Justin Tuck’s performance dropoff was so severe last season that it recently warranted a heart-to-heart meeting with Giants general manager Jerry Reese.

Reese discussed the chat yesterday at the NFL scouting combine.

“Obviously, Justin hasn’t played as well as we think he can play and what kind of player he has shown to be in the past — and he knows that,” Reese said. “Justin and I recently had a really long conversation and talked about some of those things. He really wants to get back to the old Justin Tuck, and to be the player that we know him to be.”

Tuck was indeed a non-factor most of last season, recording just four sacks (his fewest since an injury-ravaged 2006) and serving as a big reason why the Giants’ defense plummeted to 31st in the league while the team as a whole missed the playoffs one year removed from a Super Bowl.

Reese otherwise was typically tight-lipped but did openly dispute a recent ESPN report that the Giants are more concerned with reaching a long-term deal with wide receiver Hakeem Nicks than with Victor Cruz.