Nicks, who met with the media before practice, declined to provide a reason for his absence from the OTAs.
"I'm here now and that's all I'm going to talk about," he said. "I'm not really going to go back. It's in the past already."
But the fifth-year receiver, who last spring broke his foot during an OTA practice in what was the first of multiple injuries that plagued him all last season and which led to career lows in receiving yards (692) and touchdowns (three), did admit that last year was still very much fresh in his mind, especially with him entering the final year of his rookie contract this season.
Nicks, who said he explained his position to general manager Jerry Reese, said he regretted causing angst for head coach Tom Coughlin, who at the start of OTAs, expressed disappointment in having not heard from his star receiver regarding his absence from the voluntary OTAs.
"I feel where he was coming from," said Nicks. "I could have done a better job reaching out, but we finally did get to talk, and we got things straightened out. Coach Coughlin, that's my guy, so I don't think that relationship can go sour."
With Nicks on board for the foreseeable future, attention turned to what it might take to convince his teammate, Victor Cruz, to resolve his ongoing contract situation.
"That's his situation," Nicks said. "I talked to Cruz. He's doing good. His mind is in the right spot. He understands the business side of it. He understands the game as well, but he still loves this team and he still wants to be here."
Nicks also stressed that his contract did not have anything to do with his decision to spend the last few weeks working out on his own in North Carolina, and said that he had no plans of holding out of training camp when the team reports back to the facility on July 26.
He is focused on reacquainting himself with his teammates and to gradually begin working himself back into football shape, ready to rebound from last year's disappointing showing.
"My whole expectation is to be full go by training camp," he said, adding that because he's so familiar with the offense, he wasn't concerned with getting caught up with the mental aspect of things. "That is still the mindset and I'm sure I'll be full-go by (training camp."
By showing up for the camp, Nicks, who came in early Tuesday morning to take his physical, will avoid daily fines that would have amounted to $66,150 had he continued to stay away.
Perhaps no other time of year offers as big of an opportunity for a young player to show the coaches he's ready for a larger role. And that's precisely what Giants second-year wide receiver Rueben Randle has done.
Randle received additional snaps in the OTAs and the recently concluded three-day mandatory minicamp, thanks to the absences of teammates Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said he really likes what he's seen from Randle this spring.
"You see a guy emerge who last year showed flashes and always caught the ball well," Gilbride said. "Maybe (he) didn't always run the routes as precisely, (or) as crisply as you want, or have quite the understanding you wanted—now he looks like a guy who's been here five or six years."
One of the biggest things that has jumped out at Gilbride is Randle's willingness to assume a leadership position.
"His whole demeanor, his whole professionalism is outstanding," Gilbride said. "He's certainly stepped into a leadership role. Not only did he grow, he kind of became the (leader) of the receiving corps. He was first in line and did all those things. That wasn't what we saw last year, not by a long shot. So to see him grow like that was a great step for him."
The growth of Randle, who was the Giants' second round draft pick in 2012, is especially reassuring given the continued uncertainty surrounding Cruz's contract negotiations.
Regardless of what happens with Cruz, Gilbride said Randle has earned playing time.
"Oh he's going to play," Gilbride said. "He's going to play a lot. He'll play on first, second down, he'll be an outside receiver for us, and whether he's at the X or the Z, he's going to play. He's looking like he deserves to be out there with significant time."
Gilbride also didn't rule out having Randle line up in Cruz's slot position if Cruz's contract situation extends into the summer.
"Unless something disastrous happens, he's earned the right (to play)," Gilbride said. "He looks pretty good right now."
Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas, attempting to come back from a third ACL surgery, said he has no doubt in his ability to complete what's been a long journey for him physically and emotionally.
"I'm able to do everything," he said. "It's more just about getting comfortable and trusting myself without hesitating, without thinking, and just reacting. I'm almost there.
"Physically, I haven't swelled up in the last four months and I've been progressing every week, and each week I get better and faster and stronger. So it's just a progression. I have to be realistic with myself knowing that I had two ACLs in one year and it's a long journey, but I'll be back and I'm going to shock a lot of people."
Thomas also keeps an open mind regarding where he lines up if he makes it back.
"I'm whatever they need me to be," he said. "I just want to play football. At this point in my career, it's all about getting healthy and getting on the field and contributing in any way and if that's a leadership role, that's a safety role, nickel, corner, kickoff, whatever; I'll do whatever I've got to do."
Running back Andre Brown, projected to be the team's No. 2 two back behind David Wilson, credited former teammate Ahmad Bradshaw—now with the Indianapolis Colts—for having a positive influence on him last season. Now that he's the most seasoned running back in the room in terms of NFL experience, Brown is hoping to fill the leadership void.
"Being around Ahmad early in my career, speaking up as a leader, and now as me being more of a vocal leader is kind of like—because those guys did most of the talking leadership wise and they carried the leadership of the room. I'm the oldest guy in the room now, and it's like I've got to become more of a vocal leader and make sure the young boys know."
As one of his first leadership tasks, Brown said he's taken seventh-round draft pick Michael Cox under his wing to help the rookie in familiarizing himself with the playbook.
"Michael knows the plays and the protections and I go over it with him and making sure he knows the steps and stuff like that," he said. "I guess I'm finally mature enough where I can step into that role and be a very effective leader."
First round draft pick Justin Pugh, who isn't yet signed, said the holdup has been over guaranteed money. Still, the offensive lineman remained optimistic about being present for the start of training camp.
"I'm not missing any training camp. No way," he said.
Coach Tom Coughlin was asked if offensive linemen Chris Snee and David Baas, both of whom are recovering from offseason surgeries, would be ready for training camp.
"That's what I'm told, that they will be ready to go," he said. "I'm sure there will be some limitations. It won't be like what it is here. They'll be able to work."
Coughlin said fullback Henry Hynoski, who is recovering from knee surgery, is doing well, and has received daily treatment. But the coach couldn't give an estimated guess as to when he might have his starting fullback back, other than to express hope that Hynoski can meet the goal of being ready for the start of the season.
"I hope so, just like I hope for Jason Pierre-Paul," he said, naming his sidelined defensive end.
Coughlin said Pierre-Paul is back in New Jersey after undergoing successful back surgery in Los Angeles.
"He's in the process of getting to the point where he can do some things and I know that probably for the first three or four weeks he's not going to be doing much," Coughlin said.
Coughlin praised third-year linebacker Mark Herzlich for his spring performance, saying that Herzlich has stepped up his efforts as a leader.
"He's a smart guy (and) he's verbal," Coughlin said. "I'm not surprised. It's a good thing. He enunciates well. People understand what he says."
Herzlich is competing with Dan Connor, who signed in the offseason, for the starting middle linebacker job, which became available when Chase Blackburn signed with the Carolina Panthers.
Herzlich has looked sharp, making better reads and taking better angles. At one point, Coughlin noted that the former Boston College standout and cancer survivor put together a string of consecutive days in which he had at least one takeaway.
"It might be one step forward and two back. They're getting there though. It's a good impressive group right now."—Head coach Tom Coughlin on the progress made by the rookie draft class.
(not tendered offers)
TE Travis Beckum (not tendered as UFA).
DT Rocky Bernard (not tendered as UFA).
CB Bruce Johnson (not tendered as UFA).
OT Sean Locklear (not tendered as UFA).
RB Kregg Lumpkin (not tendered as UFA).
CB Justin Tryon (not tendered as UFA).
K Lawrence Tynes (not tendered as UFA).
CB Brian Witherspoon (not tendered as UFA).
DT Johnathan Hankins (2/49): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
DE Damontre Moore (3/81): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
S Cooper Taylor (5/152): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
G Eric Herman (7/225): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
RB Michael Cox (7/253): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
WR Ramses Barden: UFA; $780,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
T Will Beatty: Potential UFA: $38.75M/5 yrs, $12.5M SB/$19M guaranteed.
G Kevin Boothe: UFA; $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
RB Andre Brown: RFA tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation; $2.023M/1 yr.
S Stevie Brown: RFA (tendered at $2.023M with second-round pick as compensation); $2.023M/1 yr.
QB David Carr: UFA; $1.005M/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
C Jim Cordle: ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR Victor Cruz: RFA tendered at $2.879M with first-round pick as compensation); $2.879M/1 yr.
TE Bear Pascoe: Potential RFA; $900,000/1 yr, $185,000 SB.
LB Keith Rivers: UFA; $715,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
DT Shaun Rogers: Potential UFA; $1.005M/1 yr, $20,000 SB.
RB Ryan Torain: Not tendered as RFA; $715,000/1 yr.
DE Adrian Tracy: ERFA; terms unknown.
DE Justin Trattou: Potential ERFA; $555,000/1 yr.
K Josh Brown: UFA Bengals; $940,000 base/1 yr.
K David Buehler: FA; $630,000/1 yr.
LB Dan Connor: FA Cowboys; $715,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
LB Aaron Curry: FA; terms unknown.
LB Kyle Bosworth: Not tendered as RFA by Jaguars; terms unknown.
DT Cullen Jenkins: FA Eagles; $8M/3 yrs, $2M SB/$3M guaranteed.
CB Trumaine McBride: FA; $630,000/1 yr.
S Ryan Mundy: UFA Steelers; $715,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
WR Louis Murphy: UFA Panthers; $715,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
TE Brandon Myers: UFA Raiders; $14.25/4 yrs, $1.5M SB (final three years at $12M voids).
DT Frank Okam: FA; terms unknown.
QB Curtis Painter: FA; $630,000/1 yr.
TE Michael Palmer: Not tendered as RFA by Falcons; terms unknown.
DT Mike Patterson: FA Eagles; $905,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
CB Aaron Ross: FA Jaguars; $715,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.
LB Aaron Curry: Raiders (released 2012); terms unknown.
TE Martellus Bennett: UFA Bears; $20M/4 yrs, $4.5M SB/$9M guaranteed.
LB Chase Blackburn: UFA Panthers; terms unknown.
LB Michael Boley (released).
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (released/failed physical).
DT Chris Canty (released).
WR Domenik Hixon: UFA Panthers; $1.2M/1 yr, $250,000 SB.
DT Martin Parker (released).
S Kenny Phillips: UFA Eagles; $2M/1 yr, $1M RB.
DE Osi Umenyiora: UFA Falcons; $8.5M/3 yrs, $2.5M SB/$5M guaranteed.