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Hakeem Nicks motivated for big year with N.Y. Giants

This is a big year for Hakeem Nicks.

The New York Giants' wide receiver has the potential to clean up in free agency next March. But first, Nicks must prove that he's the same playmaker he was before foot and knee injuries derailed his 2012 season.

Nicks made his preseason debut Sunday night, finishing with a pair of 20-yard receptions in limited duty. Slowed by a groin injury this summer, Nicks moved with some tentativeness. In a phone conversation with Around The League, we asked Nicks if it was accurate to say he was playing at less than full speed.

"Yeah that's accurate," said Nicks, who handed out snow cones on Monday in New York as part of a Super Bowl walk-up event sponsored by MetLife. "That's my first preseason game, just trying to get in that groove to build myself up for Week 1."

Nicks said his groin is now 100 percent. He said the injuries he's dealt with over the past 15 months have served as a "learning experience."

We asked Nicks about his contract status. It was widely speculated that he sat out organized team activities because he wanted a new deal. Instead, the Giants paid Victor Cruz.

"It's definitely motivation, but I'm a believer in I'm going to get whatever I can handle, so I don't even worry about that. It's going to take care of itself," he said. "I just need to stay healthy, play football, win games and contribute to the team in the best way possible."

And his response to detractors who say his recent injury history could hurt his ability to secure a long-term deal?

"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I believe you should be paid off of production, and that's what I'm aiming for. My production speaks for itself."

If Nicks plays like his old self, the Giants can be one of the top offenses in the NFC. It might also make the Giants regret not taking care of him sooner.

From Monday through Saturday, the MetLife Foundation will donate $25 to both the Jets' and Giants' team charities (up to $12,500 per team) for every tweet incorporating the hashtag #Road2MetLifeStadium.

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