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Barber says healing arm good enough to handle punts again

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 19, 2001

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Despite the cast on his fractured left forearm, Tiki Barber had no trouble holding his video camera after Thursday's practice as he taped the scene created by the Super Bowl hype at Giants Stadium. He soon hopes to handle punts with the same dexterity.

The halfback said he felt comfortable enough to field kicks for the first time in nearly three weeks. He said he handled about 10 punts in practice and didn't drop any, prompting him to predict he will be able to return punts against the Baltimore Ravens.

"I can't guarantee it, but I expect to," said Barber, who hopes to discard his graphite cast for the game. "I'm not worried about it. I've been catching punts, so I'm re-establishing my confidence. We don't know. I guess it may come down to a game-time decision. It all comes down to what I'm comfortable with."

Barber has been undergoing daily therapy on the injury sustained in the Dec. 17 win at Dallas. Doctors fitted his arm with a bone stimulator, which he wears for 20 minutes a day. The battery-powered device sends ultrasonic waves through the injured area, stimulating movement and blood flow to help the bone rebuild.

ANOTHER GUARANTEE: Coach Jim Fassel issued another guarantee, this time an endorsement of new Jets coach Herm Edwards: "I guarantee you he'll do fine."

Fassel and Edwards do not know each other well, but Fassel has admired his work from afar: "I have tremendous respect for him. I've seen him handle players, and I've read his comments. I think he's going to be a tremendous guy with the players. He'll be rough and demanding, but I think they will respond. There's no b.s. with him."

LET'S FOCUS: The scout team defense has focused on trying to strip the ball to prepare the offense for the Ravens. Baltimore led the NFL with 49 takeaways. "They've been stripping and pulling and doing a little extra just so you're aware of it," Barber said.

THE BIG BET: Here are the stakes in the standard mayoral wager on the game:

If the Giants win, New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will get a bushel of crabs, a dozen Baltimore Berger cookies and items to be determined.

If the Ravens win, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley will get two tickets to the Broadway show of his choice; a copy of the Encyclopedia of New York City; an assortment of fish from the Fulton Fish Market; a case of bottled New York City tap water; and a case of Brooklyn lager beer.

The losing mayor has to wear the winning team's championship hat in public.

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