Smith Inching Forward

Rookie receiver Steve Smith, who has missed the last four games with a shoulder injury, continues to have his workload increased, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin isn't prepared to say if the rookie will play against San Francisco.

"We'll have to see," Coughlin said. "That was the idea – to bring him in this week and give him more and see how he was handling that. We'll have to go by how he feels."...

Elsewhere on the injury front, running backs Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward, both nursing sore ankles, practiced on a limited basis today, as did Smith. Plaxico Burress is the only Giant who did not practice...

For San Francisco, safety Keith Lewis (hamstring) and linebacker Hannibal Navies (knee) did not practice. Alex Smith (shoulder), linebacker Tully Banta-Cain (ankle), tight end Vernon Davis (knee) and safety Michael Lewis (Achilles) all practiced on a limited basis...

The Giants expect Alex Smith to start at quarterback for the 49ers. Smith, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2005 draft, separated his shoulder early in the Seattle game on Sept. 30 and did not play in the Niners' most recent game, Oct. 7 vs. Baltimore. Smith was replaced by Trent Dilfer, who beat the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV playing for the Ravens.

"We will prepare for both quarterbacks," Coughlin said. "But I think that from what I can tell from our people that it sounds like Smith will play."

If he does, the quarterback matchup will feature the No. 1 choice in the 2004 draft (Manning) vs. the top selection in 2005 (Smith).


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