Giants enjoy 'recovery days' aimed at injury prevention

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On the final official day of training camp, the New York Giants did not practice.

After two hard practice days in a row, coach Tom Coughlin established Thursday as a "recovery day" on which players could choose two from a list that included yoga, massage, pressure boot therapy and other activities aimed at keeping them healthy. Coughlin said Friday would be a similar day, though they would hold some sort of walk-through in advance of Saturday's preseason game against the Jets, and that if he gets the right kind of feedback he could incorporate this into the Giants' weekly regular-season routine.

If you don't think that sounds like Coughlin, you're not alone.

"Very surprised," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "But I think injuries may have something to do with it. Injuries have been huge here the last couple of years, so we're all trying to do stuff to prevent that."

The idea seems to have been fully embraced by the players, as you might expect. "Everybody was racing to the spots," running back Rashad Jennings said. But a few of them also said they are going to have to play at a high level -- and with a high level of energy -- Saturday night if they want to keep this idea alive as a possibility for the regular season. Coughlin is open-minded to it, though. Like everyone else in the Giants' building, he wants to know what, if anything, can be done to keep the Giants from being the league's most injury-riddled team for a third year in a row.

"It's a unique kind of a day, and I'm interested in the feedback I get from our leadership council and from the coaches," Coughlin said.

The Giants have made several health-related changes to their program over the past two offseasons. Last year, they overhauled the selections in their cafeteria to make them more healthy -- eliminating things like gummi bears from the topping selections near the frozen yogurt machine and focusing on specific nutritional elements depending on the player and the day. The past two years, they have used GPS monitors in players' practice jerseys to monitor activity. The data they get from those monitors gets relayed to a laptop that's monitored by a Giants staffer who can then reach out to coaches and trainers to tell them whether a player might need to come out of practice or ease up based on the way he's moving.

But the rest days are another part of the program, and they're being presented to the players as a means of keeping themselves healthy, reducing injury risk and optimizing performance.

"It's important, and guys are taking it seriously," Jennings said. "This isn't a spa day. I hope it's not coming across like that."

Whether any of this stuff ends up working could go a long way toward determining whether the Giants can avoid a third straight losing season. According to Football Outsiders, the Giants have lost by far the most games by starters due to injury of any team in the league. They have gone 13-19 over those two seasons.