Growing up as a young athlete, our coaches always said the phrase, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” While that is not always true, I do know the meaning of the phrase.
Sure, a start that is bad enough can be damaging enough. However, in most cases, a strong finish can take a team or player very far. It’s about finishing that driving layup strong. Finishing the season on a long winning streak and carrying the momentum into the playoffs.
When the game or season is on the line, which team will finish the strongest?
The New York Giants are in position to finish the regular season strong. Players are starting to get healthy and return to action. As early as this week, Tom Coughlin could see some of his players back on the field and participating in a game.
Wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, whom are extremely important to the Giants balanced offense, could both play this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. That would be a welcome addition to a Giants offense that has had to rely on the run game and short passing the past few weeks.
Nicks and Smith could bring a return to the deep passing attack from quarterback Eli Manning. It will also help the Giants return to the balanced game plan they showed at the start of the 2010 season.
Half of the stitches were removed from the leg of Nicks on Wednesday and he will have his final examination of the week on Saturday. If all checks out ok, expect Nicks to play on Sunday, a week earlier than anticipated.
Smith, recovering from a pectoral injury is also “on track” to return according to Coughlin.
Other players dealing with injuries – Osi Umenyiora, Brian Jackson, and Shaun O’Hara – were limited but did return to practice. Ahmad Bradshaw and kick returner Will Blackmon practiced in full. The only Giants player unable to practice was offensive lineman Shawn Andrews who is dealing with a back injury.
Health will play a big role in how the Giants finish the season. Currently, New York sits in a tie atop the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles. Each team has four games remaining, including one next week against each other. Inlcuding this weeks games, the Giants have Minnesota, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Washington left on the schedule. The Eagles play Dallas twice, Minnesota, and the Giants.
“It’s how you finish.” The way the Giants finish the season will go a long way in showing whether or not this is a team that can challenge for a Super Bowl berth. Being healthy is the first step, now they need results on the field. It starts this Sunday in Minnesota.