- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith fell during practice going after a ball, landed in a way that impacted his injured pectoral muscle, but was able to get up and said he felt fine, ready to play on Sunday.
If he plays -- and Tom Coughlin was not ready to commit that Smith would play before evaluating him -- he will wear a harness to protect his chest.
"It keeps you from stretching back too much or stretching for the ball too high," Smith said. "Hopefully Eli will keep it within my arm radius."
Smith isn't the only Giant who could play against the Vikings this Sunday after missing a few games. Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks said that, despite the fact that half the stitches remain from a surgery to fix compartment syndrome in his leg, he wants to play.
"Each game means something at this point, so missing games doesn't sit well with me," Nicks said.
The Giants are moving up their Saturday flight to Minnesota by three hours in order to avoid a forecast featuring a winter storm warning and 18 degree daytime temperatures. On Sunday, the high is a projected two degrees.
The offensive line will get David Diehl back at left tackle, replacing substitute William Beatty. Rich Seubert will likely continue to play center, as Shaun O'Hara is still listed as doubtful. Shawn Andrews, who played left tackle against Philadelphia, is out but said he hopes to start practicing again next week.
Coughlin said he believed Andrews, whose back pain forced him to go to the emergency room two weeks ago, would play again before the end of the season.
"It's normal right now to have change with us this year," said Kevin Boothe, filling in for Seubert at left guard. "Other years those guys played every snap. ... So far we've handled it pretty well."
Coughlin admitted there was a danger in taking out guys, like wide receiver Derek Hagan, who have played well while filling in, to replace them with starters who haven't played in a while. He addressed how he might know with the offensive line.
"Hopefully the continuity part has been built up throughout the course of the week and that the quarterback is comfortable," Coughlin said. "For us, what we've had to see is that now that they've been out for a while, are they going to be able to come back and how soon is it that they'll really fit in to everything that they want to do and to what extent are they not where they were when they left? Those are the questions that we've got to deal with."
Doctors will examine Smith and Nicks tomorrow, and Coughlin will make his final decision on who starts -- balancing continuity and skill --after that.
Jane McManus is a reporter and columnist for ESPNNewYork.com.
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