ORADELL, N.J. (AP) — Eli Manning and the New York Giants capped a week of workouts aimed at knocking off rust from the lockout, introducing rookies to plays, and getting players to bond with a new collective bargaining agreement seemingly nowhere in sight.
Pro Bowl linemen Shaun O’Hara and Chris Snee joined Manning and 24 other players at the final practice at Bergen Catholic High School.
“It’s just great to get football back on the brain,” O’Hara said after the 90-minute workout. “We have a very veteran group, so we were able to come in and the veterans were able to teach the younger guys, which was invaluable. I think it’s great for us to refresh our offense. We had a couple of defensive guys come out, too, which was great. I know it was a good week of work.”
The workouts started under a short-lived veil of secrecy on Monday and drew as many as 39 players Tuesday. Players did not talk to the media until Friday.
No new workouts are planned. O’Hara, the team’s player representative, told the players to be ready to report to training camp at the University at Albany in late July.
However, he is unaware whether the owners and players are any closer to a new CBA.
“As players, we’re really in limbo,” O’Hara said. “It’s really toughest on us because we’re going to be the ones who have to go out there and show up when this deal gets done. I think for us our mentality is we have to get ready for training camp.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA chief DeMaurice Smith, along with several owners and players, met in New York earlier this week to discuss the labor dispute. O’Hara could not provide insight into what was said. He has told players to remain optimistic, noting that at least the two sides are talking.
O’Hara is surprised there hasn’t been more progress, but he noted this is a business and that’s “never pretty for the players or the fans. This is the ultimate definition of that.”
Snee said he used to follow lockout news daily.
“At this point, I shut it out,” he said. “Now I just wait for Shaun to email me or wait for a call from the coaches to say: ‘Get your butt to work.'”
The last time the Giants worked out was about a month ago, when Manning held a passing camp at Hoboken High School, drawing about 10 players a day.
O’Hara felt this week’s workouts were successful because no one got hurt, which was a talking point when the week began.
Friday’s workout, attended primarily by offensive players, started with warmups and finished with some sprints. The linemen worked as a group, running a few plays and working on combination blocks. Manning and backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw passes to the receivers, tight end and running backs.
Manning has not talked to the media the past two months.
“It’s still football, the only difference is I have O’Hara yelling at me instead of coach (Pat) Flaherty,” Snee said.
The only defensive players were cornerback Bruce Johnson, linebackers Jonathan Goff and Greg Jones, and lineman Dwayne Hendricks. Linebacker-long snapper Zak DeOssie also was there.
Receiver Domenik Hixon, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, said the hardest part about the lockout is not having access to equipment usually available at the team headquarters, such as the cold tub. He also doesn’t have access to team trainers and physical therapists.
He said his injury is healed and he is ready for the season.
“It’s tough because I was looking forward to the OTAs and the one on ones and getting the reps that I missed,” Hixon said. “Not being there, you have to have your friends play (defensive back).”
O’Hara said some players were unable to make the workouts because of prior commitments and others refused because they were not under contract.
“I don’t blame them,” he said. “That’s a scary situation. You are talking about a career. I would hate somebody to risk a week’s worth of practice for a career. That’s not worth it in my eyes.”
O’Hara ran the offensive line drills, and he quipped that coach Tom Coughlin would have been upset that he didn’t start the workouts five minutes early, one of the quirks of the veteran coach. He also joked that Coughlin would have been happy Manning did not throw any interceptions.
Of course, there were no defenders guarding the receivers.
“It’s exhausting coaching these professional athletes,” O’Hara said. “They are very spoiled. It wears you down, and the heat doesn’t help either.”
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.