Disgruntled New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora hit the practice field Monday for the first time this abbreviated preseason, still unhappy over his contract but ready to join his team mates on the gridiron.
Umenyiora, a two-time Pro Bowl player, has been in training camp since last month but spent most of his time on a stationary bike, declining to take the practice field because he felt the team reneged on a promise to rework the contract paying him $7.1 million over the next two years.
The 29-year-old Umenyiora did not address reporters following Monday's practice, but his coach and team mates were happy to see the pass-rushing defensive end back on the field.
"It was spirited and I thought the practice was very good," coach Tom Coughlin told reporters. "He jumped right in there and tries to beat the ball like he normally does. It was good to see.
"He was very competitive."
Coughlin said it was possible Umenyiora, who also has had concerns over a knee injury, might see some playing time in their preseason game Monday against the Chicago Bears and that he hoped the episode was behind them.
"I hope so and that's all I am going on," said Coughlin. "He is here and he wants to work. He wants to be a part of the team and we certainly want him to be."
Umenyiora worked out with the first-team defense, splitting snaps at right end with young Jason Pierre-Paul, last year's first-round draft pick who had two sacks and three tackles in a 20-10 preseason loss against the Carolina Panthers.
Fellow defensive lineman Justin Tuck said having Umenyiora back made the Giants better.
"Having the quality defensive ends we have, all of us make each other better," said defensive captain Tuck.
"With him on the football field on Sundays, it makes it very difficult (for opponents to block). You've kind of got to pick and choose. Then you throw JPP (Pierre-Paul) in the mix, it really gives us a lot of freedom to do a lot of different things. So yeah, we definitely make each other better."
Giants quarterback Eli Manning said getting past an internal controversy could only help.
"It is always good to have all your guys and everybody is practicing and back," said Manning. "If you can eliminate distractions, that is always a positive."