EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** Early in Tom Coughlin's news conference today, a reporter mentioned that the Giants didn't have many running backs at practice.
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Brandon Jacobs and Da'Rel Scott each missed practice because of sore hamstrings, and David Wilson was in Los Angeles, getting a second opinion on his injured neck. That left Cox, the rookie seventh-round draft choice from UMass, as the only running back on the roster available to practice when the Giants returned to the field after a two-day break.
They don't play again until next Monday at home against Minnesota.
"It was a little strange being the only one out there and being able to practice and everything," Cox said. "It went good, though."
Cox has played in four of the Giants' six games, playing exclusively on special teams, mostly in coverage. He has two kickoff returns. Coughlin hinted Cox is not ready to assume a big load at running back.
"He's young," Coughlin said. "It's sophisticated and complex, the things that are thrown at him, particularly in the protection area, so you've got to be careful.
"He obviously has a lot going, but there are some things that I think right now we feel good about. There are other things not so (good), and we're working on the not so."
Although the position is called running back, an equally important part of the job is pass protection, or more accurately, Eli Manning protection. It took time for Wilson to earn the coaches' trust and Cox must do the same.
"I think it's just a lot to learn," Cox said. "You have to be able to read the defensive fronts, the secondary, just everything kind of like a quarterback does. That's the biggest difference."
Although he acknowledges he has room for improvement, Cox would welcome a larger role, or any role, on offense.
"I feel like I'm ready to go," Cox said, "but obviously just working on everything, pass protection, just watching more film and the whole offense and everything."
QUICK HITS >>
- Coughlin said he thinks Jacobs will be ready to go when the Giants next practice on Thursday.
Jacobs said the injury is not serious. He rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries last Thursday in Chicago.
"Basically, I've been off for a while and I felt great, no question about it," said Jacobs, who had just five rushing attempts last season for San Francisco. He was signed by the Giants on Sept. 10. "I feel really good now, to be honest with you. Just doing what I have to do to take care of it. Hamstrings can be tricky, especially when you feel like they are healed and ready to go. I'm just taking it very precautionary. I don't think it's going to be an issue."
- The players were unanimous in their belief that a weekend off was good for the team's state of mind.
"I think it served us well just to go home and get away from the game," safety Antrel Rolle said. "We were able to do that. Get away from the game, we were able to do that. And also focus on ways that we can get better. Everyone has an insider's input as to ways that we can get better and I think it served us well."
"It was nice to relax and get to spend a little time with the family," defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins said. "Personally, I always feel like it (helps to get away). You get away for a little bit, get another little break here. It's almost like a little bye week, you're a little more anxious to get back to it."
Coughlin said the players "came back and they jumped right into the meeting room. They jumped into the weight room. This has been a pretty good practice today, so I think it was a nice break for them, which is the advantage of a Thursday night game, as you know."
- Center David Baas participated in individual drills. He has missed the last three games with a neck injury. Baas hopes to play against the Vikings, but Coughlin said he hasn't been cleared to practice fully. "Not quite, but close," Coughlin said.
"It was good to get back out there," Baas said. "I just did some limited stuff today, just did some individual. I'll be ready to go on Thursday. I'll talk to the doctors and the coaches and see how much I'm doing but I'll be ready to go Thursday. I just want to help my team win, so I can't wait to get back out there."
Baas said it's been difficult to be out of uniform when the Giants are losing.
"You want to be out there to help your team any way that you can," Baas said. "Obviously, you want to be out there as soon as you can, but you want to do things the right way. That's all you can do. That's why I'm excited. I was excited today, even if it was individual. I'm excited to be out there and provide anything that I can for us to get this thing turned around."
- Tight end Adrien Robinson returned to practice for the first time since training camp. He has been sidelined with a foot injury.
- The line of the day came from Coughlin when he was asked if he was able to take a weekend break. "I took a long walk on Saturday," he said. "I thought the leaves were nice. Someone told me they change this time of year."