Now that the CBA is officially signed, sealed and delivered, any able or non-contract-challenged body that means you, Osi Umenyiora) was eligible to practice Thursday night at the Timex Performance Center.
And that meant that Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were, for the first time this year, reunited in the Giants' backfield.
Many smiles all around, except when thoughts went to Umenyiora. In his latest attempt to force GM Jerry Reese's hand to either give him a new contract or trade him, Umenyiora Thursday night claimed his knee is injured and could require surgery for a torn meniscus. Of course, nobody on the Giants had heard of this medical condition, especially since Umenyiora played all 16 games the last two years and had surgery on his hip, and not his knee, in the offseason.
Adding a larger dash of skepticism to the situation, a Giants spokesman reported that "he said he has a sore knee."
The Umenyiora situation has all the makings of a catastrophe.
Tom Coughlin's renewed, yearly immediate dilemma of how to split up the carries between Bradshaw and Jacobs pales in comparison, but it's still important. For now, though, Bradshaw was all for sharing.
"That’s fine," Bradshaw said when posed with the concept that Jacobs could take on a featured role over him. "Like I say, he’s a big brother to me. I’ll share whatever I have with him. It keeps us healthy and makes the team better."
You see, there's still a small issue of how the cleanout surgery on Bradshaw's left ankle will affect his play, especially early on.
"I feel tremendous," Bradshaw said. "It was nothing really wrong with my ankle, just a lot of junk in it. Like I said, I feel great. My ankles feel tremendous."
Of course, that might have become a factor in the free agent market drying up in front of Bradshaw's eyes. Miami (Reggie Bush) and Washington (Tim Hightower) both traded for running backs, while another intended target, Cincinnati, re-signed Cedric Benson despite lingering legal issues.
So, really, Bradshaw had nowhere to go but back to the Giants for a bargain four-year, $18 million deal with $9 million guaranteed. But he said Jacobs also lended a pushing hand, not only with daily phone calls asking him to return, but by putting his money where his mouth was and taking a slight paycut in a contract restructuring. Truth be told, Jacobs can get that money back if he hits incentives, but the gesture was well-taken by his backfield partner.
While Bradshaw and Jacobs prepared to join the training camp fun, Coughlin had plans for the rest of the newly-signed, which now includes the previously cut DT Rocky Bernard and OL Stacy Andrews, brother of much-used 2010 reserve Shawn Andrews.
He wasn't going to rush things, though. Thursday night's practice was scheduled to be in shells following Wednesday night's full-padded practice. During that practice, Coughlin had to reprimand a player for being too aggressive, and OL Jim Cordle suffered a scary, though in the end, harmless moment when he collided with a teammate during a kickoff drill.
"I’m very excited. I’ve been looking forward to this as I’m sure every coach in the league has," Coughlin said. "What we’ll do this afternoon is, I want to move them all forward at the same time and these people would not be ready to go in pads so we’ll put our guys in shells for a couple days and all of our players will participate in practice. They all will get reps and the guys who are stepping out there for the first time this fall will be able to advance accordingly. So we’re going to do that and then come back together and put the pads back on in a couple of practices ready to go."
The Giants also received some good news when first-round cornerback Prince Amukamara agreed to a four-year, $8.18 million deal, 91 percent of which is guaranteed. He should be on the practice field Friday.