By Paul Dottino
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Backup offensive lineman Mitch Petrus was talking to himself.

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Actually, he was standing along the goal line trying to convince himself that he would be capable of running the next round of gassers as the Giants ran through their conditioning drills while opening training camp Thursday.

Petrus huffed and puffed and lagged behind the line on almost every sprint, but somehow made it to the finish.

WR Hakeem Nicks (foot), DT Chris Canty (knee), LB Clint Sintim (knee) and TE Travis Beckum (knee) did not participate and coach Tom Coughlin said they were placed on the PUP list for training camp. Couglhin said Nicks has done some work on the eliptical machine but was not cleared to run, adding that Canty is still ways away.

Coughlin, by the way, got the field at 3:51, which was six minutes AFTER the first arrivals – LS Zak DeOssie and PK Lawrence Tynes. The drills began at 4:02 p.m.

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TOM’S THEME: Coughlin’s approaching this the only way he can – by telling his players that the Super Bowl season is over and they were a much better team over the final six games of their season than they had been prior to their hot streak. He said he’s seeking improvement but, in reality, he really needs more consistency – to bottle those final six games and get that type of performance out of his guys for a full campaign.

TALKING BIG: L Mathias Kiwanuka, WR Victor Cruz, DE Justin Tuck and QB ELi Manning spoke convincingly that they believe the players understood Coughlin’s message and they are prepared to defend their Super Bowl title. Tuck also said he had no problem with Eagles QB Michael Vick proclaiming that Philadelphia is in position to start a dynasty, insisting that every player should think that about their team.

TV TIME: Manning admitted that he feels like a kid going to summer camp when the team trains in Albany and said he expects to have a lot of fun with his teammates as they watch the London Olympics and cheer for the U.S. team.

SAY WHAT: Martellus Bennett is very expressive and very colorful. He went as far as expressing his strong dislike for the Cowboys, who let him go as a free agent during the off-season. But then he caught himself and said that he dislikes every team and everybody who is not on his team. Not a bad save, but he’s going to be more careful of how he phrases things or he’s apt to find himself in Coughlin’s office very soon.

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