EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Andre Brown expects to play in his first regular-season game in 350 days when the Giants host the Oakland Raiders Sunday in MetLife Stadium.
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Tom Coughlin hasn't officially announced that Brown will be activated off injured reserve, but all signs point in that direction. Brown has been practicing, the Giants' rushing attack needs a boost and Coughlin is eager to see what Brown can do.
"Andre Brown, all I think about is when he played a year ago," Coughlin said. "I'm looking forward to the return of that player, quite frankly. Size, speed, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he does a good job in pass protection. You sometimes forget that the guy is 230 pounds. That's a little bit of a different dimension."
Brown was one of the Giants' most valuable offensive players last season, rushing for 385 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns, including one in each of his final five games. But soon after his final score, against Green Bay last Nov. 25, Brown fractured his fibula, an injury that ended his season.
He returned to lead the team with 27 rushing attempts in the preseason, but hurt the same leg in the finale at New England on Aug. 29. For the second year in a row, Brown was placed on injured reserve/designated for return. Last season, the Giants didn't extend their season long enough for him to return. Not so this year.
"I think he's ready to help," Coughlin said. "I think there's a big difference between game day and practice. He has made steady progress and he has developed a lot of his confidence, I think, based on what's going on on the practice field. In the very beginning you could hear him mumble things like, 'I really missed that cut, I should have slammed my foot down and gone in the opposite direction' and that kind of stuff. He got much better as we went along."
So what can the Giants realistically expect from Brown?
"Forty carries and 15 receptions," Coughlin said, almost smiling. "Run the kickoffs back. What else would you like?"
The Giants will settle for a lot less, primarily because they're happy to have Brown back on the field.
"It's a great tribute to Andre with the way he's worked to come back from these injuries," Eli Manning said. "I know it's been frustrating for him, but he's done a great job of just staying positive and obviously the team has supported him and we have his back and hopefully he can come back and help us out."
The Giants need more production from their rushing attack, which ranks 30th in the NFL in both yards per game (69.9) and per carry (3.2). They've already had five starting running backs this season: David Wilson, Da'Rel Scott, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis and Michael Cox. Wilson is sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury, Scott is no longer with the team, and Jacobs missed the last two games before the bye with a hamstring injury.
A void exists that Brown can fill. Asked what he can contribute, Brown said, "A lot. I feel like whatever they put me in, I'm going to go out there and give it my best shot and make sure I make a play."
The 2-6 Giants need to work their way into the playoff race, so they can't wait for Brown to shed any rust that might have accumulated from inactivity.
"We're going to get over that quick because we have to," Brown said. "We're professionals and we have to go out there and play ball. I'm pretty sure pass protection, guys rushing at me and I have to pick up the blitz and whatnot, is going to be hard, but I know I'm going to be able to pick it up. I'm going to be able to go out there and do my job and I'm looking forward to it."
So are the Giants.
QUICK HITS >>
- Tight end Brandon Myers spent his first four NFL season with the Raiders, for whom he caught 79 passes in 2012. Despite that, the game Sunday seems no more special to him than any of the other 15 contests on the Giants' schedule.
The Raiders chose not to re-sign Myers, who joined the Giants on March 17.
"I think anybody would take it personally, but I'm happy with where I'm at," Myers said. "I'm fine with it. I found a place here that's a great organization and coaches. The guys in the locker room are great and I'm happy to be here."
- Jason Pierre-Paul has just one sack this season, but the bye seems to have helped both his spirits and his surgically-repaired back.
"I feel great. I feel awesome," Pierre-Paul said. "Honestly, when it comes down to me, I feel good. I went out there and had a great practice. I'm starting to build that confidence back in myself."
- Wide receiver Victor Cruz (neck) and cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (knee) and Corey Webster (groin) did not practice today.
Cruz said he woke up yesterday with a little neck stiffness following the team's Monday workout.
"(There is) no concern, just some precautionary stuff," said Cruz, who was hurt in the Giants' victory in Philadelphia 10 days ago. "The training staff wanted me to take this one off and take another day to heal and get better and just feel better about myself. That's all it was."
Regarding Cruz, Coughlin said, "I think he probably could practice if we really needed him to practice today, but we're going to err on the side of precaution here in hopes that he will be prepared to go tomorrow."
Cruz said he will be "good to go" on Sunday.
Thomas gets a day of each week to rest his surgically-repaired knee and will practice tomorrow.
Running back Brandon Jacobs (hamstring), defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (knee) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring) were limited. Tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) practiced fully.
- The Giants will host their 17th annual food drive at MetLife Stadium when they host the Raiders on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to bring canned or non-perishable foods and deposit them at any of the Shop & Shop trucks parked at each stadium entrance.
All food collected during the drive will be donated to the Community FoodBank of New Jersey – a member of Feeding America – for distribution to local partner agencies in the area.
Since 1997, the Giants have hosted an annual food drive and helped feed thousands of their neighbors during the holiday season. Thanks to the generosity of our fans, nearly 5,000 pounds of canned or non-perishable foods is collected each year. Once again, we ask our friends and fans to Join the Team and assist our neighbors in need.
Click Here for photos from Giants practice >>