Ike likes Big Apple

Similar to fellow free agent Luke Petitgout, WR Ike Hilliard said he never had any intention or desire to leave New York. That's why, like Petitgout, he didn't make any free agent trips and then re-signed with the Giants. Hilliard's decision was a bit more surprising considering some of the run-ins he's had with the organization, especially Head Coach Jim Fassel, and the fact that Steve Spurrier in Washington couldn't wait to get his hands on the shifty flanker.

"This is where I wanted to be from the start," Hilliard said. "Regardless of what's happened in the past."

"I'm excited about having Ike back," Fassel said. "Ike is a gamer. He is a true player. He makes plays when you need them to be made in the game.

"He's a guy that's meant a lot to this organization. He's made a lot of plays. And he's going to get great opportunities next year to make them."

Hilliard has 259 career receptions, placing him ninth on the Giants career list. He has 3,585 receiving yards (a 13.8-yard average) and 21 touchdowns.

Hilliard's '02 season was cut short when he suffered a dislocated shoulder on a vicious hit by Eagles safety Brian Dawkins in a Monday night game at Philadelphia on Oct. 28. The injury required surgery, and Hilliard was placed on injured reserve.

Hilliard, who began catching passes last week, said he is "very, very close to 100 percent" recovered.

"I saw [the doctor] this morning and he's thrilled with how things are going," Hilliard said. "I'm feeling good."

Fassel said he expects Hilliard to fully recover from last year's injury.

"He's coming along," Fassel said. "He shouldn't have any problems. He should be ready to go 100 percent and hopefully he'll have the best year he's ever had in the National Football League. If he's at all questionable (for the May mini-camp) I won't do anything with him.

"Ike is as tough as they come. I just love his attitude, the way he loves to play the game of football. I've said it many times, that he's on the top of the list of guys that love to play football."

Hilliard said another factor in his re-signing with Big Blue is that he believes the club is poised to make another Super Bowl run.

"We're possibly close to getting the big one and I want that taste again," he said.


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The Giants preseason home opener against the Carolina Panthers has been moved to Friday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. It was originally scheduled for Saturday the 16th.

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