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Old Hoss

Super Bowl XXV hero Hostetler visits Giants practice

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Posted: Friday January 26, 2001 8:38 PM

  Tiki Barber Giants running back Tiki Barber takes a moment from stretching for a laugh with teammates before practice. AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The New York Giants had a special visitor stop by their final practice for the Super Bowl -- Jeff Hostetler, who quarterbacked them to the NFL title when the game was played in Tampa 10 years ago.

Hostetler threw passes to the receivers and running backs while the team was loosening up for the two-hour workout at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training complex. Co-owner Wellington Mara made his first appearance at practice after flying to town Thursday.

"That was great," head coach Jim Fassel said of Hostetler. "That was the highlight. It was good to see him back out here. The last time the Giants won the Super Bowl, he was right here with them."

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Fassel devoted a lot of practice to special teams, which he expects to play a major role in deciding Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Our special teams have been one of the reasons we've improved our play," Fassel said. "The games that we've won really our special teams have been a big part of it."

One important decision the Giants have yet to make is who will return punts.

Tiki Barber, who fractured his left arm against Dallas on Dec. 17, did not return punts in the divisional round or the NFC championship game. But with only a titanium shield on the top of his arm, he has not had any problems catching punts in practice this week.

Ike Hilliard also has worked as a punt returner since the team arrived in Tampa.

Everyone practiced Friday, including safety Shaun Williams (hamstring), fullback Greg Comella (buttocks), receiver Amani Toomer (ankle) and cornerback Reggie Stephens (foot). Defensive end Michael Strahan felt fine after sitting out part of the team's 11-on-11 drill Thursday.

"Somebody asked me last night, 'Do you have a flu bug going through?'" Fassel said. "No, not really. We've got some other people in the organization who are sick. But right now, all the players are fine."

Offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, who rolled his left ankle during Wednesday's practice, had a trainer tape the outside of his shoe, but did not miss any practice time with the first team.

The team will have a 45-minute walk-through practice on Saturday. Fassel said no special speakers have been invited to talk to the players. However, two current players will address the team after the workout.

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