PDA

View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2011 - 4: 40 P.M.



RoanokeFan
12-29-2011, 09:59 AM
<u><font color="#ff0000" size="4"><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">H</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">R</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E </font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">N</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">O</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">W</font><font face="Verdana" size="6"> T</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">H</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E </font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">N</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">E</font><font color="#0000FF" face="Verdana" size="6">W</font><font face="Verdana" size="6">S</font>

</font></u><u><font color="#ff0000" size="4">THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER</font><font color="#ff0000" size="4">. </font></u><font size="4">

</font><font size="4"><font size="6">THE PLAYOFFS HAVE BEGUN!

</font></font><font size="4"><u>NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font>

GIANTS' CHRIS CANTY HOPING FOR A DIFFERENT FATE THAN HIS LAST GAME WITH THE COWBOYS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_chris_canty_hoping_for.html)

Excerpt: "Chris Canty was telling Antrel Rolle he feels different this year. He’s
fresh, he’s healthy and he’s ready to play a lot more football.


That hasn’t always been the case for the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ defensive tackle, particularly in
his last game with the Dallas Cowboys, a 44-6 blowout loss to the Philadelphia
Eagles in a 2008 Week 17 matchup to determine the final wild-card team.</p>


It was supposed to be a close game, and it was — for one quarter. But Philly
scored 24 unanswered points to close the first half and added a defensive
touchdown to start the third quarter to quickly make it a blowout victory.</p>


The Eagles then beat the Minnesota Vikings and Giants before nearly knocking
off the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game.</p>


“We went into their place, they got on top of us early and the game just
snowballed out of control,” Canty said today. “You looked at the second half,
and guys were just pretty much thinking about their exit physicals, packing
their lockers up and shipping cars home. You could tell in the way guys were
playing they had kind of checked out — present company included.</p>


“The whole team, the mentality of the team would not allow us to be
successful in that type of environment, in that situation.”</p>


Now, Canty hopes the Giants can prevent the Cowboys from being successful in
a similar situation.</p>


The teams will meet Sunday night to determine this season’s NFC East champ.
It’s again expected to be a good game, though many of the banged-up Cowboys
surely recall how quickly things spiraled out of control three years ago on the
other end of the Turnpike.</p>


Even if they’re not willing to acknowledge it publicly.</p>


“It’s a big one. It’s huge,” was all linebacker Bradie James would say,
according to ESPNDallas.com, when pressed on the similarities between the games.
Wide receiver Miles Austin, who went to Garfield High and Monmouth University,
declined to answer such questions. Others spoke only in generalities.</p>


Canty, having experienced the downside, will remind his teammates of the
upside should they take an early lead in front of their fans." Read more...
</p>TONY ROMO WEARING PROTECTIVE WRAP OVER BRUISED THROWING HAND (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/tony_romo_wearing_protective_w.html)

"Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is practicing with more protection on his
bruised throwing hand.<div class="entry-content">


Romo came out of the locker room today wearing a protective wrap on his
swollen right hand. The wrap left his fingers and thumb free, and he made a few
soft tosses as practice began.</p>


<a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/tony_romo_throwing_taking_snap.html">Romo
wasn't wearing anything on his hand</a> when throwing Wednesday.</p>


Romo, who banged his hand on a defender's helmet Saturday against
Philadelphia, has said he expects to play Sunday night when the Cowboys take on
the Giants with the NFC East title on the line."</p>GIANTS' BRANDON JACOBS: "COWBOYS' FANS GET ON MY NERVES" (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_brandon_jacobs_cowboys.html)

"Brandon Jacobs isn't one to bite his tongue. That was evidenced by last
week's war of words between he and the Jets that <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/ny_giants_silence_ny_jets_29-1.html">culminated
in a post-game verbal altercation with Rex Ryan</a>.<div class="entry-content">


Today, Jacobs said talk is "100 percent appropriate for me all the time," but
surprisingly he didn't have much to say about the Cowboys. That is, the team
itself. The team's fans were a whole other matter.</p>


"You know what it is? You’ve got a lot of people on other teams hating the
Cowboys. It’s their fans," Jacobs asserted. "Some of their fans are loud,
obnoxious and just bad. Just everywhere you go you’ve got them Dallas fans,
running their mouth about Dallas. They keep going. It’s not really the team and
the star and all that. They’re just like any other team in the National Football
League if you ask me. But their fans are the ones that have me really just
feeling the way I feel."</p>


Plenty is made of the fans in Philadelphia, but Jacobs thinks Cowboys
supporters take the cake.</p>


"Yeah, they are," Jacobs said when asked if Cowboys fans were worse. "I’m not
talking about being actually at the game and doing the type of stuff they do in
Philly. I’m just talking about in every day life. Cowboys fans get on my
nerves."</p>


Sunday night's game will be at home at MetLife Stadium, but the Cowboys are
"America's Team" and Jacobs knows they will be a good number in the crowd for
the battle for NFC East supremacy.</p>


"Oh there’s going to be a lot of them in, no question about it," Jacobs said.
"There’s going to be a bunch of them here. They’re going to have a lot of
support here. We’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do. It’s
still our home field."
</p></div>GIANTS' HAKEEM NICKS EXPECTS TO PRACTICE ON FRIDAY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_hakeem_nicks_expects_to.html)

Excerpt: "Hakeem Nicks said he did some striding and backpedaling today to see if he’d
“notice” his injured hamstring.


So, did he?</p>


“Yeah, I can’t lie,” the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants)’ wide
receiver said today after sitting out practice but doing light work on the side.
“This ain’t something that’s just going to go away overnight. It’s still there.
But can I play with it?”</p>


Nicks never got around to finishing that response because a reporter nearly
got whacked in the head with a camera as the media made a mad dash to Osi
Umenyiora’s locker. But the answer was likely going to be “yes.”</p>


After all, Nicks believes he’ll practice on Friday.</p>


“Some 7-on-7 plays and what not. See how it feels,” he said. “I wouldn’t want
to just go out on Sunday and test it out. I want to know, at least from a
standpoint, where I’ll be (physically) so I can prepare myself mentally.” Read more...
</p>##
</div>
ELI MANNING, GIANTS FACE COWBOYS HOPING TO SHAKE OFF RECENT PASSING STRUGGLES (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/eli_manning_giants_passing_gam.html)

Excerpt: "For the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)’ offense, the first
half in <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/ny_giants_silence_ny_jets_29-1.html">Saturday’s
victory over the Jets</a> culminated with the biggest of big plays in a season
littered with them. Eli Manning’s connection with Victor Cruz for a
franchise-record 99-yard touchdown was the latest — and the longest — of the
offense’s NFL-leading 16 passing plays of 40-plus yards this season.


It was also one of the few signs of life the passing game has shown over the
past two weeks. </p>


Since overcoming a 12-point deficit with 5:41 remaining against the Dallas
Cowboys on Dec. 11, Manning has had his worst two-game stretch of the season —
managing a 45.5 passer rating in the loss to the Washington Redskins and a 61.5
rating against the Jets — after perhaps the best stretch of his career.</p>


Both teams were able to apply consistent pressure on Manning, sacking him
five times and hitting him a number of other snaps. The Cowboys’ defense is of
the same mold — aggressive and reliant on blitzes to apply pressure on the
quarterback — but after torching the unit less than a month ago, it may be the
best remedy for Manning and the Giants. </p>


And it will have to be if the Giants hope to not only win Sunday night and
advance to the postseason, but also to advance once there.</p>


“We have to have some big plays, we have to make some things happen in order
to change the momentum and keep the momentum in our favor throughout the course
of the game,” Cruz said. “So I do see us having a lot of big plays and doing a
lot of good things. We have to run the ball as well to keep the defense honest.
I see a good mix of run and pass and big plays in there.”</p>


Prior to the record-breaking play, the Giants offense was running on fumes on
Saturday. The unit possessed the ball over eight minutes fewer than the Jets and
recorded just four first downs to the Jets’ 13. The run game had mustered only
six yards on seven carries and outside of the touchdown to Cruz, Manning was
just 6-of-17 for 82 yards. </p>


The Giants went on to score 19 points in the second half of their 29-14
victory, but the surge was behind a rejuvenated running game, not the passing
game as has been the case much of the season. Instead, Manning continued to
struggle and finished just 9-of-27 for 225 yards with the touchdown to Cruz and
an interception." Read more...</p>

GIANTS' VICTOR CRUZ DOESN'T THINK HE'S A PRO BOWL SNUB (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_victor_cruz_doesnt_thin.html)</p>

"Victor Cruz's ascension to household name this season has been
well-documented. A year after spending his rookie season on the injured reserve
list, Cruz has emerged as one of the NFL's top big-play threats, consistently
coming up with impact plays on a weekly basis throughout the season.</p>


As a result, the numbers have accumulated. He broke the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/)' all-time single-season record for
receiving yards set by Amani Toomer in 2002 and is now second in the NFC in that
category with 1358, fourth in yards per catch, tied for seventh in touchdowns,
and arguably single-handedly kept the Giants' season alive with a
momentum-shifting, franchise-record 99-yard touchdown reception to give the
Giants a 10-7 lead it had no business having at halftime. </p>


He even has a signature touchdown dance to top it off.</p>


But in a conference loaded with top wide receivers, Cruz was left off the NFC
Pro Bowl roster when it was announced Tuesday night. Instead, the established
quartet of Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith and Greg Jennings were
selected. Cruz was named a second alternate and he's just happy to be in the
conversation.</p>

"Every guy that made it deserved it," Cruz said. "I don't feel snubbed. I'm
happy to be here, I'm happy to even be in the conversation with the Pro Bowl and
all that. It's just been an amazing ride this year."</p>


Being the second alternate, Cruz could very well be in Honolulu given the
history of players pulling out of the game due to injury and other reasons
(unless the Giants pull off a playoff run and are busy preparing for the Super
Bowl). </p>


Quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul were the two
Giants players voted in. Guard Chris Snee is also a second alternate. </p>


The annual all-star game will be played on Jan. 29, one week before the Super
Bowl."</p>GIANTS' OSI UMENYIORA BACK TO PRACTICE, BLAZING UP THE FIELD (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_osi_umenyiora_back_to_p.html)

"After playing more than 100 snaps against the Jets, Jason Pierre-Paul was
very happy to see Osi Umenyiora on the practice field yesterday, taking some
plays away from him.


“Yeah, I need that rest,” Pierre-Paul said.</p>


And the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) need Umenyiora, who
hadn’t played or practiced since suffering a high-ankle sprain against the New
Orleans Saints on Nov. 28. But given the enormity of Sunday’s game against the
Dallas Cowboys plus this being perhaps his last chance to make an impression
before another offseason push for a new contract, Umenyiora appears set to make
his return.</p>


In top form, apparently.</p>


“He’s faster than ever,” linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said when asked how
Umenyiora looked.</p>


Considering he has seven sacks in eight games this season, that’s promising
for the Giants.</p>


“It means everybody is going to be fresher when they’re out there on the
field,” Kiwanuka said. “He’s an All-Pro player, he’s a Pro Bowl guy. When you
look at what he presents to an offensive tackle, it’s a completely different
scenario than the other guys that we have in.</p>


“We have power guys, we have speed guys, we have our guys who can move around
throughout the line. I think just the matchup, the adjustment during the course
of the week, they’re going to have to prepare for another All-Pro player.”</p>


Umenyiora, who was listed as being limited yesterday, wasn’t in the locker
room during the portion open to the media and hasn’t spoken with reporters since
suffering the injury.</p>


“You can’t replace Osi Umenyiora,” Dave Tollefson said. “You can only keep
the seat warm for a guy like that. Jason has been everything and plus some. The
guy has played his butt off, he’s humble and he’s hungry, and now we get another
Pro Bowl guy back? Come on. Could you ask for anything better?”</p>


DT Chris Canty, a Cowboy from 2005 through ’08, realizes
what Sunday’s game will be about.
</p>“Obviously, a lot is made of the Cowboys-Washington Redskins rivalry, but
when I was a member of that football team we knew the big game of the year was
against the New York Giants,” he said.


This one has to be extra special for Canty, who had the big play last week
against the Jets in the form of a fourth-quarter safety. And after trying to
talk about the team as a whole, he was asked again about what it means for him
individually. He laughed and said three times, “There’s something there.”</p>


Kiwanuka said it was “rewarding” for the defense to bail out
the offense last week after the reverse scenario played out much of this
season.</p>


“If we play a complete game from beginning to end, we’ll pitch a shutout,”
Kiwanuka said when asked if the defensive hiccups from the last matchup with
Dallas have been fixed.</p>


RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) didn’t practice. As usual, he’ll
probably get only one day of work this week.</p>


Cowboys NT Jay Ratliff (ribs) and LBs DeMarcus Ware
(stinger) and Sean Lee (wrist/illness) didn’t practice yesterday but reports
from Dallas are they should be back to work today."</p>GIANTS' JAKE BALLARD NOT MAKING MUCH PROGRESS IN RECOVERY FROM KNEE INJURY (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants_jake_ballard_not_making.html)

"Jake Ballard was told the normal recovery for his knee injury is 2 to 4
weeks.


“I’m trying to squeeze it into one,” the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants)’ tight end said today.</p>


So far, the results haven’t been so hot.</p>


Ballard, who suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in the
loss to the Redskins, ran on the side today as the rest of the team practiced.
He anticipates doing the same on Thursday and isn’t sure if he’ll be able to
practice at all this week.</p>


Ballard said once again he wouldn’t be able to play if the game were today.
It’s not, so he has a few more days to get ready, but the fact he’s no closer to
answering yes on that question isn’t a promising sign.</p>


“It’s not like a hand or something where you can play though it,” he said.
“If I can’t run and get the job done, somebody else can do a better job. And I
feel like some guys when they get hurt they push through it but they end up
hurting their team because the healthy guy behind them might be able to run
better.”</p>


For the Giants, that guy would once again be Bear Pascoe, who did not have a
catch against the Jets.</p>


Ballard said the call on whether he plays won’t be his. Working his way
through a PCL issue could lead to further damage to his knee.</p>


“I wish it was my call: ‘Hey, I’m playing,’ and my knee would be fine,” he
said. “But that’s not the case.”</p>


Ballard had a PCL issue during his time at Ohio State. It wasn’t much of a
concern because he was mostly a blocking tight end.
</p>“I think I just wore a brace so all I could do was block. I didn’t run at
all,” he said. “So I didn’t really treat it as well as I should have.”


Asked if the Buckeyes’ medical staff would’ve allowed him to play through
this issue, he grinned and said, “They would probably overlook some stuff: ‘Oh
you can play.’”</p>


Ballard hopes the Giants’ staff will have a similar response by Sunday.</p>


“Yeah, right now it’s do or die,” he said. “It (stinks). It’s
frustrating.”</p>COWBOYS' TONY ROMO SAYS HE'LL PLAY VS. GIANTS, WON'T WEAR GLOVE ON INJURED HAND (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/cowboys_tony_romo_says_hell_pl.html)

Excerpt: "Tony Romo wore a glove on his injured hand in practice today. There's a
chance he'll do so again Thursday and he's worn it in games before, but he
doesn't expect to do so on Sunday.


And yes, the Dallas Cowboys' quarterback expects to play on Sunday against
the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants).</p>


"It's continuing to improve day by day," Romo said on a conference call
minutes ago. "I was able to do some things with the ball we weren't sure about.
It should be good to go."</p>


Romo, who was listed as being limited in practice today, played through
broken ribs earlier this season and anticipates the hand won't give him as many
problems as that injury did. But given this latest issue, the importance of the
game and the setting, he believes the Giants will tighten up their coverage
(from their recent zone-heavy schemes to man-to-man) and try to get after
him.</p>


"They do it early in the game sometimes and they see where they can get away
with it," Romo said. "I just think the fact we're going to be on the road and
they're going to be at home, they're going to want to set a certain type of
tempo and I think they're going to bring a little bit extra pressure and play
some man coverages. That's just something that, in a game like this, they'll
want to do."</p>


The last time these teams played it was a shootout: <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/12/giants-cowboys_game_review_eli.html">37-34
Giants</a>. Romo's hand and a few other factors could affect the style of play
this time around.</p>


"You never know. You just go into the game knowing you're going to have to do
what your team needs to try and find a win," Romo said. "You never know what the
conditions are going to be. This time of the year up in New (Jersey) it could be
anything. For us, it's a matter of executing each play and getting in the end
zone as many times as you can.</p>


"It's a big game, it's important. This is why you play the game." Read more...
</p><font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS</u></font><u><font size="4">
</font></u><font size="4"><font size="3">
IN CRUNCH TIME, ELI MANNING THRIVES FOR GIANTS, UNLIKE COWBOYS' QB TONY ROMO (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/crunch-time-eli-manning-thrives-ny-giants-dallas-cowboys-counterpart-tony-romo-article-1.998249)

Excerpt: "</font></font><a title="Tony Romo" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Romo">Tony
Romo</a> insisted on Wednesday that he will be fine, that his bruised, swollen
right hand will be ready and able to hurl many spirals downfield against the
Giants secondary he tore apart three weeks earlier in what became yet another
big Dallas defeat.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“It’s continuing to improve a little bit day by day,” said Romo, who
practiced with a glove. “Should be good to go this weekend. The swelling
continues to subside a little bit each day. I expect to play. When you play
quarterback in the NFL, you understand you’re going to have bumps and bruises
along the way.”</p>


Though no Giant would ever admit this, Romo’s almost certain participation on
Sunday is not necessarily a terrible thing going into what amounts to the NFC
East Championship on Sunday night. His grip may be loose, his accuracy
unreliable. Romo is on a hot streak of late — 18 touchdowns and just three
interceptions in the last eight games — yet he carries with him a reputation for
chokes unmatched by any other elite NFL quarterback.</p>


Romo has been either very unlucky or very erratic in the most important
situations. He is not Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning), in other
words, even if Romo is ranked fourth right now in the NFL quarterback ratings
while Manning is ninth. With seasons on the line, Manning has been far more
likely than Romo to engineer that final winning drive.</p>


“I wouldn’t rather have anyone else,” Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) said
Wednesday, of Manning. “I’ll take No. 10 and ride and die with him.”</p>


In the minds of teammates and fans, Manning is forever scrambling out of
trouble against New England, throwing a fateful ball toward <a title="David Tyree" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Tyree">David
Tyree</a>’s helmet and pulling off a Super Bowl miracle upset in the Arizona
desert. He’s pulled off such theatrics time and again, this season against the
Cowboys and Patriots.</p>


“He’s cool, calm and collected,” Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz) said. “He’s
been there, done it. He isn’t flustered. He never gets out of character or feels
like he has to yell at you.”</p>


For Cowboy fans, memories of Romo in the biggest games are very different.
It’s not as if Romo doesn’t do good things. He has a 47-28 record as a starter,
22-14 on the road. He’s thrown more career touchdown passes in the fourth
quarter, 43, than in any other period. Against the Giants on Dec. 11, he passed
for 321 yards and four touchdowns and had a quarterback rating of
141.3." Read more...</p>

GIANTS' HAKEEM NICKS HAVING DEEP THOUGHTS ABOUT COWBOYS FOR SUNDAY'S NFC EAST TITLE GAME (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-hakeem-nicks-deep-thoughts-article-1.998222)</p>

"Hakeem Nicks (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Hakeem+Nicks) believes
his ability to get deep was zapped after he reinjured his hamstring in the first
quarter Saturday against the Jets. But the receiver expects to be ready when the
Giants face Dallas for the NFC East title Sunday night.</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“It’s all or nothing. It’s the playoffs now. So I don’t see myself missing
it,” Nicks said after sitting out practice Wednesday. “You never know, these
things are tricky, but I don’t see myself missing this game . . . I ain’t the
type of guy that looks for no excuses. If I am out there, I’ve got to be ready
to go.”</p>


Nicks has had multiple drops in his past two games, and he was limited to
just one catch for 20 yards while covered often by Darrelle Revis (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Darrelle+Revis) in
the Giants’ 29-14 win on Christmas Eve.</p>


“I wouldn’t say it’s as bad (as earlier this season), but it’s definitely
there,” said Nicks, who initially injured his hamstring in Week 2 and then
missed the New England game Nov. 6 with the same injury. “I couldn’t dig the way
I wanted to, and honestly, it took away the deep part of my game. . . . But I
wanted to stay out there, because I know even my presence out there can still
help us as far as the run game.”</p>


Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) credited
Nicks for remaining in the game, but noted that he “really didn’t have that
other gear, which you probably observed.”</p>


Coughlin added he was “optimistic right now” that both Nicks and Mario Manningham (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mario+Manningham)
will play Sunday. The latter returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday
after missing the Jets game with a knee injury.</p>


Nicks had eight catches for a season-high 163 yards and Manningham scored a
47-yard touchdown in the Giants’ 37-34 comeback win Dec. 11 in Dallas.</p>


Jake Ballard (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jake+Ballard) (knee)
also did some side work Wednesday, and Coughlin said he’s “holding out hope” the
tight end will play.</p>


SUPE TO NUTS
Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz) insisted he
wasn’t disappointed to be tabbed as a second alternate to the Pro Bowl. The
breakout receiver would prefer not to go to Hawaii anyway.</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“I wasn’t tripping. It was cool. I understood,” Cruz said. “The goal is to
make it to the Super Bowl, so I won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl anyway.”</p>


Cruz, who has set a team record with 1,358 receiving yards on 76 catches,
also claimed he grew up “a pretty avid Cowboy fan” in Paterson, N.J., adding
that he owned a Deion Sanders (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Deion+Sanders)
jersey.</p>


“I think about my Dad all the time. He was the one that made me a Cowboy
fan,” Cruz said of his father, Mike Walker (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mike+Walker), who died
in 2007. “It’s going to be one of those games you dream about playing in your
whole life, and I’m excited to make some big plays against them and to
potentially get this win.”</p>


ROCK AND ROLLE
Antrel Rolle (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Antrel+Rolle) on NBC
analyst Cris Collinsworth (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Cris+Collinsworth)
telling the Daily News he’d apologize to the Giant safety “if I’m proven wrong”
for saying Rolle was “barbecued” on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass in the
previous Dallas game:</p>


“I don’t care what he thinks. I don’t need his apology. His apology means
nothing to me, nor was I looking for an apology,” Rolle said. “I made my
statement, I stand by my statement, and my statement was very accurate. But that
was three weeks ago. We’ve moved on from that.”</p>


Without naming Collinsworth, Rolle fired back at the time at “commentators”
who talk like “they know what they’re talking about, but in reality they don’t
half of the time.”
</p></div></div>

OSI UMENYIORA MAY RETURN FOR GIANTS' RUSH JOB VS. COWBOYS SUNDAY FOR NFC EAST TITLE (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/osi-umenyiora-return-ny-giants-rush-job-dallas-cowboys-article-1.998247)</p>

"The Giants keep insisting that they are “all in” for their winner-take-all
finale against the Cowboys, and apparently they’re not kidding. Even <a title="Osi Umenyiora" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Osi+Umenyiora">Osi
Umenyiora</a> looks like he’s “in” this week.</p>

The oft-injured, occasionally disgruntled defensive end sent a jolt of energy
through the Giants’ defense on Wednesday when he stepped on the practice field
for the first time since he injured his ankle in late November. He was
officially “limited,” but Mathias Kiwanuka (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mathias+Kiwanuka)
said he looked “as fast as ever.”</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


And for a team that likes to say it can never have enough pass rushers — and
sometimes lines up four defensive ends on the field together — the return of the
two-time Pro Bowler couldn’t have come at a better time.</p>


“This is it, right?” said <a title="Dave Tollefson" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Dave+Tollefson">defensive end Dave
Tollefson</a>. “Win you’re in, lose you go home. You might as well pull out all
the stops and get everybody rolling, you know?”</p>


“All hands on deck,” added <a title="Michael Boley" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Michael+Boley">linebacker Michael
Boley</a>. “There’s no better way to put it.”</p>


The Giants (8-7) are clearly expecting that Umenyiora will be able to play
against the Cowboys (8-7) on Sunday night, but they won’t know for sure until
they see how his ankle responds to his first practice in more than a month. He
suffered the injury on Nov. 28 in New Orleans when a teammate rolled onto his
leg, and he was forced to miss the next four games.</p>


In his absence, Jason Pierre-Paul (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Pierre-Paul)
has taken over with five sacks, 29 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked field
goal in the last three games, alone. Two times in the last three weeks —
including for his performance last Saturday against the Jets — Pierre-Paul was
named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week and, on Tuesday, he was named to the
NFC Pro Bowl team.</p>


With Umenyiora back, Pierre-Paul — the Giants’ best defensive player — would
become their top reserve. Pierre-Paul, though, said that’s “good” because “Now I
get a chance to rest.” And with a deeper pass rush, they all should be fresher
late in the game.</p>


“(Pierre-Paul) has been everything and plus-some,” Tollefson said. “Now we
get another Pro Bowl guy back? I mean, come on, could you ask for anything
better? It’s not like we had to sign some guy off the street.” Read more..</p>

HEADING INTO GIANTS' GAME, INJURED HAND NO WORRY FOR COWBOYS' TONY ROMO (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/injured-hand-worry-dallas-cowboys-tony-romo-article-1.998252)</p>

Excerpt: "It has all come down to one winner-take-the-NFC East Cowboys-Giants clash at
MetLife Stadium. And bruised hand or not, Tony Romo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tony+Romo) doesn’t plan to
miss it.</p>

That was the message the Dallas quarterback had for his team Wednesday. Just
four days after hurting his right hand in a loss to the Eagles, Romo returned to
practice Afterward, he said he expects to play Sunday.</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“We should be good to go for this weekend,” Romo said.</p>


Romo did not take his full load of snaps during a limited session, coach Jason Garrett (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jason+Garrett) said,
but he did show progress. He is still battling swelling in the hand, but he
threw the ball solidly, much to his own surprise.</p>


“Today was good,” Romo said. “I was able to do some things with the ball that
we weren’t sure about, so it was a good start to the work. We are going to keep
working on it and get all the treatment and stuff. We should be good to go for
this weekend.”</p>


“I couldn’t even tell he was hurt,” added wideout Laurent Robinson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Laurent+Robinson).
“We’re very confident that he’ll be ready.”</p>


Garrett cautioned, however, that Romo isn’t yet ready for game action. The
coach said that Romo had “a good day today,” but he added that the QB “still
needs to make some progress on the thing.” Romo was also unsure of how his
injured hand would handle a full game of QB-center exchanges.</p>


“We are doing some different things during the week,” he said. “The game is
not until Sunday, so we have a lot of time to get it right so you feel
better.” Read more...
</p></div></div></div><u><font size="4">NY POST</font></u>
[/url]<div><div>
[url="http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/giants_jacobs_call_cowboys_fans_9JPX8vLqH6VZ25aijX FYhO"]GIANTS' BRANDON JACOBS CALLS COWBOYS' FANS LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/star_crossed_pyyZtNdRDaReW5swVLRbvJ)

Excerpt: "How about those Cowboys … fans?<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


That’s the major problem Brandon Jacobs has with the team that stands in the
way of the Giants winning the NFC East and making the playoffs. </p>


The Giants, especially Justin Tuck, aren’t shy about expressing their hatred
of the Cowboys. Now Jacobs explains why he isn’t a big fan: Because of the
Cowboys fans.</p>


“The reason that a lot of guys on opposing teams hate the Cowboys is their
fans,’’ Jacobs said Thursday afternoon. “So many of their fans are loud and
obnoxious. Everywhere you go you got some Dallas fans and they’re just like
running their mouth about Dallas and keep going. It’s not really the team and
the star and all that because they’re just like any other team in the National
Football League, but their fans are the ones who have me feeling the way I feel.
That’s my issue.”</p>


Throughout the NFC East and the NFL, Eagles fans are renowned as perhaps the
most difficult group to deal with, but Jacobs ranks Cowboys fans at the top of
the heap.</p>


“I’m not talking about being a fan of the team and going out actually at the
game and doing the type of stuff they do in Philly,’’ Jacobs explained. “I’m
just talking about in everyday life, Cowboys fans get on my
nerves.”
</p></div>GIANTS' OSI UMENYIORA PRACTICES AGAIN (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/giants_osi_practices_again_ready_T2YTCy5j6ab4Oh8o7 XW1VJ)

"Osi Umenyiora knows exactly what he is.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“I’m not a power rusher or any of that,’’ the Giants defensive end said
Thursday afternoon. “My thing is speed and if I don’t have that I’m not going to
be able to go.’’</p>


Clearly, Umenyiora believes he has his speed back after missing the past four
games with a high ankle sprain. He’s determined to play in Sunday’s playoff
elimination game against the Cowboys.</p>


“I feel like I can help,’ Umenyiora said, “and that’s exactly what I plan on
doing.’’</p>


Umenyiora for the first time in a month got back on the practice field
Wednesday but said he did much more to test his ankle Thursday. So far, so good.
The pass rusher would not say if he will play in the game, deferring that
announcement to coach Tom Coughlin, but made it clear what is going to happen
this weekend.</p>


“My gut feeling? We’re not really allowed to answer questions like that,’’
Umenyiora said. “I have to defer to coach Coughlin about that.’’</p>


Umenyiora then smiled and whispered, “Yes.’’</p>


Umenyiora has seven sacks in the eight games he’s played this season but said
he should not start at right defensive end in place of Jason Pierre-Paul, who as
a replacement has 15 1/2 sacks and earlier this week was named to his first Pro
Bowl. </p>


Pierre-Paul turns 23 on Sunday and said he’d like to start.</p>


“He deserves to be the starter, there’s no question about it,’’ Umenyiora
said. “The guys playing at as high a level at defensive end as I’ve seen in a
long time and I’ve been here a long time. He deserves to be the starter.
Whatever this team needs for me to do, whether that’s come in and spot him or
(Justin) Tuck, whatever they need me to do I’ll do, I don’t have a problem with
that.’’</p>


Umenyiora said, “I don’t expect to play a whole bunch of plays but when I’m
in there I’m gonna come as hard as I can.’’ </p>


He said he considers himself fortunate to be able to return in time for the
most critical game of the season after initially fearing he might not play
again.</p>


“I thought so, honestly, for a while,’’ Umenyiora said. “Everybody who’s had
the same type of high ankle sprain that I’ve had has told me it’s a 4-6 week
recovery time,. I’ve seen other guys who had the same injury try to come back,
like a Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger, it just seemed they were completely
off, so I was concerned about that. After last week things started to improve a
little bit and hopefully everything will work out for me on
Sunday.’’</p></div>HAKEEM NICKS, GIANTS' WIDE RECEIVER, HAS "NO DOUBT" HE'LL PLAY AGAINST DALLAS (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/giants_nicks_tests_strained_hamstring_f6xwmcVuZ2Uh 2EY4m5jRjO)

"Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said he’s is playing in Sunday’s
winner-take-all game against the Cowboys, with first place in the NFC East on
the line, the playoffs for the winner and elimination for the loser.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“I have no doubt in my mind, I’m playing,’’ Nicks said Thursday. “I know
that. It’s all or nothing.’’</p>


Nicks, dealing with a strained hamstring, did some running on the side inside
the fieldhouse while the Giants practiced. Nicks even did a few backpedals,
though he rested and tested his strained hamstring, not participating in any
aspect of practice.</p>


This is no surprise at all. Nicks on Wednesday said he would not push himself
for a few days, hoping to strengthen his hamstring as much as possible, and
hoped to get on the field in some capacity Friday. </p>


“We just wanted to see where it was at by just striding it out a little bit,
it was all right,’’ Nicks said. “It’s a situation where you know it’s gonna be
there, it ain’t gonna just eventually go overnight. Just a matter of me playing
with it. Luckily I played with it before, I finished last game with it, just got
to make sure I take care of it and have no setbacks at this point.’’</p>


Nicks has been bothered by hamstring issues since the second week of the
season. He missed the Nov. 6 victory in New England because the hamstring was
fully strained and he re-injured the hamstring late in the first quarter of last
week’s victory over the Jets. Nicks stayed in the game, got his hamstring
wrapped at halftime, but was not effective at all, with one catch for 20 yards.
He said he could not get off the line of scrimmage with any consistency and his
ailing leg did not allow him to run any deep routes.</p>


“I know what I’m working with now,’’ Nicks said. “We know how to game-plan
around it or within it, hopefully it won’t limit my game, hopefully it won’t
limit my burst and I’ll be able to get down the field and make plays for us.
It’s a matter of playing with it and being tough, gutting it out.’’</p>


The other hurting offensive player, tight end Jake Ballard, did not practice.
He did make an appearance on the field, standing in place and catching a few
passes during one drill, but he was not wearing pads and was going to sit out
practice again. </p>


Ballard is trying to fast-forward the healing process after partially tearing
the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against the Redskins on Dec.
18. Ballard ran on Wednesday but Tom Coughlin said the medical staff did not
feel Ballard was up to running again a day later.</p>


Two other players who did not practice Wednesday – running back Ahmad
Bradshaw and rookie linebacker Mark Herzlich – sat out again. Bradshaw, who
rarely practices during the week to ease the strain on his foot, is expected to
work Friday. Herzlich did some running on the side.</p>


The positive sign for the Giants is that for the second straight day, <a href="http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/giants_osi_practices_again_ready_T2YTCy5j6ab4Oh8o7 XW1VJ">defensive
end Osi Umenyiora</a> and receiver Mario Manningham were on the field again,
working on a limited basis. Manningham missed last week’s game vs. the Jets with
ongoing issues with his knee and, along with Umenyiora, appears to be on target
to play Sunday night."
</p></div>
##

UMENYIORA LOOKS "GREAT" IN SURPRISE APPEARANCE AT GIANTS' PRACTICE (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/osi_bursts_back_on_giants_scene_13cRuSch7w4IbDC0TA lfZJ)

"If speed kills, the Giants might be about to bust-up the Cowboys, because it
sure looks as if they will have their rocket back and ready for blast-off.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


That Osi Umenyiora, for the first time in a month, yesterday was actually on
the field came as a surprise just five days before the showdown of all
showdowns, Sunday night against the Cowboys with the NFC East title going to
whichever team proves capable of grabbing onto the prize.</p>


Even more astonishing than his return are the reports of how Umenyiora, gone
so long with a debilitating high ankle sprain, looked upon his return.</p>
<div id="intext_area_middle" class="intext_area narrow">
<div class="block ad wrap quigo">
</div></div>


“As fast as ever,’’ linebacker<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Mathias_Kiwanuka">
Mathias Kiwanuka </a>said.</p>


“He looked good, man,’’ echoed defensive end Dave Tollefson. “When does he
not look good? Osi’s a great athlete. He looked great.’’</p>


Umenyiora doesn’t look good when he’s riding a stationary bicycle off on the
side or when he’s sitting on his couch watching the Giants try to nail the
quarterback without him. </p>


<a href="http://www.nypost.com/blogs/giantsblog" target="_blank">UPDATES FROM
OUR GIANTS BLOG</a> </p>


After missing four consecutive games since coming away from the dreadful Nov.
28 loss in New Orleans with a severe ankle injury, there was almost no
expectation that Umenyiora would be able to return for the final regular-season
game, even a contest with so much riding on it. Sources close to Umenyiora said
he has been unable to push off the ankle and he would not play until it was
stronger and more stable.</p>


When Tom Coughlin (/t/Tom_Coughlin)in the
morning was asked about Umenyiora, it seemed like a throwaway question designed
to get the requisite “Not today’’ response.</p>


“Osi’s gonna practice today,’’ Coughlin said matter-of-factly.</p>


Indeed, he did, listed as limited participation but by all indications
looking fresh and quick, ready to take aim at Tony Romo (/t/Tony_Romo)and add some fuel to a defensive front and
pass rush that got its act together last week, dropping Mark Sanchez (/t/Mark_Sanchez)five times in a 29-14 victory over the
Jets.</p>


“It would be pretty impeccable timing to get everyone healthy and kind of
running on one accord,’’ Tollefson said.</p>


On most teams, a healthy Umenyiora would be re-inserted into the lineup, no
questions asked — but the Giants are not most teams. Umenyiora missed the first
three games of the season coming back from knee surgery and has been out the
last four. The Giants came up with a fairly decent replacement at right
defensive end. </p>


Jason Pierre-Paul in his second NFL season emerged as a star, fourth in the
NFL with 15 1/2 sacks, named earlier this week to his first Pro Bowl (/t/Pro_Bowl)and yesterday honored as the NFC Defensive
Player of the Week for wreaking havoc on the Jets."
</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


“It’s like 1A and 1B with those two,’’ defensive tackle Chris Canty (/t/Chris_Canty)said. “Both of ’em can get after the
quarterback, it’s a tremendous asset when you have that caliber of pass rushers
on the field. It’s just going to be more bullets in the gun for
us.’’ Read more...</p>NICKED-UP HAKEEM NO REASON FOR GIANTS TO WORRY (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/nicked_up_hakeem_reason_to_worry_XaNpscSjlG48unDcZ 2JqVN)

Excerpt: "Giants fans will need to hold their breath on this one.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


Eli Manning’s go-to receiver not named Victor Cruz is Nicked Up.</p>


“If I’m out there, I’d like to say I’d be myself, but you never know,” Hakeem Nicks (/t/Hakeem_Nicks)said. “These things are
tricky. I’m gonna go ahead and claim I’ll be myself out there. I always got to
think positive.”</p>


If I’m out there are four words that ought to send shudders down the
spine of every Giants fan.</p>


“I don’t see myself missing this game,” Nicks said.</p>



Tom Coughlin and Manning are similarly optimistic. But Nicks sat out
yesterday’s practice with the hamstring he strained against the Jets. Manning
will be hard-pressed to win a shootout with Tony Romo on Sunday night if Nicks
is hamstrung in any capacity, or worse, if he suffers a setback during The Game
of Games.</p>
<div id="intext_area_middle" class="intext_area">
<div class="block ad wrap quigo">
</div></div>


“I notice it, I can’t really dig like I want to right now,” Nicks said.</p>


Asked if he expects to be 100 percent Sunday night, Nicks said: “Close to 100
percent as I can get. I don’t think nobody’s gonna be 100 percent playing
football this time of year. Something’s gonna be nagging, something’s gonna be
hurting, but come game time, you know how to put all that stuff behind you.”</p>


Come game time, you won’t even think about it?</p>


“No. If I’m playing, I’m not thinking about it,” Nicks said. “Out of sight,
out of mind.”</p>


It may have been out of sight against the Jets, but it was not out of mind
for Nicks, who didn’t have time for his extensive pregame stretching regimen,
once his hamstring began barking in the first quarter.</p>


“I didn’t really have no burst,” Nicks said. “I couldn’t really do my
releases how I wanted to off the line of scrimmage, showing favoritism to it
’cause I didn’t want to pull it. I’m not the one to make excuses. If I’m out
there, I’m out there. You’re gonna get anything I can give you.”</p>


Nicks said he is hopeful he will have his burst back against the Cowboys, and
Manning needs him to be more than a decoy against that suspect secondary. </p>


“That’s the plan, that’s why I’m taking it easy this week,” Nicks said. “I’m
usually a fast healer so ... looking forward to being out there.”</p>


He is hoping to go through a limited practice today. </p>


“I don’t expect me to have full-out practice, “ Nicks said.</p>


If his hamstring holds up — big if, considering he missed the Patriots game
in November because of the same hamstring — Nicks will expect to dominate.</p>


“I just know how I bounce back,” Nicks said. “I know myself, I know my game
and how I play. These last two weeks haven’t been my best. And plus, I was
always told the bigger the stage the better I play, and I feel like that as well
so ... This is a big-stage game, and we know what’s at task, and we want to get
to the playoffs, and I definitely do as well so we just gotta come out here and
make it happen.”</p>


But he made only one catch for 20 yards happen on Revis Island as he spent a
good part of his sideline time getting stretched in front of the heater after
getting a halftime wrap for support.</p>


“I couldn’t really go deep,” Nicks said. “Just wanted to stay out there
because I know even my presence out there can still help us out as far as on the
run game or not just clouding one side.”</p>


Nicks, whose large hands have become legendary around the Giants, has been
plagued recently by the dropsies. </p>


“I just need to [get] back down to the basics for myself personally, looking
the ball all the way in,” he said. “Sometimes I get carried away too fast, I try
to make a move without the ball. But with these last two games, the weather’s
been playing a factor, so I’ve gotta do a better part of looking the ball
in.” Read more...
</p></div>GIANTS' CRUZ BIG COWBOYS FAN (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/cruz_torn_between_his_two_teams_7kvwqs391UdXUdjSTS YZ1L)

Excerpt: "The fact that the Cowboys have fans all around the world is nothing new.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


What’s unusual is that a player who will be trying to knock America’s Team
out of playoff contention Sunday was — and perhaps still is — one of them.</p>


Giants wideout<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Victor_Cruz"> Victor Cruz
</a>confessed yesterday to a raging, lifelong love of the Cowboys — the team he
will line up against this weekend at MetLife Stadium with the NFC East title and
a trip to the postseason on the line.</p>



How much of a Dallas devotee was (and perhaps still is) Cruz? He appeared to
accidentally refer to the Cowboys as “we” when describing how upset he was at
Big Blue’s sweep of Dallas in 2009 — the year before he made the Giants’ roster
as an undrafted free agent.</p>
<div id="intext_area_middle" class="intext_area narrow">
<div class="block ad wrap quigo">
</div></div>


“I was pretty upset when we lost to the Giants a couple of years back when I
was in college,” said Cruz, a Paterson, N.J., native. “I was pretty upset for a
while.”</p>


Cruz said he has no split NFL loyalties now that he is a rising star for the
Giants and among the league’s leaders in receptions (76) and receiving yards
(1,358).</p>


But Cruz, who said he wore a No. 21 Cowboys jersey with Deion Sanders’ name
on it all the way through college, sounded as if he wished the Giants’ road to
the playoffs Sunday didn’t have to go through his former favorite team.</p>


“Being a former Cowboy fan, there’s none of that hatred there just yet,” Cruz
said. “You understand the rivalry and you understand that a lot of Giants fans
don’t like the Cowboys. I just want to win, regardless of how I feel about the
other team.”
</p>Cruz’s love of the Cowboys came from his late father, Michael Walker, whom he
described as “Cowboys fan since birth” thanks to Dallas’ glory days of Roger
Staubach, Tony Dorsett and<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Drew_Pearson"> Drew
Pearson </a>in the 1970s.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


Because of that father-son bond, Cruz said Walker will be at the forefront of
his mind during the game Sunday night.</p>


“It’s going to be one of those games you dream about playing in your whole
life, getting the chance to make plays against them,” Cruz said.</p>


Cruz never had a chance to visit Texas Stadium before it was demolished two
years ago, but he said getting to play in the Cowboys’ palatial new home was a
thrill.</p>


“To be there, in that stadium, in that setting, was an amazing feeling,” he
said. “I had goosebumps going into that game. It was huge for
me.”</p>MANNINGHAM BACK ON PRACTICE FIELD FOR GIANTS (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/manningham_back_on_practice_field_vAoAAq6fyDAzJ8la GEzXjK)

"Tom Coughlin is usually the bearer of bad news when it comes to announcing
which players he anticipates will miss practice that day and yesterday he said
two receivers, Hakeem Nicks (/t/Hakeem_Nicks)and
Mario Manningham, would sit out. Coughlin was half right and pleasantly
surprised.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">


Nicks, dealing with a strained hamstring, did not work, but Manningham,
bothered for weeks by a sore and swollen knee, was able to participate on a
limited basis. That bodes well for Manningham’s availability for Sunday’s game
against the Cowboys, given that he did not practice at all last week and missed
the 29-14 victory over the Jets.</p>
<div id="intext_area_middle" class="intext_area narrow">
<div class="block ad wrap quigo">
</div></div>


The news is not quite as promising for tight end Jake Ballard, who is dealing
with a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He did not
practice, but Coughlin said he is “improving.’’ Ballard, who did not play
against the Jets, was able to run on the side and do some soft cuts, which is
more than he did at any time last week.</p>



Running back<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Ahmad_Bradshaw"> Ahmad Bradshaw
</a>(foot) and linebacker Mark Herzlich (ankle) also missed practice.</p>


* Safety Antrel Rolle is adamant that the quality of
practice last Wednesday had a direct impact on the performance vs. the Jets.
Rolle did not offer a review of yesterday’s practice. </p>


“I’m not here to give a daily report of how practice goes. That’s up to
Coach,’’ Rolle said. “We’re working, that’s the best thing I can give you. We’re
working hard and we have our eyes on the prize.’’</p>


* LB Mathias Kiwanuka believes the defense can do a number
on the Cowboys. </p>


“If we play a complete game from beginning to end we’ll pitch a shutout,’’ he
said.</p>


* Coughlin, who was run into by RB D.J. Ware against the
Jets and came away with a painful left leg injury, said he received a text
message from Saints coach Sean Payton, who on Oct. 16 tore
ligaments and broke a bone in his left leg after getting hit by his own tight
end, Jimmy Graham. The message? “You look like you’re a better
athlete than me. You didn’t go down.’’ </p>


* Cowboys LB<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Sean_Lee"> Sean Lee
</a>(wrist/illness), NT Jay Ratliff (ribs), S
Danny McCray (ankle) and LB DeMarcus Ware
(neck) did not practice. Ware plans to practice today."</p></div><u><font size="4">THE BERGEN RECORD</font></u>
</div></div></div></div></div></div><div><div><div>
GIANTS' RECEIVING CORPS BATTLING BACK (http://www.northjersey.com/sports/pro_sports/football/136361558_WR_corps_battling_back.html)

Excerpt: "Hakeem Nicks left little doubt.<div id="storybody">


"I’m playing," he told reporters Wednesday after sitting out practice with a
hamstring strain. "It is all or nothing. It is [the] playoffs now."</p>


But the question for the Giants’ receiver – as well as Mario Manningham and
tight end Jake Ballard – is not simply will they play Sunday night against the
Cowboys, but how effective will they be if they do suit up.</p>


Three of Eli Manning’s top four receivers are hobbled, with Nicks the latest
to end up on the injury report. He aggravated his hamstring in the Christmas Eve
victory over the Jets, an injury that has lingered since Week 2 and kept him out
of the Nov. 6 victory over the Patriots.</p>


The Giants beat the Cowboys earlier this month by throwing for 400 yards, and
the injured trio accounted for 268 of them.</p>


Ballard has not practiced since he partially tore the posterior cruciate
ligament in his knee in the Dec. 18 loss to the Redskins. Although he did run
outside, he did not practice.</p>


The Giants did get positive news with Manningham, who unexpectedly practiced
on a limited basis after coach Tom Coughlin said he would not.</p>


Coughlin was "optimistic that [Nicks and Manningham] will be ready to go"
Sunday. He was less certain about Ballard, saying he was "holding out hope."</p>


The responsibility would fall to Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum if Ballard is
sidelined. Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and Devin Thomas could see more
playing time at receiver.</p>


Nicks said his hamstring strain "is definitely there, and I can’t really dig
like I want to right now." Read more...
</p></div>SULLIVAN: ROMO'S BATTERED HAND VS. ELI'S BRUISED RECEIVERS (http://www.northjersey.com/sports/pro_sports/football/Sullivan_Romos_battered_hand_vs_Elis_bruised_recei vers.html)

Excerpt: "Sometimes, when the football stars align and the game conditions allow, even a
jaded NFL veteran player finds himself turning into a regular football fan. Just
a few weeks ago in Dallas, Antrel Rolle felt it happen to him.


Being a sideline observer to yet another display of fourth quarter Eli
Manning magic can do that to you.</p>


“You almost forget you’re a teammate. You get almost starstruck by seeing him
doing what he’s doing,” Rolle said Wednesday after the Giants practiced for
their NFC East all-or-nothing Sunday night rematch with the Cowboys. “I wouldn’t
rather have anyone else. I’ll take ‘10’ and ride and die with him.”</p>


The dramatic season-ender between these heated rivals sets up as a stage for
a few more acts of quarterback stardom. If Manning has won over his team with
clutch performances and calm stewardship, his Cowboys’ counterpart Tony Romo has
won over his team with gritty toughness. Both will have to overcome major
obstacles to win this decisive game – Manning with injuries to his receiving
corps and Romo with an injury to his throwing hand – but recent history says one
of them will find a way.</p>


That the Giants are playing for the right to continue playing is a direct
result of last weekend’s emotional win over the Jets, but the roots of this
virtual playoff run go back to Week 14, to the thrilling 37-34 victory in Dallas
that went down to the game’s final seconds. If Jason Pierre-Paul was the
immediate hero for blocking Dallas’ last-ditch field goal attempt, Manning was
the MVP for leading two touchdown drives in the final 5:41.</p>


Manning covered a total of 138 yards in 14 plays, scoring an 8-yard touchdown
to Jake Ballard with 2:27 left before handing off for a 1-yard touchdown by
Brandon Jacobs with :51 remaining. He was in total control, covering 122 of the
yards in the air, completing 8 of 11 passes on the two drives. He kept the
huddle calm and focused, authoring an endgame scenario second only to the late
drive that out-Bradied Tom Brady earlier this season in New England.</p>


“Eli’s drive against Dallas was huge, No. 1 or 2 in there next to the
Patriots one,” receiver Victor Cruz said. “It was big, down two scores, for him
to get us to score quickly, get a stop on defense, and score again. Nothing
stresses him out. You know ‘E’ – he’s calm, doesn’t yell, he just gets us to
line up and execute. He never gets out of character.</p>


“It’s so good to have a guy that’s experienced in those situations. He
doesn’t panic or get overly frustrated.”</p>


All signs point to Sunday’s win-or-go-home game following the pattern that
has defined both the Giants and Cowboys this season – play to the final whistle.
These familiar combatants come to Sunday’s battle with similar profiles – strong
passing offenses, reliable efficient quarterbacks, porous overmatched
secondaries, and desperate, dire motives.</p>


“A 60-minute game, no way around it,” defensive tackle Chris Canty said.
“This is not going to be a lopsided game.”</p>


But for Pierre-Paul’s special teams’ play, Canty’s defense would have been on
the wrong end of Romo’s late heroics. The oft-maligned Cowboy quarterback drove
51 yards in 41 seconds to earn Dallas a 47-yard field goal try with six seconds
to go. When a perfectly timed Tom Coughlin timeout iced away an initially
successful attempt by rookie kicker Dan Bailey, Pierre-Paul erased the second
attempt and the Giants escaped with the win.</p>


Canty all but scoffed at the popular notion that Sunday’s game will play out
in the same backyard football format, where the last quarterback with the ball
will end up going home with the win. “I’m a defensive player, I believe defense
wins. If the other guy doesn’t score, he can’t win,” he said. If his prediction
turns out to be accurate, it’s likely because of the hurdles Manning and Romo
are facing this week.</p>


Manning could be without three of his top four targets, with No. 1 receiver
Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) an unexpected addition to the injury report Wednesday.
Nicks probably has a better shot at playing than holdover hobblers Jake Ballard
(knee) and Mario Manningham (knee), but if not, Manning is left with Victor Cruz
and the likes of Ramses Barden, Devin Thomas, Travis Beckum, Jerrel Jernigan and
Bear Pascoe.' Read more...
</p><u><font size="4">THE NEW YORK TIMES</font></u>
</div></div></div><div>
CHARGING FOR DOWNLOADS REST OF MONTH

<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/pages/sports/football/index.

Buckeroo
12-29-2011, 10:07 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

buddy33
12-29-2011, 10:21 AM
Why does it seem they can never get a break with injuries? Looks like Ballard is not going to play and now Nicks is bother by a hamstring injury. At least it is supposed to be warm that day so hopefully it wont be to cold at night.

Honestly I hope they run for 200 yards and just tire out the defense.

RoanokeFan
12-29-2011, 10:23 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

[Y] Catchy name

GameTime
12-29-2011, 10:27 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

[Y] Catchy name
</P>


it is isnt it.....</P>

RoanokeFan
12-29-2011, 10:28 AM
Why does it seem they can never get a break with injuries? Looks like Ballard is not going to play and now Nicks is bother by a hamstring injury. At least it is supposed to be warm that day so hopefully it wont be to cold at night.

Honestly I hope they run for 200 yards and just tire out the defense.

It's a puzzle, that's for sure. But Nicks will play and we need Manningham to play well. Even if Nicks is just able to be a decoy, he commands a lot of attention when he's on the field. The defense may well surprise us all on Sunday.

I can't help but think Tuck, JPP and Osi are going to have monster games. The loss of their starting left guard is going to cause problems for Romo. I just have the sense that we are going to finally have 60 full minutes of football in all three phases of the game on Sunday. if only Hixon were our return man.....

RoanokeFan
12-29-2011, 10:29 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

[Y] Catchy name
</p>


it is isnt it.....</p>

Ambidextrous today lol

GameTime
12-29-2011, 10:31 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

[Y] Catchy name
</P>


it is isnt it.....</P>




Ambidextrous today lol
</P>


call me Sybil.....lol</P>

RoanokeFan
12-29-2011, 10:35 AM
thank you sir for all your hard work and effort. I am new to the boards and its nice to see that someone takes on the job of posting all this information....

[Y] Catchy name
</p>


it is isnt it.....</p>




Ambidextrous today lol
</p>


call me Sybil.....lol</p>

[;)]

lttaylor56
12-29-2011, 11:42 AM
I concur, I have a feeling that we are going to play an entire 60 minutes of complete football this Sunday. JPP is going to run wild on his birthday and Romo will be sacked multiple times.

Let's host a playoff game!