TOM CANAVAN,AP Sports Writer
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — With the Giants’ preseason opener just days away, some New York players have concerns about the first game in their $1.6 billion stadium.
The problem isn’t the opponent — Rex Ryan and the Jets.
The issue is the FieldTurf at the New Meadowlands Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Receiver Domenik Hixon suffered a major knee injury in the Giants’ only workout on the field during minicamp in June, raising speculation about the surface. He was later waived-injured.
The Giants say they re-examined the field and are satisfied there is nothing wrong with it.
Some players remain wary heading into Monday night’s game against the Jets, the first football game to be played in the new facility that is co-owned by the two teams.
Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka is concerned because Hixon’s injury happened without any contact, when he was planting his foot on a punt return.
“I think the Turf did play a big role in that so we’re concerned about it,” Kiwanuka said. “We know our front office is looking into it and doing everything they can. You just have to go out there and play football. You can’t worry about that on the field, but it is a concern.”
Giants general manager Jerry Reese said officials from both teams walked the field after Hixon’s injury. They made one change, deciding to maintain a single NFL logo in the middle of the field instead of switching trays to Jets and Giants logos for each game.
“We don’t feel the field had anything to do with the Hixon injury,” Reese said.
Coach Tom Coughlin said all the team’s concerns were answered by the people who run the stadium.
“They did some work to make sure the distribution of the granules was even,” Coughlin said. “They did a lot of that. They checked each area with a meter to make sure it all met to the specification.”
Veteran offensive tackle Kareem McKenzie has no concerns about the field.
“Freak accidents happen like that, that’s why they are called freak accidents,” McKenzie said. “Typically within the game of football, you have things like that happen and transpire.”
Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara, the team’s union representative, hopes the field is not an issue. He noted that the Giants have been practicing on grass in training camp at the University at Albany, so players will have to adjust on Monday, and chose the right shoes.
“I don’t think you can take one injury like that and make a whole episode out of it,” O’Hara said.
Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks called Hixon’s injury “a freak event.”
Defensive tackle Barry Cofield said once the game starts players have to block out everything and focus on playing. He added that opening the new stadium will be exciting.
“As a guy who has played in the Super Bowl it may not be as easy to get up for a preseason game, but this is like the perfect storm of things surrounding this game,” Cofield said. “There is definitely a little extra into it.”
What is different this year is that the Giants and Jets are playing each other in the preseason opener for both teams.
Traditionally, the teams have met in the third week of the preseason, with both squads playing their starters for at least a half in what was a final tuneup for the regular season.
The schedule changed this year because both teams wanted to be part of the first football game in the 82,500-seat stadium. This will be a Jets’ home game.
“This is a brotherly rivalry with the Jets,” O’Hara said. “We share the same stadium and similar fans, so there is that edge to it. The excitement is that it is the first game and it’s a chance to block and hit somebody other than your teammates, who you have been banging on for two weeks. While it will be tough to see the Green, we’ll be excited in the new stadium in prime time.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.