Spotlight on ... Hakeem Nicks

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New York Giants' wide receiver Hakeem Nicks believes he is healthier now than he has been all season, which is a good sign for the Giants' offense.

The 2012 season did not start off as planned for New York Giants's star wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.

Nicks suffered a broken foot back in May and needed surgery. He missed most of the offseason and was sidelined for most of training camp. He was able to start the season on time, but Week 1 he didn't look quite ready. Nicks did not stand out in the first game against the Dallas Cowboys, only catching four passes for 38 yards.

"It was the first game. I was coming back from the foot surgery and trying to play it out, see how my foot was," said Nicks. "[Dallas] came out and they played hard."

Week 2 was his first big game, making 10 receptions for 199 yards and a touchdown and he was awarded Offensive Player of the Week.

Week 3, however was a short one due to a Thursday night game against the Carolina Panthers, but there was no worry or panic as Nicks' foot just didn't have enough time to recover ... or so we thought.

Nicks' health concern turned out to be bigger than just recovering a sore foot. The following week we learned that Nicks was going through a knee injury and had to miss the following game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He also missed the week after against the Cleveland Browns.

When Nicks is healthy, there are many things he can do better for this offense like stretching the field and running after the catch, but with the knee issue it became much more difficult. It resulted to limiting his practice time and keeping him out of games.

"Dealing with the knee, my burst wasn't there," said Nicks. "I couldn't really separate in my routes and then with the foot, trying to get in and out of my breaks fast ... It was just having to feel it out."

Now entering Week 8, Nicks seems healthy and fully participated in practices for two weeks in a row. Quarterback Eli Manning knows that Nicks' presence is important for the rest of the wide receiver core, whether it's in practice or in a game. Manning explains that Nicks being back brings a bigger threat to opponents and it's good to see that he's slowly getting back to his old self.

"That's what we need. We need him to be his old, dominant self," said Manning. "That one-on-one coverage, he's beating everybody, he's making plays. He's confident running full speed, stopping, breaking, and cutting. Hopefully, it'll get back real soon. I know he wants to get back there, he's working hard, he wants to be back to his old self and feel that he can do everything that he normally can."

Nicks himself is satisfied with the way he's progressed the last couple of weeks. As his knee is healing, his confidence is growing. He's starting to feel like himself again.

"I'm a lot healthier now, especially over the last couple of weeks," said Nicks. "I finally feel like I finally got over the little hump. the last game, I feel like it broke me in a little bit more. first it was the foot and then the knee. I feel like I got back to myself a little bit. I feel like I'm getting in and out of my routes and having that full confidence back, so I think it will be a great week for me."

Coach Tom Coughlin is is also satisfied with Nicks' progress. He's even more happy about the fact that Nicks is happy.

"To see him smile and get out there and go to work and have some burst and practice three days in a row is a good thing," said Coughlin.

The Giants face the Cowboys for their second matchup this week down in Dallas. Nicks is ooking forward to this game.

"Personally, I like playing in [Cowboys] Stadium. I just do, I don't know what it is. It just seems like it's a big stage to play on. I love big stage games, so I look forward to playing every game, but that game, being that it's a rivalry and Dallas and New York, so it's always a big game."

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