Justin Tuck questionable for preseason opener

On the eve of the New York Giants preseason opener, defensive end Justin Tuck is eager to return to the field, but his health is still a major question mark.

While Justin Tuck is going to force the issue with his tight back this week, he ensured reporters outside the Timex Performance Center today that he is excited about the prospect of playing in New York's first preseason game this Saturday in Pittsburgh.

"Sure I do. Why wouldn't I?" said Tuck when asked if he wanted to play on Saturday. "That's what I do. I play in football games."

Still, Tuck isn't sure if he's going to be on the field this Saturday. He was held out of practice on Thursday, and Tuck's eagerness to play could get overridden by the Giants' need to be careful with him.

"As an athlete, you want to play, you want to get out there," Tuck explained. "Sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes you can go out there and hurt yourself and turn a small problem into a big problem. That's obviously what we don't want to do right now, but I don't think this is something that's going to be much more of an issue after this week."

Even if Tuck is held out of action this weekend, he's confident that the Giants have established the mindset needed to have a successful season.

"We have a certain aura around us as a team," said Tuck, "A lot of guys are conscious about what we want our identity to be. A lot of guys have verbalized it, and continue to verbalize it. Guys are focused and every time we get a chance to get on this football field, it's something we need to take advantage of. You don't see a lot of wasted reps. You don't see a lot of wasted time. I think that's really going to help this football team, because the sense of urgency to be a good defensive team is now."

It should be urgent, because the Giants were mediocre as a defense last season, ranking fifth-worst in the league in yards allowed per run play and third-worst in yards allowed per pass attempt. The first preseason game is a chance for the Giants to show their fans that they are serious about improving a unit that has been so important to successful Giants teams of the past.

"I think everyone's excited because we haven't played football in so long," said Tuck about the preseason opener. "Anytime you get the opportunity to hit another color, it's always a good thing. The first game is always the most exciting because that's you first taste of hitting somebody that's not your friend."

In Pittsburgh, the Giants will face off against another historic franchise that's eager to show that it is ready to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 campaign.

"I don't know if it has a different feel than any other first preseason game that we've played, but it's exciting, and guys are looking forward to playing against a team like Pittsburgh, because you one thing from them: They're going to be tough, they're going to hit you in the mouth, and it's going to be a good test for us."

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