ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — It was hard to identify defensive tackle Marvin Austin when the Giants reported to training camp at the University at Albany.

The dreadlocks were gone, replaced by a much neater — and shorter — haircut.

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The style is significant because this is a new start for Austin. And he needs it. He missed his final season at North Carolina after being suspended. Then, he was dismissed from the team. After being drafted in the second round by the Giants (No. 3 in the AP Pro32) in April 2011, he tore a pectoral muscle in a preseason game against Chicago and missed the season.

Anything else?

“I am having so much fun out there just learning the game at the NFL level and getting into it,” Austin said Tuesday before lunch at the University at Albany. “Being part of the team is the biggest thing, and that’s something people don’t understand.”

Austin has looked good in training camp but he knows he has to produce, especially with defensive tackle Chris Canty sidelined following knee surgery. 

“A lot of people want to see what I can do on the field and I have to go out there and prove I can play at this level,” said Austin, who did most of his rehabilitation at the team’s headquarters in New Jersey.

Austin’s first game will be against Jacksonville on Friday night, which brings us back to the hair.

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“This is a new beginning for me,” he said. “I want to help the organization the best I can, and I was getting tired of the old hairdo .It was a lot of things that came with the old hair and this is a new lease on life.”


Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks has started running pass patterns, but coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t expect him to practice for at least another week. Nicks broke his foot during organized team activities this spring and has been placed on the physically unable to perform list. He had been running straight ahead for a while and he ran in circles on Monday to see how his foot felt.

The four-year veteran isn’t worried about whether he plays in the preseason. He hopes to make the season opener against Dallas Sept. 5.

“My main concern is making sure that when I do step on the field that I’m healthy, and I’m 100 percent,” he said. “That’s our whole focus right now — need to make sure we’re taking the right steps to make it that way.”

Giants fans, are you excited for Austin’s first healthy season? Sound off in the comments below…

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