EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Peyton Hillis injured his ankle in practice yesterday, the Giants' medical staff said he'd have to go inside for X-rays.
Hillis hopes that is an indication his absence from the Giants' backfield will be a short one. Coach Tom Coughlin called the injury "an ankle/foot kind of thing." Moments later, Coughlin said, "It's a sprain, as far as I'm concerned. There is some language behind it. I think it's a sprain. The degree of which it takes to get him back out there, there's some speculation on that. I hope it's as fast as possible, but I don't know if that's the case. … (It) looks like it will be a little while."
That's a source of frustration to Hillis, the seven-year veteran who joined the Giants last Oct. 16. He entered camp thinking he would have to battle for a roster spot among a crowded field of talented backs. But David Wilson's forced retirement moved him up on the depth chart and he took another step forward with a strong performance (seven carries for 36 yards) Sunday night in the victory over Buffalo in the preseason opener.
"I feel like I did a good job," Hillis said. "It was tough getting into the pile in the second quarter, when you're stiff, but I felt after a couple series that I was doing okay. Plus, this year I feel like I'm in a lot better shape than I had been in the past, so it's been looking up for me so far."
Now Hillis is in a holding pattern.
"The way they talk, if I rest it and get treatment on it, hopefully I'll be back as soon as possible," Hillis said. "They haven't let me know when, but I'm looking to be back pretty early."
Had he been forced off the field while competing for a job earlier in his career, Hillis might have gone into panic mode. But as a veteran, he understands injuries come with the territory.
"You know how this league works," Hillis said. "You get hesitant when you're a rookie, because you don't know what they think about you, if you're injury-prone or so forth. With anything in life, the more experience you have, the better. It's a 'just deal with it' kind of deal. Nobody means for these things to happen. It's not like I'm trying to sit out of practice. You get hurt and it happens. What can you do about it but just try to get it better and get back on the field?"
Coughlin was asked again if the Giants have enough running backs without Wilson and, now, with Hillis idle.
"Let's hope we don't lose another one today, because that's the way this game goes," Coughlin said. "If you have one down at one position, that position gets it again. Let's hope we can practice today and not have that issue. The fullbacks can play running back, too."
The Giants are not currently looking to add another running back, but Coughlin did say, "if this thing goes on and on with Hillis, then we would have to do something." * Coughlin said first-round draft choice Odell Beckham Jr., who has missed most of training camp with a strained hamstring, is improving.
"It sounds like he's getting close," Coughlin said. "They have him doing a lot of things, they're going to push him a little bit more today and then they're going to get a quarterback to throw to him and see how that goes, too. So he's getting closer. I wish (wide receiver/return specialist) Trindon Holliday were in the same boat. It doesn't seem like he's quite as far along."
- Left guard Geoff Schwartz left practice yesterday with a sore knee and will not work today.
- Cornerback Trumaine McBride didn't play vs. Buffalo and is scheduled to sit out the preseason home opener Saturday vs. Pittsburgh (because the medical staff is exercising caution with players who had offseason surgery). But he continues to stand out at practice and had another interception yesterday.
"He intercepts a ball and runs 80 yards every day and they tell me he can't play," Coughlin said. "I'm looking at them like, 'Who has the two heads right here?' Every day he takes one and goes 80. He looks pretty good to me."
McBride said, "I feel pretty good. Right now, it's just following the doctor's plan. I have another game right now, so I hope that I will be able to go in about two weeks."
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn said the kicking competition is close between 11-year veteran Josh Brown and first-year pro Brandon McManus.
"They're both competing and have really strong legs," Quinn said. "They both have pretty good accuracy at this point. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out."
Quinn was asked whether he places a greater value on experience or leg strength.
"You value a kicker who can make the kicks," he said. "You try to put the young kicker in some situations and try to test him. The thing about Josh is that he does have a strong leg. A lot of times, you have an old kicker and a young kicker and the young kicker has such a strong leg. But Brandon will really have to beat him out in all areas to win the job and he knows that."
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