet another back…Tom Coughlin was asked if rookie seventh round draft choice Michael Cox is ready to be a change-of-pace back for the offense.
“Let’s hope,” Coughlin said. “That’s what he was drafted for. He’s certainly going to get the practice time that he needs and he’s gotten some more practice time. It’s getting closer.”
- Wilson has already been declared out of the Minnesota game because of the neck injury he suffered two weeks ago vs. Philadelphia.
Cornerback Terrell Thomas did not practice because he rested his surgically-repaired knee. Thomas is sitting out one day a week.
Six players were limited: Center David Baas (neck), running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), cornerbacks Corey Webster (groin) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring), safety Cooper Taylor (shoulder), and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot).
Bass has missed the last three games, Webster the last four, Hosley the last two, Cooper sat out the most recent game and Robinson has yet to play this season.