EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An unapologetic Hakeem Nicks showed up for the Giants’ mandatory minicamp and refused to disclose why he skipped all nine of the team’s recent “voluntary” workouts.
“I’m not here to talk about that,” said Nicks, who was surrounded by reporters at his locker on Tuesday. “I’m here to talk about me being here right now, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m here. I’m happy to be back around my teammates.”
Coach Tom Coughlin was upset by Nicks’ absence because the fifth-year wide receiver never informed him that he would be missing the non-contact practices, known as organized team activities.
Nicks said he spoke with general manager Jerry Reese about his absence, but would not disclose what was said.
“I could have done a better job at reaching out, but I did,” Nicks said. “We finally got to talk. We got things straightened out on that end. Coach Coughlin, that’s my guy. That relationship can’t go sour. I felt where he was coming from. I should have done a better job at reaching out to him, but I’m here now and they’re excited to see me.”
Coughlin also refused to say what was said between the two. However, he was happy Nicks was back although he didn’t do much in the afternoon practice.
“He’s definitely not in tune with where are,” Coughlin said of Nicks. “We’ve had nine OTAs and we’ve thrown at lot at them. If he’s around he’ll pick it up quickly.”
Nicks, who is returning from offseason knee surgery, insisted that he worked out in North Carolina and that he really didn’t miss much, since he is very familiar with the offense after four seasons.
Most of the speculation about Nicks’ absence has focused on his contract and injuries.
The 25-year-old Nicks is entering the final year of his contract, which will pay him $3.7 million in 2013. There is no doubt he would like a new deal and money equal to what the Giants will probably give Victor Cruz, who is a restricted free agent and not at the minicamp.
Cruz is looking for $10 million annually. The Giants’ offer is in the $7.5 million range.
Nicks also has a bitter memory of breaking his right foot in an OTA last year. That slowed him in the preseason, and then, he hurt his left knee in the second week of the regular season.
A 1,000-yard receiver in 2010 and 2011, Nicks had 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Nicks said his knee felt fine on Tuesday. The former first-round pick wasn’t sure how much the team would let him do in practice.
“I never want to be detrimental in any kind of way to this organization because they’ve been nothing but good to me,” Nicks said. “The guys told me they don’t feel like it was too much of a distraction. I took care of what I need to take care of and I’m here now and that’s all that matters.”
Teammates said it was just good to see Nicks on the field.
“Obviously, we need him during the preseason and the season for the games,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “I do think that being here in the spring is important. But, obviously, I don’t want the fans thinking we’re in trouble because some guys missed some OTAs. They’re optional. When it’s mandatory, the guys are here and we’re all working hard to get better, get sharp.”
Coughlin said he would like Nicks and Manning to spend some time working out this summer and get on the same page.
Guard Kevin Boothe said Nicks walked into the Giants headquarters with his usual smile.
“Hakeem is not the type of person who is going to sit on a couch and do nothing,” Boothe said. “I am sure he was working hard where ever he was. I am sure the team would have liked him here, but he’s a vet. He knows how to handle himself and he’ll be ready to go.”
Safety Antrel Rolle downplayed the absence.
“I’m just glad he is here now,” he said.
Had Nicks missed the entire mandatory minicamp, the Giants could have fined him $66,000.
Nicks said he has spoken with Cruz, who has led the Giants in receiving each of the past two seasons. He would not comment on Cruz’s contract negotiations.
“That’s his situation,” Nicks said. “I talked to Cruz. He’s doing good. His mind is in the right spot. He understands the business side of it. He understands the game as well, but he still loves this team and he still wants to be here.”
Cruz has refused to discuss his contract talks with the media in recent months.
“This is something that at least he could have benefited from, if nothing else,” Coughlin said of Cruz.
The coach sounded eager for an end to the Cruz saga.
“I’ve been optimistic since Day 1, but it hasn’t gotten me anywhere, has it?” he said. “I’ll just continue to be that way. But the clock’s running. The calendar dates are going by, fellas.”
NOTES: Starting center David Baas (shoulder) , guard Chris Snee (hip) tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) and cornerback-safety Terrell Thomas (knee) are performing rehabilitation work during the minicamp. … Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has returned from California, where he had surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. … Rookie DE Damontre Moore batted down a pass by Ryan Nassib in an 11-on-11 drill. Moore was the Giants’ third-round pick; Nassib, the fourth.
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