- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- Last year, during New York Giants training camp, Chris Canty couldn't feel like he was part of his new team. After signing a six-year, $42 million contract prior to the season, he suffered a hamstring injury that kept him from practicing in camp, and it is hard to bond with new teammates from the sidelines.
This season, things couldn't be more different.
"It's definitely different for me -- I'm not riding a bicycle," Canty said. "I'm out there practicing and that's a great thing. It's a good feeling to be out there grinding with my teammates, building a foundation with my football team and hopefully for a successful 2010 campaign."
The Giants have a laundry list of injured players this preseason, but Canty isn't on the list. Training camp wasn't his only setback last year, however. The defensive lineman returned from the hamstring injury only to suffer a calf injury in the regular-season opener against the Washington Redskins.
Canty underwent an innovative platelet-rich plasma therapy to help heal the calf. He said it reduced the amount of time he needed to heal and added power to the leg almost immediately, but he didn't play again until Week 9 against the San Diego Chargers.
"Before last season here with the Giants I hadn't missed anything as a professional," Canty said. "It was just tough last year dealing with the injuries, not being able to come be a part of a new football team, get to know my teammates and experience that grind with them in training camp on the field. And so this year I'm thankful to have the opportunity to be able to do that."
Justin Tuck, who plays up front with Canty on the defensive line, said Canty and defensive end Dave Tollefson were having the best camps this season in Albany. Tuck said Canty, at 6-foot-7 and 304 pounds, was going to bring an imposing presence to the defense.
"That guy, I really expect him to have a big year," Tuck said. "He's healthy, he's excited about being on the football field and he brings that to the football field."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin felt similarly, and praised Canty's work ethic in getting game-ready after having his career put on pause by the injuries.
"He's had a good camp," Coughlin said, "[with] his ability to hang in there and his endurance. He has worked very hard. I don't think he went anywhere this summer and he was in the Timex [practice] facility. It's just the ability to keep him on the field and he's going to be playing out there."
Coughlin said there is no substitute for being on the field in camp, making at least one of the practices per day and being mentally involved in schemes and meetings. Canty said given his years in the league, he didn't feel he missed out on strategy last year, but the camaraderie of being out there on the field this camp is irreplaceable.
"I know what he went through last year and I know after signing a deal like that guys expect you to come in and have a bigger role and play well and help this team win," Tuck said. "And he wasn't able to do that because of the injury bug. So for him to be healthy now and coming out and making plays in this camp, I'm very excited to see that."
Ultimately, Canty's presence should help the Giants' defense greatly this season, after a year that has been called unacceptable by many players on the team.
"Last year let us know that what we did was not enough, period," Canty said. "8-8 is not acceptable for the New York football Giants so our practices have to be that much more intense."
17hEric D. Williams