EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The state of Indiana has been good to Cody Latimer.
As a standout wide receiver for the state university, Latimer finished seventh in school history in both catches (135) and yards (2,042) and was impressive enough to be selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos.
Last Dec. 17, he played in Indianapolis for the first time as a professional and established a career-high with 60 receiving yards, tied another with three catches, and scored one of his three NFL touchdowns.
Tomorrow, the five-year veteran will seek some more Indiana magic. He will play for the first time since Oct. 11 when the Giants visit the Indianapolis Colts. Latimer was activated off injured reserve this week after missing eight games with a hamstring injury.
"First and foremost, I want to win," Latimer said. "But I want to be able to show how I faced adversity, hurt, possibly not be able to come back, work to get back, go out here and make plays and just show the team, my teammates how much I've missed them, how much I want to be out there, and do whatever I can to help the team and see what happens."
"He's physical, he's really hungry," offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. "He's ready to get back on the field and he's a big target for Eli (Manning), and got good hands and he's well-coached."
The Giants could certainly use Latimer. They announced yesterday that wideouts Odell Beckham, Jr. (quad) and Russell Shepard (ankle) will be inactive because of injuries.
Latimer played in four early-season games and caught six passes for 108 yards.
"He looks very solid on the practice field," Shula said. "If he plays like he's been practicing, I think he'll have a good day on Sunday. I think there might be just a little bit of catchup, but I think if there is a little rust, whatever word you want to use, I think he'll knock the rust off pretty quick."
Latimer joined the Giants as a free agent on March 19 with the expectation he would be a consistent contributor to the offense. Those hopes were derailed in a Thursday night game against Philadelphia, when he pulled his hamstring running down the field as a gunner on the punt team. The injury gutted his season.
"It was a worry (he would miss the remainder of the season)," Latimer said. "It was like, 'Man, I wonder if I'll be able to make it back.' After popping a hamstring, it's something serious, it's not just a light injury. It's how you run at my position, especially, so I was worried. But eventually I had to put my head down and with the support of my teammates and my family, I pushed through it. It gave me the extra boost to work harder and be able to come back, even if it's for one game. I just wanted to come back and be able to finish the season strong with the guys that have been fighting all year while I was down."
He made it back with two games to spare. Latimer credits fellow receiver Bennie Fowler, his teammate in Denver for three seasons, for helping him rehab.
"I got a great guy I've been with my whole career and he pushes me every day," Latimer said. "We have to both be able to put our head down and pick up the workload. I sit there and see him and I can't complain, because when he's playing on offense and having to go do special teams and I have to do the same job, I have to fight for my brother. We go at it and push each other. He won't let me fail."
Especially not in Indiana.
"It's like going back home," Latimer said. "It's close to my family from Ohio, so they're coming to visit. I'm excited. I'm looking at repeating (what he did last year) or do better. It's where I played my college ball, got some friends there from school, obviously. It's exciting."
It will be even more so if he contributes to a Giants' victory.