The Giants' Hakeem Nicks did some individual work Thursday and hopes to be able to play Sunday at San Francisco. (US Presswire)

Giants coach Tom Coughlin hasn’t played with a full deck at wide receiver since Week 2, but wide receiver Ramses Barden (concussion) has fully participated in practice this week while Hakeem Nicks (knee/foot) did some individual work on Thursday and could do even more on Friday.

Coughlin didn’t know if Nicks’ left knee was still swollen but said there’s “always hope” he’ll be able to play against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Nicks wouldn’t specify if his knee is still the issue or if it is his surgically repaired right foot. He did say if he can get through Friday’s practice without a setback, then he’ll “be good” for Sunday. Of course, joints can swell up on airplanes and it’s a long flight from New York to San Francisco.

“It’s been three games and I’m ready to get back out there," Nicks said. "You know, (I've) just got to be patient. Patience is a virtue and I’ve been down this road before. It ain’t nothing new.”

Nicks had 14 catches for 237 yards and one touchdown in two games before going back on the shelf.

He didn’t play particularly well in two appearances against the 49ers last season, making two catches for 41 yards (including a touchdown) in Week 10 and five catches for 55 yards in the NFC Championship Game.

The latter of the two games sticks out in Nicks’ mind for the physical play.

“It was the most physical game definitely last season,” he said. “It was a defensive game, hard hitting, the weather -- in all regards it was a tough game.”

The Giants’ offense has performed well without Nicks (they accumulated 1,877 yards in Weeks 2 through 5, which is a franchise record for a four-game stretch), but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride insists his unit is better with Nicks.

“There’s a reason he’s a starter," Gilbride said. “The other guys have filled in admirably. We’re very, very proud to see what Ramses (Barden) did for a couple of games, whatRueben (Randle) did this past game, (Domenik Hixon has) been unbelievable all season long. So I’m proud of them all, but you always want your best players and your starters to come back.

“Now the problem is, just getting him back is one thing. What level is he able to play at, that's another. So that's what we'll have to wait and see.”

Who didn’t practice? DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps), RB Andre Brown (concussion) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) were the only Giants to not practice officially.

Coughlin said Phillips still has “a ways to go.”

CB Corey Webster (hand/hamstring), MLB Chase Blackburn (hip), TE Martellus Bennett (knee), RT David Diehl (knee) and Nicks were all limited while Barden (concussion), CB Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and S Antrel Rolle (knee) as well as WLBs Michael Boley (hip) and Keith Rivers (hamstring) all participated fully.

Diehl did “a little bit” more on Thursday than he did Wednesday.

Rivers said his hamstring has taken awhile to heal properly because he kept trying to come back before his body was ready. Now, though, he believes he's "turned a corner."

If Bennett can’t play Sunday, expect Bear Pascoe to get first-team reps on Sunday. Pascoe, a California native who was drafted by San Francisco in 2009, had two catches for 23 yards against the 49ers in Week 10 last season, and added a six-yard touchdown catch at Candlestick Park in the NFC Championship Game.

Pascoe said he expects Bennett to be playing.

Stevie Brown will likely start again for Phillips. Brown had his second interception of the season in Week 5 and has looked very fast. That’s important because 49ers tight end Vernon Davis is a true deep threat, and slower safeties have had trouble keeping up with him.

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