Dwayne Hendricks isn’t sure if he’ll get on the field Sunday in the New York Giants’ biggest game of the season, but that isn’t stopping the 2004 Millville High School graduate from enjoying everything the NFL’s grandest stage has to offer.
Hendricks, 25, and his teammates arrived in Indianapolis on Monday as Big Blue prepares to take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
The teams participated in NFL Media Day on Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Hendricks got his first real taste of the frenzy surrounding the spectacle.
As part of the Giants’ practice squad, Hendricks will be allowed on the sideline for the game, but will not be dressed for play.
“Indy is great, we just wrapped up Media Day and it was a pretty incredible experience,” the defensive lineman said in a telephone interview. “The town is showing nothing but love for us. Everyone has been very hospitable.
“I heard there were something like 7,000 people at the event, which someone said might be a record. When I got back to our hotel room downtown, I looked out the window and there’s just fans everywhere. I’m seeing a lot of blue, because that’s what both teams wear.”
Hendricks, who is currently a member of the Giants’ practice squad, has appeared in just one game this season — in a 24-20 win over the Patriots on Nov. 6, when the Millville native played on special teams.
Being a part of that victory is something that has stuck with Hendricks this season.
“I was just saying to myself that the last time I had an opportunity to play was a win against New England, and it feels good knowing I had a hand in that,” Hendricks said. “For me, I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to play Sunday, but you have to be ready because you never know what could happen.”
Super Bowl week creates a circus-like atmosphere in the host city every year, but Hendricks, who played college football at University of Miami, maintains staying focused shouldn’t be a problem.
“The NFL and New York Giants have put together a good plan that allows you to separate yourself from the distractions,” he said. “The best thing to do is just stay in your room, watch film and maybe try to sneak in a movie during some downtime. Whatever you can do to keep yourself out of the spotlight.”
There will be no hiding from the bright lights Sunday, however.
The Giants, who didn’t clinch a postseason berth until claiming the NFC East division title with a win over Dallas on the final week of the regular season, hope to ride their hot streak to their first Super Bowl title since beating New England, 17-14, in 2008.
“It’s mainly about clicking at the right time, and I feel like we’ve done that on both sides of the ball over the last five games,” Hendricks said of the Giants. “Coach (Tom) Coughlin has been here before and knows the right way to go about it. He knows what’s best for the team, and we are all willing to do whatever it takes to win the game.”
Hendricks was signed by the Giants as a free agent rookie in 2009.
Even if he doesn’t suit up Sunday, he still plans to use the Super Bowl as a learning experience.
“I consider it a blessing to be a part of this,” Hendricks said. “It’s only my third year in the league, and I’ve learned that if you put in the hard work, not just the typical hard work, but over and beyond, that it pays off. To have this opportunity shows that.”