<
>

Shaun O'Hara: Workouts 'invaluable'

ORADELL, N.J. -- They might not have started five minutes early every day like coach Tom Coughlin would've mandated.

But the New York Giants' weeklong, player-organized workouts came to a successful end on Friday.

No one got hurt.

"Our number one priority was safety," center Shaun O'Hara said at the conclusion of the workout at Bergen Catholic High School (N.J.). "It's great to just kind of get football back on the brain. We have a very veteran group and the veterans were able to teach some of the younger guys, I think that is invaluable. It is great to refresh our offense, we had some defensive guys come out, that was great. For all of us, it was a good week's worth of work."

The Giants had 27 players show up for the last day as veterans like quarterback Eli Manning, guard Chris Snee, wide receiver Domenik Hixon and tackle David Diehl worked on their technique and some offensive plays.

Earlier this week, 39 players showed up on Tuesday in what was the largest player-organized workout by the Giants this offseason.

For the most part, the Giants have been working out on their own. Many players are scattered around the country during the offseason. Others chose not to risk injury during the lockout when teams are not covering players during the labor strife.

"There are a lot of guys that weren't here that wanted to be here but had prior commitments," O'Hara said. "There were some guys that said, 'Look, I'm not under contract, I'm not going to come out.' And you know what? I don't blame them. That is a scary situation, you are talking about a career, I would hate for somebody to risk a week's worth of practice for a career. That is not worth it in my eyes."

Conditions were much more tolerable on Friday when temperatures cooled off. On Wednesday and Thursday, the Giants players practiced in the sun during a heat wave that saw temperatures soar to the mid-90's.

O'Hara said the Giants had a physical trainer and Bergen Catholic High School's medical trainer on the field to make sure players maintained safety to avoid any injuries.

While some defensive players, like end Mathias Kiwanuka, who will be either a restricted or unrestricted free agent this season, showed up this week, the workouts mostly benefited the offensive players and rookies. Manning and his receivers were able to go over some plays, work on passing drills, timing and some two-minute drills.

Meanwhile, rookies like linebacker Greg Jones, cornerback Prince Amukamara, wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan and tackle James Brewer gained invaluable access to veteran players during a time when they have not been allowed to have any contact with teams.

Deprived of a playbook, rookie camp and team offseason training activities, the rookies leaned on veterans for their knowledge of schemes and advice on technique.

"These workouts were more mental than they were physical," O'Hara said. "It was more about getting football on the brain, kind of dusting off some of the play-calling."

It has also been hard for players coming off injuries. Hixon tore his ACL almost a year ago and was looking forward to the offseason workouts and a minicamp to get the reps he missed out on last year while injured.

Hixon said he is fully recovered and has been trying to work on punt returns in his offseason home in Ohio.

This week, he was able to field punt and kickoff returns from Giants punter Matt Dodge and kicker Lawrence Tynes.

"I've been catching punts from anybody who will kick it to me," Hixon said. "I have a young man who just graduated high school in Columbus, a real good punter, I am catching punts from him every day."

The biggest message O'Hara wanted to send to his teammates was to stay in shape. He has told Giants players to train as if they will report to training camp around July 27.

The Giants have no further plans to organize any more workouts for now.

While there were a few like O'Hara, guard Rich Seubert and Ramses Barden who were limited on the field since they are coming off offseason surgeries, the Giants looked as if they are in shape.

"I am working just as hard as I normally do," Snee said. "Looks like everyone else is too. We have done conditioning a couple of days and guys appear to be in shape. Our team is taking necessary steps to be ready."

O'Hara hopes there will be an agreement made soon to resume football.

"Personally, I didn't think we would get this far," O'Hara said of the lockout lasting until June. "I thought there would be some give from both sides really to get it done."

"As players we are really in limbo. It is really toughest on us because we are going to have to be the ones that have to go out there and show up whenever this deal gets done. We have to be ready to go. We are going to be the ones that are suffering injuries if we are short on training camp and have to come in late so it is important that we are in shape and ready to go."

Ohm Youngmisuk covers the Giants for ESPNNewYork.com.