Chris Snee returned to practice today, returned to the familiar rhythms of his professional life, returned to game preparation and blocking techniques and to the comaraderie of his teammates.
Snee's homecoming ended a two-week period that he described as "bizarre," "miserable" and "horrible." The Giants' three-time Pro Bowl right guard suffered a concussion against Seattle on Oct. 9, an injury that forced him to miss the Giants' victory over Buffalo a week later, the first game he sat out since his rookie season in 2004. Snee last week passed all of the required medical tests and will be back in the lineup when the 4-2 Giants return to action following their bye Sunday at home against the Miami Dolphins.
"Everything is fine," Snee said. "I passed all my tests last week and have been headache-free for over a week."
While he was thrilled to be back on the field, Snee's forced absence was still fresh in his mind.
"I don't want to do it again," Snee said. "It's such an alone feeling. I've been on this team for eight years and played in however many games (112, including 101 in a row prior to the injury); you miss one game and you feel like the world is passing you by. You feel forgotten and you feel like you're letting your team down. It's a horrible feeling.
"I was (proud of the streak). A couple of weeks ago, prior to the Buffalo game, when I was being told that I was out, I was still keeping a small hope that I could come in and pass that test and wake up one day and just feel better. It didn't happen, so now I have to start over. But I don't know if I'm getting that high again."
Like all the Giants, Snee spends the night before a game in the team hotel. He normally arrives at MetLife Stadium at least three hours before kickoff. The day of the Bills game he followed a routine, but it was nothing close to normal.
"The whole day was bizarre, from Saturday night, sleeping in my own bed to Sunday morning, watching Sunday Countdown," Snee said. "I was starting to get on edge a little bit and felt like I should go play, but that was something that wasn't going to happen. The drive in – I got here at 12 o'clock and when I walked in, everybody was out there warming up. It was a bizarre day and something I don't like to do."
During the first half of the game, Snee stood on the sideline with the hood of his sweatshirt covering his head. But he retreated from view for the second two quarters to watch the game with his family.
"The noise and the light were bothering me," said Snee, who is Tom Coughlin's son-in-law. "They told me to stay home, but I probably would have gone more crazy just being at home watching it. So I came to be around the guys and the game atmosphere, but I couldn't do it for the whole game. I was there early, but the noise was starting to get to me a little bit. I went up to my mother-in-law's suite and sat up there, which was better for the sound. But it's just miserable watching. It's a helpless feeling and it's something I hadn't experienced. I was in the hospital for most of the games I missed my rookie year (with an inflamed gland). It wasn't like I was even able to be here."
Snee wasn't the only player who thought game day had a bizarre twist. The meeting with the Bills was the 101st regular season or postseason game Kareem McKenzie had started for the Giants at right tackle. But it was the first in which Snee wasn't lined up next to him.
"It wasn't weird – it was noticeable," McKenzie said. "Some of the communication he and I have, the unspoken communication, wasn't the same. It was different.
"It's tough, because you never get used to being on the sideline watching. You're playing for so long and it definitely throws you out of your rhythm. Those collective competitive juices are still flowing that you have on game day, but you can do nothing about them."
Not if you're sidelined with a concussion, a serious injury that requires a player to stay out of action until he passes a baseline test. Snee said this was the first concussion of his football life. He was hit in the first quarter of the Seattle game, but felt well enough to remain in the game. But when he absorbed another blow in the fourth quarter, he knew something was wrong.
Snee grabbed referee Ed Hochuli, "because otherwise I was going down." He walked off the field and did not return to the game.
"It is (scary)," Snee said. "I've been fortunate enough to not have one before. I tried to stay out there with my team. I had a headache, that's all. I've had headaches before. Later on when the dizziness and everything else hit me, I could tell lit was more serious.
"It was scary to think you're going to pass out on the field, the headaches and the week of fog that I was in was not fun. But I got cleared and I feel good."
Snee spent that night at the hospital and most of the following week resting in bed.
"The thing is, you can't really sleep," Snee said. "I was just kind of lying in bed. It was a miserable week."
When the Giants were together last Tuesday for their only bye-week practice, Snee was in Manhattan undergoing tests. He was cleared to return to action, though he had to wait until the team reconvened today to take his stance.
Snee said he has absolutely no trepidation about playing against the Dolphins.
"The bye week kind of helped with that," Snee said. "If I had to go back out last week and play, I probably would have been a little worried about it. But I had an extra week to heal. I'll have no contact really until Sunday, so I feel confident.
"I hope this is the only time I have to deal with it, because they say every time (you get a concussion) it gets worse. If I had to go back last week, I would have been a little worried about it, but now I'm not."
*Wide receiver Ramses Barden, who is on the physically unable to perform list, participated in his first team practice today, making him happier than a kid with a bagful of candy on Halloween. How do we know this? Barden said so.
"People always say (they feel like) a kid in a candy store," Barden said. "I felt like I was in a bank vault without security cameras. This morning in meetings I was jittery and jumping around. Everybody said, 'Relax.' They were calling me out – 'fresh legs' – and all the little jokes you hear when you come back. But I'm just happy to be back with the guys and feel like I'm part of the team again."
Asked how he felt physically, Barden said, "I think it went well. My body feels good. I had good energy and more than anything, it was just fun. It was really fun."
Coughlin said, "We listed him as limited but he took probably one-third of the snaps."
The Giants have up to 21 days before a deciding whether to activate Barden, terminate him or keep him on the reserve/PUP list. Asked if Barden will be active for the Dolphins game, Coughlin said, "We will see."
Barden, who fractured his ankle last Nov. 14 vs. Dallas, believes he will suit up against Miami.
"In my mind, yes, absolutely," Barden said. "I am preparing myself mentally and physically not only as if I am going to play but I am going to contribute. That is how I am trying to go into everything. The worst thing you can do is be unprepared and be given a full load of responsibility that you are not ready for. I am preparing myself for the full load of responsibilities."
*Cornerback Prince Amukamara, the Giants' first-round draft choice, did "a little bit" in practice, according to Coughlin.
Amukamara broke his foot on Aug. 6 and hasn't played this season.
"We will have to bring him along slowly," Coughlin said.
Like Barden, Amukamara wants to face the Dolphins.
"I would like to play Sunday, but it's up to the coaches and training staff," Amukamara said. "I think probably by Thursday or Friday (I'll know). I think the coaches will start giving me the idea that I may be able to suit up and play."
*Defensive end Justin Tuck (neck/groin) and running back Brandon Jacobs (knee) returned to practice.
Coughlin was asked if Tuck seemed "significantly better."
"It seemed like it," Coughlin said. "We will see how they are tomorrow with the guys who are coming back. We tried to stay away from getting anybody in a position where they would be sore. We will have to see."
Regarding Jacobs, Coughlin said, "As of this morning, he was doing pretty well."
*Tuck and Jacobs joined Snee on the inactive list for the Buffalo game. All three could play vs. Miami.
"It is something that we have been looking for," Coughlin said. "I don't know if uplifting would be the word. It is a good sign to have guys out there. Hopefully we will have the consistency of all these guys practicing and it will give us extra gas in our tank."
*Offensive lineman Adam Koets, who, like Barden, has been on the reserve/PUP list all season, is not ready to return to practice.
"His back is an issue, so he is not ready to start," Coughlin said. "It has been a process that has gone on for quite some time now. It just hasn't cleared up in about five weeks. You can't put a number on it because I am not sure when it showed up. It has been a lengthy thing for him."
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