Ailing hamstring continues to hobble Bennett

ALBANY, New York, Newsday

The words were delivered in Sean Bennett’s customary monotone, a near whisper that sounds out of place in the brash NFL. But the sentiment was blunt and emotional.

“There are times I’m about to snap out there, I’m so frustrated,” the Giants running back said. Yet the weeks have dragged on, with Bennett remaining on the sideline because of a hamstring injury.

He missed seven games as a rookie in 1999 because of two knee sprains. He missed all of 2000 because of knee surgery, ruining coordinator Sean Payton’s vision of a versatile weapon. Then, after spending the last season rehabilitating the knee, Bennett suffered a hamstring injury while running in late March. He sat out minicamp in June but was supposed to be back for training camp. Then he was supposed to miss a week. Then he was supposed to be back after the preseason opener.

That would mean Sunday, when the Giants resume practice. Bennett said he might give it a try this week, but his hamstring is not fully healed.

“It’s been bugging me,” he said. “I’m not feeling it going half-speed or three-quarters-speed. It’s when I push myself and change direction and explode out of the cut. When I get above 80 percent, it’s pulling and there’s still some pain there.”

That is not good news for Bennett or the Giants, who could use the hybrid running back/H-back/tight end/wideout. There is no established receiving tight end, the four-receiver package is missing Ike Hilliard, and the backfield is without Tiki Barber until September and Joe Montgomery until 2002.