EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Robert Ayers is happy to be back in New Jersey, but it would be understandable if he was reluctant to step back into MetLife Stadium.
"My memory in that stadium doesn't really affect how I feel about this season," Ayers said today. "That was last season and this is a whole different team. That's a motivation factor for me to get back to the Super Bowl, but it doesn't really matter what stadium or bad taste. I want to get out there, I want to play, win, and be a great teammate. I want to get back to that situation. The Super Bowl is in Arizona this year and that's all we're thinking about. Before anything else, I want to win."
Ayers is one of four current Giants who played in the Super Bowl here less than six months ago. He is joined by two former Broncos teammates (cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and wide receiver/return specialist Trindon Holliday) and cornerback Walter Thurmond III, whose memory of the game is much more pleasant since he played for Seattle.
Ayers can't escape Thurmond, who sits in front of him in the defensive meetings.
"I mess with him a lot when they get to talking about Seattle winning the Super Bowl," Ayers said.
But Ayers spends little time reflecting on a game played last Feb. 2.
"We're worried about this year," he said. "I'm not a Bronco. The Broncos can talk about revenge and redemption. If I was a Bronco, I would say, yeah. But I'm not a Bronco anymore. I'm a New York Giant. We're worried about redeeming what was last year. We were 7-9 last year and I'm taking it as if I was 7-9 last year. I'm carrying the burden that they had last year and we're going to move forward. I have their motivation to get back to the playoffs and get things back to where they used to be and try to win it all."
- Second-year offensive tackle Justin Pugh said the Giants linemen are cognizant of maintaining the franchise's traditionally strong play up front in the wake of Chris Snee's retirement last week.
"We definitely have to step up," Pugh said. "I think just from the way we played last year, it is obvious that we have to step up and play well, protect the quarterback. Obviously, there's that tradition that's been there with those guys and them not being here. I think me, (Will) Beatty, (James) Brewer, (Brandon) Mosley, having had the chance to be there with those guys and learn from them, we have to carry on that tradition. That's something that we've been doing in the offensive line room. At the same time those guys were five totally different people. We have to find our identity and how we're going to be able to go out there and attack the defense and execute and win because, at the end of the day, it's about getting that W. We're not going to be the same offensive line, we're going to be different."
- Odell Beckham Jr. did a little bit more today, catching simulated passes and punts from a JUGGS machine. But he didn't test the strained hamstring that has kept him out of three practices.
Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if it is "disappointing" the team's first-round draft choice remains unable to practice.
"It's more than that," Coughlin said. "You're trying to put a team together. We saw too much of that in the spring. It'd be nice to get him back practicing. He actually looks pretty good moving around, catching the ball, not favoring anything. I'm just hoping it's a real short amount of time (until he returns).
"(The team's medical staff is) not going to let him go if he's in danger of hurting himself. That's all there is to it. I can stand there and fight all I want, but it's not going to happen. When they feel he can go and not risk any recurring injury, they'll let him go."
- Rookie tight end Xavier Grimble sat out practice with what Coughlin called a "minor hamstring strain."
- Coughlin has been impressed with left tackle Will Beatty, who shows no ill effects from the fractured tibia he suffered last Dec. 29 vs. Washington.
"As I've been saying all along, he's been doing more work than he actually was supposed to do from the day he got here," Coughlin said. "As far as I know, there are no issues. All he's done is keep working and keep working."