EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Two Giants players who did not travel to Cincinnati last week because of injuries said they will return to the field today. And another player who was little more than a spectator on the trip might soon join them.
Linebacker Jameel McClain and guard Geoff Schwartz are expected to participate when the Giants practice for the first time since their 23-10 preseason-opening loss Friday night to the Bengals. Cornerback Prince Amukamara won't work today, but expects to very soon and has not ruled himself out of the Giants' home game Saturday night vs. Jacksonville.
McClain has been sidelined since suffering a stinger in practice on Aug. 5.
"I'm going to practice today, so I'm full tilt until a coach pulls me back," McClain said. "I'm ready."
McClain was one of five Giants who stayed in New Jersey while the Giants practiced twice with the Bengals and then played them in the game. He said that gave him an opportunity to continue rehabbing, which accelerated his recovery and gave him the chance to return to the field today. But missing the long trip and the time with his teammates was no fun.
"That was my toughest part," he said. "I know my teammates are mad at me. (I was) calling them, calling coaches and finding out what's going on at Cincy. How's everything going? That's the toughest part for me, but getting a chance to be here and get myself better and even more shape, doing some rehab, focusing on a little more of the football plays. But it was really tough to be here, it was really tough to watch it on TV, to be honest."
Neck issues are always treated with great care and caution by medical staffs around the NFL, but McClain's latest incident sent up another red flag. In 2012, he suffered a spinal cord contusion that forced him to miss the final three regular-season games, the entire postseason (including Super Bowl XLVII) and the first six games of the 2013 season.
But he has not missed a regular-season game since and expects his streak to remain intact after getting clearance to practice.
"I had my fair share of tests," McClain said. "That's not in any comparison to what I went through before. What I went through before, I saw about 13, 14 doctors. Anything short of 13, I was going to be excited with. So I was good, man. They did all of their due diligence to make sure I was right, but it was clear from looking at the MRI that this wasn't the same scenario, this was just a mild incident."
Schwartz suffered two major injuries last season, a dislocated toe on Aug. 22, and a fractured ankle that required surgery in his second game back, on Nov. 30 in Jacksonville. His practice attendance was sporadic early in training camp, but Schwartz expects the week spent in the trainer's room will keep him on the field more regularly.
"After both injuries I had last year, (it's) just kind of getting the body back to where it needs to be," said Schwartz, who expects to start at right guard. "It just takes time, and that was kind of what last week was. It was nothing more than that. I didn't have a setback, I really have no worries going forward that my ankle will be fine. I'm not worried about that.
"I'll be back today, excited to get back out there to be with my teammates, first and foremost, to compete and go from there. Worry about everything else later."
Like McClain, Schwartz didn't enjoy missing the practices/game/team bonding in Ohio.
"Being out is tough," he said. "I've been out enough, so it's kind of frustrating to just not be able to play, not be with my teammates. Last week was really tough, just not being at Cincinnati. That was something that we looked forward to doing as a team. I know this offensive line, since minicamp really, we knew who we were up against in Cincinnati, and to not be a part of that, it's pretty upsetting."
Schwartz hopes his return today puts him on a straight path to the Giants Kickoff Weekend game in Dallas.
"I think that's everyone's goal, to be able to play in Week 1," he said. "I need to get in shape, I need to get out there, I need to play, I need the reps, I really need the reps. Being back this week will only help that."
Amukamara has been sidelined with a groin injury. He traveled to Cincinnati but did not practice or play. Amukamara expects to increase his activity, beginning today.
"I don't know if I'm going through warmups, but I know I'm going to run and see where I am," he said. "I think the biggest test for me is just exploding out, and cutting and doing a lot of lateral movement because of my groin. We're going to go from there.
"The first time I started running since my injury was at the game on Friday. I usually do my lap around, which I did, and I did a lot of lateral stuff and it felt good then."
Because there's no need to rush back in the preseason, a more likely return date for Amukamara is Aug. 29 vs. the Jets.
"I would say maybe against the Jets at the latest, but I wouldn't rule the Jaguars (game) out," Amukamara said. "I just have to see how I do today."
Amukamara is listed as day to day, as is cornerback Trumaine McBride (hamstring), safeties Nat Berhe (calf strain) and Landon Collins (knee sprain), and wide receiver Rueben Randle (tendonitis). Cornerback Jayron Hosley is undergoing the concussion protocol and his cervical issue continues to be evaluated. Yet another corner, Chykie Brown has a sprained knee and is week to week.