- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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Manning practiced Monday afternoon wearing a blue Giants baseball cap instead of a helmet. For the most part, everything looked normal as Manning identified the middle linebacker, barked out a few signals and took the snap from Shaun O'Hara.
"I liked his tempo right away," coach Tom Coughlin said after practice. "He got the ball out of his hand quick and made some real good decisions. So we're glad to have him back on the practice field."
Manning expects to be able to put on a helmet for Wednesday's practice.
He had 12 stitches removed from his forehead Friday and sat out Saturday's preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It feels fine; the stitches are out," Manning said prior to practice. "I'm not wearing a helmet today for practice, will be in a hat, but it feels fine and is not hurting. It's exposed; as long as I don't get hit in the head, it will be all right."
Manning suffered a 3-inch gash when he had his chin strap knocked loose after a collision with running back Brandon Jacobs on a busted play against the Jets on Aug. 16. Manning's helmet then came off when he was hit from behind by Jets linebacker Calvin Pace, and the quarterback's forehead struck Jets safety Jim Leonhard's face mask.
Manning's return to the field comes at what is typically the most critical time in the preseason -- the third preseason game. That is when teams usually play their starters the longest before resting them in the final preseason game.
As it happens, the Giants' offense might be at its healthiest this week. Jacobs practiced despite missing Saturday's game with a stiff neck. The running back said before practice his neck stiffened because he was doing shrugs in the weight room and started without really warming up.
"I'll be out there today, full speed, what's called upon me to do," said Jacobs, who will play Saturday against the Ravens. "It was painful, but it is something that was going to go away with proper treatment. It was never really a big issue with me."
The Giants' offense needs the work. The unit has been limited in the preseason with starting guards Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (hand) out. The team also was forced to use third-string quarterback Rhett Bomar the whole game against the Steelers because of injuries to Manning and backup Jim Sorgi (shoulder), which meant the game plan had to be reduced.
Snee and Seubert are due back this week, and the Giants have most of their tight ends back, too. They have played short-handed most of training camp with Kevin Boss (hamstring), Travis Beckum (hamstring) and Scott Chandler (hip) bothered by injuries.
"It is good that everybody is getting healthy," Manning said before practice. "It is something that happens in training camp. If there is a time to get everybody back, this is the time you want everybody back when you are getting close to the start of the season, it's the third preseason game. We got a long week, a full week between games, looking forward to a great week of practice and getting everybody back healthy."
Manning said he didn't know how long he will play against Baltimore.
"Whatever Coach Coughlin wants to do and what he thinks, I know I'm playing," Manning said. "How long I play, I will leave that up to the head coach."
In other Giants injury news, wide receiver Ramses Barden has a stress fracture of a transverse process in his lower back, and cornerback Aaron Ross is dealing with plantar fasciitis, according to the team.
Barden has had a lower back issue since before the preseason opener against the Jets. He started that game and has not played or practiced since. He will not play Saturday.
Ross played last Saturday against the Steelers and did well on a punt return. He might be questionable for Saturday's game.
The team also announced backup safety Michael Johnson's back injury involves a disc issue. He is not expected to play Saturday.
Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.