NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, December 3, 2015, 5:21 PM
Giants offensive guard Justin Pugh is finally back after missing three weeks with concussion.
For three frustrating weeks, Justin Pugh heard the backlash as he sat out practice after practice while dealing with the first concussion of his football career. And now that the Giants’ offensive guard is back, he wants everyone to know that nobody had any right to label him “soft.”
“It pissed me off,” Pugh said Thursday. “There’s no one who wants to be out there more than I do . . . I understand from the fan’s perspective: They want us out there. (But) you don’t want to be labeled as a soft player. That’s a personal attack on me.”
Pugh practiced for a second straight day on Thursday. It was his first full practice session since Nov. 15, when the lineman sat out a loss to New England because of a mysterious “illness.” That came after a week in which he’d missed practices due to dehydration, and after that the Giants finally placed Pugh in the concussion protocol.
All signs point to him returning to action against the Jets, but it wasn’t until last Friday, Pugh said, that his concussion symptoms finally dissipated. Ever since the Giants’ Nov. 9 win in Tampa, Pugh battled a strange fatigue, as well as pains he described as “a headache behind my eyes.” The entire experience scared him, but also pushed him to research and understand the mechanics of a concussion.
“It’s something that definitely woke me up,” he said. “I definitely want to make sure I give a voice to people that have them. Guys don’t look at it the right way; they’re like, if you get hit, you go out and play. Mine lasted three weeks and I was having bad headaches for three weeks . . . You’ve got to make sure you take care of your brain.”
Even if that costs you a chance to be on the field in a critical moment. Pugh had started 39 of the first 41 games of his career before telling the Giants he wasn’t ready to go on the morning of the Patriots loss.
“It obviously hurt then,” he said. “The first time I ever had to watch a game on TV.”
He’s healthy now, though, and he says his concussion shouldn’t be an issue going forward. Doctors told him that once his brain is fully healed, he’s at no greater risk for further concussions, he said. And he’s already proven to himself that he can still take a hit, having absorbed one in practice.
“As soon as I got that first hit (Thursday), I was good,” he said.
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With second-year linebacker Devon Kennard (hamstring/foot) likely to sit out Sunday, the Giants must find a new player to handle the radio helmet. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo didn’t give that away, although he did say the task would “probably” fall to Jonathan Casillas or Jasper Brinkley.
“We’ll pick the linebacker that’s going to be in the most packages and try to put it on them,” he said.
VACCHIANO: ELI ALL BUT CONTROLS GIANTS’ PLAYOFF FATE
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Ex-Giant DT Barry Cofield worked out for the team, according to a source . . . S Brandon Meriweather (knee) did not practice for a second straight day, which could mean Cooper Taylor will be active Sunday . . . OL Marshall Newhouse (back) and TE Larry Donnell (neck) also sat out . . . C Weston Richburg (ankle) and DE Robert Ayers (toe) were limited.