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Giants return to town

Fans travel from near and far to see Super Bowl champs practice

Wide receiver Victor Cruz makes a one-handed grab during the first day of New York Giants training camp July 27 at the University at Albany.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz makes a one-handed grab during the first day of New York Giants training camp July 27 at the University at Albany. Robert Goo

— Jim Willsen drove his family from Long Island to the University at Albany Friday for the first day of New York Giants training camp.

Willsen is a New York Jets fan, but it was difficult for him to deny his wife and two young sons the opportunity to see their favorite team start preparing to defend their Super Bowl championship.

"I'm a football fan," said Willsen. "The Jets are No. 1 in my mind, but I never root against the Giants unless they're playing the Jets."

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Giants Training Camp

Action from the first day of New York Giants training camp at the University at Albany Friday, July 27. Interviews include Tony Mogavero of Colonie, Sam and AJ Rovner of Long Island and John Maxian of Rensselaer.

Action from the first day of New York Giants training camp at the University at Albany Friday, July 27. Interviews include Tony Mogavero of Colonie, Sam and AJ Rovner of Long Island and John Maxian of Rensselaer.

The Willsen family were a small part of the 1,779 fans that gathered at University Field for the first of 14 Giants practices. Others came from as far away as London and as close as Colonie to catch Eli Manning, Victor Cruz and the rest of "Big Blue" going through their drills.

"You're only traveling 20 minutes instead of nearly three hours to see them," said Colonie resident and Giants season ticket holder Tony Mogavero, who brought his family to UAlbany Friday. "This is great to come here in the afternoon and see them up close."

"I've been a Giants fan all my life," added Rensselaer resident John Maxian. "Having the camp here is great."

Area Giants fans didn't see their favorite team practice at UAlbany in 2011 thanks to the NFL lockout, which wasn't resolved in time for the team to schedule training camp outside of their Meadowlands Sports Complex home. It was the first time in 15 years that the Giants failed to come upstate.

The training camp setting didn't matter too much for players such as defensive tackle Chris Canty. All he wanted was the chance to play the 2011 NFL season.

"There's really not too much difference (in the settings). Training camp is training camp," said Canty. "You're here to get ready for the season."

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