The neck disc that has sidelined DE Mathias Kiwanuka the past five games is actually a herniated disc.
While that is worse than a bulging disc, as it was once thought to be, Kiwanuka said Thursday that he expects to play again this season.
Kiwanuka was in Los Angeles this week for another opinion from spinal specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.
"The difference between a bulge and a herniation is slight, but being that it is a herniation it is something that's a little more severe," Kiwanuka said. "There are other things that go along with it, as far as how my body's made up that make it different than other people's would be. It's just a matter of waiting. They're very optimistic it'll heal on its own but it's just going to take time."
Kiwanuka said doctors will check it in another couple of weeks to see if the disc has subsided. But a timetable for his return remains as uncertain as ever, despite his optimism that he'll play again this year.
Asked if he sees himself playing again this season, he replied, "Absolutely. Absolutely. That might be a stretch, but I think it's very possible. As long as I'm medically cleared to play, that's what I'll do."
Meanwhile, the coaching staff has decided to wait out a decision on replacing him on the roster until the last possible moment.
"I think it is -- whatever your choice of words there was – it is difficult for everyone, the player as well, because the player naturally starts to feel better," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He feels better, the symptoms aren't there – why can't I go? What's the issue here?
"So everyone looks and says that perhaps he can – not just Mathias, but any player under those circumstances – maybe he can practice, maybe he can play. The frustration is that it's not something that you see with the naked eye."
Meanwhile, Keith Bulluck (toe) returned to practice and said he'd play against the Cowboys Monday. And G Kevin Boothe, on the physically unable to perform list since training camp with a torn pectoral muscle, practiced for the first time. The Giants now have three weeks to either activate him or replace him on the roster.