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Coughlin excuses LB Pierce from practice for personal reasons

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Middle linebacker Antonio Pierce missed the New York Giants' practice Monday for personal reasons.

Coach Tom Coughlin said afterward that Pierce was excused from the roughly one-hour workout. He refused to disclose the reason for Pierce's absence.

Pierce was not immediately available for comment.

The Giants open the regular season Sunday at home against Washington. Pierce played for the Redskins before signing with New York in 2005, and he said on Twitter over the weekend that he considered playing them like an annual Super Bowl.

Pierce has led the Giants in tackles for the last three seasons. He has missed only four regular-season games in his four years with the club.

Pierce recently missed the second and third preseason games with a foot injury, but he returned to action Thursday, playing the first two series in the preseason finale against the New England Patriots.

Pierce spent much of the last 10 months in the spotlight after helping former teammate Plaxico Burress when the wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the thigh in a New York City nightclub in late November.

Pierce drove Burress to the hospital and then took the gun that Burress used back to his home in New Jersey, later arranging to get it back to the wounded receiver's home.

It was what any friend would do for another, Pierce said weeks ago in defending his actions. He also expressed no regret for helping Burress after a Manhattan grand jury decided not to indict him on charges of carrying Burress' unlicensed firearm in the aftermath of the shooting.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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