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Nicks confident he can play

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While already posting a career-high yardage total this season, Hakeem Nicks is in position to set another personal best in the final week: games played.

The wide receiver played in 14 games as a rookie in 2009, 13 last season, and is currently in a holding pattern with 14 this season. The only thing in his way of making it 15 is a hamstring strain that held him out of practice again on Thursday, the second straight one he's missed.

Nicks, however, did test it out on Thursday, doing some backpedaling and striding drills. He couldn't lie afterwards and said he felt it and that it wouldn't go away overnight. Luckily, says Nicks, he knows how to play with it, having gone through the same injury that kept him out of the New England game in Week 9.

"You're not going to feel great," said Nicks, who has 71 catches for 1,116 yards and six touchdowns this season. "At the same time, luckily I've dealt with this before in the season. In the past, I learned how to work on it and know how to get loose and know when I'm loose enough to stretch the field. I know how to work with it."

Nicks added there's not a doubt in his mind that he's playing against the Cowboys. He also plans on practicing on Friday to avoid any surprises when he tests it out before the game.

"I want to know at least from a standpoint of where I'm going to be at so I know how to prepare myself mentally," Nicks said, adding, "I kind of feel like I know what I'm working with now. We know how to probably game plan around it. Hopefully it won't limit my game. Hopefully I can still have the extra burst to push it downfield and do what it is that I do and make plays for us."

Meanwhile, fellow wide receiver Mario Manningham (knee), who has missed three of the last five games, was limited in practice again. He was able to do more than Wednesday and looked "fast," according to Tom Coughlin.

Treating his own knee injury, tight end Jake Ballard was out of practice again.

"He ran hard yesterday, did a lot yesterday," Coughlin said. "They didn't want to do that again today. He wasn't ready to do that today."

"You wish Jake was there and could play but we have been fortunate this year that when guys have been hurt, people stepped up and filled in and have done a good job for us," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. "We are looking forward to seeing what Travis [Beckum] can do. When he has been healthy, he has made some plays and hopefully he or Bear [Pascoe] will do it."

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