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Nothjersey.com: Giants' coach: practice


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Friday, September 17, 2004



EAST RUTHERFORD - Linebacker Carlos Emmons says it's too early to tell whether he will play Sunday against the Washington Redskins. All he knew Thursday was he was not going to practice for a second straight day because of a groin injury suffered in the opener against Philadelphia.

"It's getting better, but I don't know whether I'll practice tomorrow," he added. "All I know is I can't be out there today."

Prior to the Eagles game, Giants' coach Tom Coughlin set Thursday as a deadline for cornerback Will Allen to get back on the practice field. Allen did practice and then played, although not very well.

"It's a case by case thing," Coughlin said Thursday when asked if Emmons was under the same deadline as Allen.

Yet one of Coughlin's many recurring themes has been the importance of staying healthy, and participating in practice.

"One of the statements I made, I think I told you people [the media] about it after the game and I told our team this right away," Coughlin said, "is that the overwhelming evidence is when you do not practice - you can fool yourself all you want - you're not going to play well.

"You need to practice. You need your mind to be right. You need your body to be right. You need to have reps. You need to be comfortable."

Those comments came after Allen had a long, long afternoon against the Eagles. What made things worse for Coughlin was the broken foot suffered in last Friday's practice by reserve corner Frank Walker. Without his backup, Allen had to play the entire game.

"Will Allen was ready to play and I'm sure that Will would have played," Coughlin said. "Would he have started and played to the extent that he did? That would have been something that we might have had the luxury of dealing with, but that wasn't the case."

Allen, to his credit, did not blame his lack of practice time for his performance. But it is obvious Coughlin thinks his play is critical to the development of his disappointing secondary, which was exploited all day by Donovan McNabb and the Eagles.

"I honestly think we were on track and then Allen hurt himself and didn't practice," he said of the knee injury the cornerback suffered in the Aug. 27 exhibition game against the Jets. The former first-round draft pick had been limited in training camp after undergoing off-season foot surgery.

"And I'm not just singling Will out," Coughlin said. "Look at the guys that had the majority of time missed and how they played."

Tight end Jeremy Shockey dropped a couple of passes. Emmons was not the force expected. Neither was linebacker Barrett Green, who conceded he did not play well against Philadelphia. All missed time in training camp. Shockey, in fact, had just a few days of practice before starting to work full time last week.

"You can write it down, it's just the way it is," Coughlin said. "It's very difficult to be at your very best and take advantage of your ability if you don't practice."

Which means rookie Reggie Torbor, who is working in Emmons' spot, could get his first NFL start Sunday against the Redskins. Torbor, the fourth-round draft pick from Auburn, replaced Emmons in Philadelphia after the veteran pulled a groin muscle trying to rip the ball out of the hands of tight end Chad Lewis.

"There was an initial nervousness," said Torbor, who entered the game with 9:43 left in the third quarter. "I just had to settle down and stop the adrenaline from flowing."

The 6-foot-2, 254-pound Torbor figures that adrenaline surge will be there again Sunday if he does get to start in Emmons' place. The one thing he will have going for him that he didn't have Sunday, however, will be the increased reps he has gotten this week in practice.

"That would be a big help," he said. "But what's even a bigger help is having Carlos there to help me out. He's been a big help to me during practice. He sees the game through a different view than the coaches."

Torbor says breaking into the NFL behind Emmons is a great situation for him. "I'll be ready to play, but it depends on how Carlos comes along," he said.

E-mail: ditrani@northjersey.com

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