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Giants take business mindset into finale

The SportsXchange

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It would be very easy for several members of the New York Giants to look past this weekend's regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins.

Who could blame them? Regardless of the game's outcome, the Giants will finish in third place in the NFC East and should, according to early projections, be slotted somewhere between the ninth and fifteenth spots in the 2014 draft order.

Still, don't expect very many of the players, including a couple of long-time veterans who could potentially be playing their final game as a member of the Giants, to be looking ahead to the offseason.

"I'm not thinking about long-term now (because) it isn't going to help me on Sunday," said offensive lineman David Diehl, who has been with the club since being chosen in the fifth round of the 2003 draft.

"What I'm doing is focusing on this one game, focusing on making sure that I'm healing myself up, getting ready to go, and getting ready to go out there and play like I always do."

Defensive end Justin Tuck is another player who has been with the Giants his entire career and who, like Diehl, is coming to the end of his contract with no indication from the club about a return engagement.

"It's interesting to think about it, but I'm all about finishing so we got we got a game to play and that's the focus," he said when asked if he reflected on what the future might hold for him.

It's really not surprising to hear Diehl and Tuck prefer to speak about the present and the upcoming game against the Redskins. Both are widely regarded as team leaders in the locker room, and as such, they've been passing down the message that head coach Tom Coughlin has been preaching right from the start, which is to play for the current week.

Coughlin refused to share any thoughts about which, if any, of his long-time veterans might have a place on the 2014 squad, saying, "I don't make those decisions, and I don't know that those decisions are made by the player yet either. That would be presumptuous of me."

Of the two, Tuck, who leads the team with 9.0 sacks this season, seems to be making a very strong case to return.

"I think he's played the run well, and I think he's much improved over a year ago," said defensive coordinator Perry Fewell about Tuck, the defense's co-captain. "I think he's played with greater edge and greater purpose. I'm very pleased with the things he's done for us."

Tuck agreed. "I think I did my part with the part I can control," he said. "Yeah I'd love to be back, that's obvious. We'll go down that avenue when we go down that avenue."

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the popular consensus, at least from the outside looking in, is that Diehl will not be back.

"Obviously there's a little thinking about that stuff, but most importantly, I'm thinking about practicing and approaching this game like a professional," Diehl said.

"We're looking to go in this game like any other week and close the season like we know we're capable of."

Diehl repeatedly refused to directly answer if he wanted to play beyond this season, but as he spoke, it was hard not to miss the appreciation and respect he has for his current circumstances.

"It's part of football. It's part of the game we love to play," he said. "You fight to get yourself back and do whatever you can because playing this game is truly special as is being in this locker room."

So what happens, then, if neither player gets a chance to be a part of the locker room going forward?

"I've got enough memories to soak in anyway," said Tuck. "Sure, I'll be a little teary-eyed after I walk off the field. Maybe. I doubt it, but maybe. I think that makes a better story if I say teary-eyed."

Diehl, meanwhile, will take solace in having given his all every week.

"We play for one another, we play for our team, we play for this organization, we play for the New York and New Jersey area," Diehl said. "It means a lot to be a Giant and I think each and every one of us feels that way."
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