*Tom Coughlin said rookie defensive tackle Marvin Austin has a "normal strain" in his hip flexor and the coach is hopeful the team's second-round draft choice will soon return to the practice field – though that didn't happen today. Austin and second-year pro Linval Joseph have an opportunity to earn playing time in the wake of Barry Cofield's departure, but Coughlin said they need to show him more than they have thus far.
"The level of concern is they're going to have to pick up the pace," Coughlin said. "They know what the numbers are and no matter what the rotation is, whether it's 4 and 3 or 3 and 4, they've all got to play and they've all got to contribute. You don't want them missing any time, obviously, but it's not only the time on the field but it's the time just being here, learning the Giant culture. All of those things are important.
"Barry is an outstanding football player and we hope that these guys will be the same. I see flashes of that kind of ability and we just have to continue to develop."
*Linebackers coach Jim Herrmann today made the strongest statement of camp regarding Matias Kiwanuka.
"He's going to play linebacker this year," Herrmann said of the player who was drafted on the first round in 2006 as a defensive end – and who played linebacker the following year. "Right now, he's playing the same position (on the strong side). He's got some adjusting to do because he's been away. But, when he came here right at first he played some. It's a position where there's different things to look at. He's adjusting well as he goes. Good studier, good kid, smart. Every day he learns more and more and more about the position. I think the biggest thing right now is just the coverage part and different things that that guy's required to do."
*Four NFL officials worked at practice yesterday and today: referee Gene Steratore, head linesman Jim Mello, umpire Bill Schuster and back judge Tony Steratore, Gene's younger brother. The officials today showed the players and coaches a video highlighting the rules changes for this season.
There is an emphasis this year on protecting defenseless players.
"You better know what you're doing with a defenseless player," Coughlin said. "What you can hit, where, who is a defenseless player. The additions of, for example, the running back that's held up. One of the problems with all that is we didn't always get a whistle, but we're supposed to get a whistle now. A whistle will stop a lot of that but there are certain situations that the players are unfortunately now, without a lot of football, this preseason is going to have to be a big learning experience, in my opinion, in that regard because there's semantics that go with the understanding of this and of course different parts of the anatomy involved too. I would say that that's going to take some adjustment."
*Starting cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster stepped up in practice today. Thomas intercepted a pass and led the vocal defensive charge and Webster knocked away an Eli Manning pass for Hakeem Nicks on the final play of the session….Safety Antrel Rolle intercepted a Manning pass for Bear Pascoe at the goal line…Linebacker Kenny Ingram continued his active camp by knocking down a Manning pass…Darius Reynaud got open in the middle of the defense and caught a Sage Rosenfels pass in the end zone. Reynaud later made a nifty one-handed grab of a Ryan Perrilloux pass on the sideline….Duke Calhoun got behind Michael Coe to catch a touchdown pass from Rosenfels, but the score was nullified when Gene Steratore flagged Mitch Petrus for holding.
*Players missing practice this evening included defensive tackle Marvin Austin (hip flexor strain), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (knee), wide receiver Devin Thomas (finger), offensive lineman Jim Cordle (knee), linebacker Spencer Paysinger (groin), safety Brian Jackson (back), cornerback Joe Burnett (hamstring) and wide receiver Sam Giguere (groin). Rookie tackle James Brewer left practice early with a lower leg injury. Wide receiver Domenik Hixon, who is sitting out about every other practice so his surgically-repaired knee, sat out. Safety Cary Harris (shoulder) returned to practice.
*Thomas, who dislocated his finger three days ago, hopes to play in the preseason opener Saturday in Carolina.
"I'm shooting to get back this week," he said. "It's all really going to be on the coaches and how confident they feel in me being out there, but I'm just going to bust my tail to get out there."
*The Giants have changed their practice time for Wednesday and Thursday to 2-4 p.m. at the Timex Performance Center. The team's first nine practices, including tonight's, began at 6 p.m.
*The Giants have instituted a phone hotline for fans seeking information about training camp practices. Fans may call 201-935-8111, extension 9385 to learn about practices times and other camp info.
*Timex, the official training partner of the Giants, is providing 20 lucky fans and their guests a VIP experience hosted by Super Bowl XXV MVP Ottis Anderson at the Timex Performance Center on Friday, August 19. Fans can enter by visiting Giants.com/Timex through Friday, Aug. 12.