Prince back at work, hopes to play Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara returned to practice on Monday and hopes to play against Tampa Bay on Sunday.

It is the first time Amukamara has practiced since suffering a high ankle sprain in a preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Aug. 24.

The cornerback did light running on Sunday before going through practice and running and backpedaling on Monday. At first he seemed a bit stiff but as practice went on, he was moving fine during the early portion of practice that is open to the media.

“I did everything today besides special teams,” Amukamara said. “I went out there to see what I could do and see if I had any limitations. I didn’t aggravate it today. I feel like I am still not running how I used to but I still feel good out there.”

Tom Coughlin said the team needs to see how Amukamara’s ankle reacts on Tuesday morning but the cornerback’s return is a very good sign for the Giants, who have been hit hard by injuries to the cornerback position.

Cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee) is on the season-ending injured reserve. With Amukamara out, Michael Coe started but injured his hamstring during the Giants’ 24-17 loss to the Cowboys last Wednesday.

Coe said he ran at about “75-80 percent” on Monday and hopes to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. The Giants were also without safety Kenny Phillips on Monday. Phillips hurt his back during the season-opening loss but Coughlin expects Phillips to practice on Wednesday.

Linebacker Keith Rivers (hamstring) also sat out practice but Coughlin is hopeful that Rivers will be able to play against Tampa Bay.

The Giants also may have defensive tackle Marvin Austin back on Sunday. Austin has been sidelined by a back injury but he practiced on Monday and is hoping to be cleared this week to play in his first NFL game after missing all of his rookie season due to injury.

If Amukamara and Austin play, the Giants will have their first two draft picks from last year on the field together in a regular season game for the first time.

“I am very optimistic,” Amukamara said of playing on Sunday. “Today wasn’t really like a high level practice but it was high in intensity and high in speed.”

“I’m a little sore now,” he added. “But I know that pain will go away.”