EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Hakeem Nicks returned to the Giants today and while the reasons for his recent absence remain a mystery, he said he is happy and healthy and looking forward to training camp.
"It feels really good to be back around my teammates and being in the locker room for the minicamp," Nicks said. "I'm excited about it."
The Giants opened their three-day mandatory minicamp and Nicks avoided more speculation and controversy by reporting for work. He had not participated in the Giants' organized team activities the last three weeks. Nicks chose not to divulge why he missed the voluntary workouts.
"I'm not here to talk about that," Nicks said. "I'm here to talk about me being here right now, so that's what I'm doing. I'm here. I'm happy to be back around my teammates."
Nicks said he spoke with general manager Jerry Reese during his absence, but did not confer with coach Tom Coughlin until his arrival this morning. Nicks suggested he should have communicated with Coughlin.
"I feel where he was coming from," Nicks said. "I could have done a better job at reaching out. We finally got to talk. We got things straightened out on that end. Coach Coughlin…that's my guy. That relationship can't go sour. I felt where he was coming from. I should have done a better job at reaching out to him, but I'm here now and they're excited to see me."
One player who certainly was glad to have Nicks back was Eli Manning. The star quarterback not only has one of his best receivers in camp, he no longer has to answer questions about Nicks' absence.
"It should be good to have him here and see what he can do and go out there and have a good practice," Manning said.
"We have three days of practice and we haven't had a practice yet (the first workout is later this afternoon), so I think we just have to continue going about our business as we've been these last few months," Manning added. "All we can do is go out there and keep trying to get better, keep working on our offense making sure everybody is doing the right things, in the right spots and having success."
"Eli tried to give me a hard time, but that can't go but too long," Nicks said. "He's excited for me to be back, making sure everything is good with me. I'm ready to take care of business."
Even with Nicks in camp, the Giants are missing one of their top receivers. Victor Cruz has not signed a contract for the 2013 season and is not obligated to be here. He has not joined the team for any offseason activity.
"I talked to Cruz," Nicks said. "He's doing good. His mind is in the right spot. He understands the business side of it. He understands the game as well, but he still loves this team and he still wants to be here."
All of those statements also fit Nicks, though he is expected to be limited in this camp. Last year, he missed three games and was limited in many others because of a knee injury he suffered in a Week 2 victory over Tampa Bay, a game in which he caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. That was after Nicks missed all the preseason due to a fractured foot suffered during last spring's OTAs. One of Nicks' offseason objectives has been to strengthen the knee so it is in top condition when training camp opens on July 26.
Nicks said he has been training in his native North Carolina.
"I'm healthy," he said. "I'm feeling really good. (In this camp I will) go out there and run around a little bit.
"Nothing too much is new for me in this offense, so it's just basically getting back into the routine with the offense. We had a jog-thru earlier. I jumped in there earlier and everything is just like clockwork to me now with this offense."
Although several teammates, notably Manning and Justin Tuck, answered numerous questions about Nicks, the receiver believes his absence did not create a distraction around the team.
"I never want to be detrimental in any kind of way to this organization, because they've been nothing but good to me," Nicks said. "The guys told me they don't feel like it was too much of a distraction. I took care of what I need to take care of and I'm here now and that's all that matters."