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Giants Center Zeigler Ready to Play

September 27, 2002

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ For the first time since undergoing surgery on his right knee in January, New York Giants center Dusty Zeigler appears ready to suit up for a game.

Zeigler worked out Thursday without any apparent pain and there is a good chance the seven-year veteran will be active Sunday when the Giants (2-1) play the Cardinals (1-2) in Arizona.

The decision will be made either Friday or Saturday, coach Jim Fassel said.

``I feel like I am getting closer, honestly,″ Zeigler said. ``I feel like I am getting better. I can tell, and the coaches can tell, and the trainers can tell.″

While there is no doubt Zeigler is getting stronger, he is not ready to start.

Chris Bober, moved from tackle to center in training camp, will remain the starting center for the foreseeable future.

Zeigler had almost no contact during training camp, and he has only worked with the second team in recent weeks.

``I would like to practice with our offense first,″ Zeigler said when about the prospect of playing. ``I have been practicing with our scout team for the past three weeks. To get in and play a game, I would like to have some offense under my belt.″

That said, Zeigler would be ready to play in an emergency.

``I don’t think it’s as much mental as it is reliving the habits and making things second nature,″ Zeigler said. ``Where do you put your eyes? Where do you put your hands? Where are your feet going to be? It’s getting back in the flow of things. I feel after a few plays I would be right in the click again.″

While Bober has played well, the Giants could use Zeigler’s experience on the line, which has struggled getting the running game going.

New York is averaging 80 yards rushing, 23rd in the league. The Giants have scored only two touchdowns in 33 possessions, including only one in 10 trips inside their opponent’s 20-yard line.

``Dusty has been a very good player for us, a leader for us,″ quarterback Kerry Collins said. ``He’s a guy we know can be a big part of what we are doing offensively.″

This is the first major injury of Zeigler’s career. He had a knee injury in 1997, his second season with Buffalo, that caused him to miss three games.

He started every game over the next four years except one in 1999, which he missed because of the death of his mother.

Now he has missed all three this season.

Fassel indicated he wasn’t going to rush Zeigler back into the starting lineup. That would give Zeigler’s knee more time to heal, and it also would give Fassel more time to see what happens with the current line.

If Zeigler starts, Fassel would have to make another decision regarding his right tackle. Bober was the right tackle before being moved to center. However, Mike Rosenthal has played well there.

``These things tend to work themselves out,″ Fassel said.

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