Hakeem Nicks never entertained the idea his absence from voluntary OTAs would be a potential distraction to the Giants.

The only regret Nicks expressed upon his return to the team for the start of its mandatory minicamp Tuesday was his lack of communication with Tom Coughlin regarding the situation.

In fact, Nicks took all of the blame for that, even if he refused to elaborate as to why he chose to spend the last month training at home in North Carolina rather than in North Jersey with his teammates.

“I don’t feel like I missed anything,” said Nicks, whose rookie deal expires following the upcoming season, raising questions as to whether he was sending a message regarding his desire for a new deal and/or displeasure for not having one as of yet.

With Nicks back on the practice field Tuesday, Coughlin turned his focus – albeit because of prodding from the media — to the other Giants’ starting wide receiver, the one not in attendance: Victor Cruz.

Cruz is unsigned, which means the Giants can’t penalize the Paterson native for not participating. Nicks could have been fined in excess of $66,000 for missing minicamp.

Talks toward a long-term deal for Cruz continue, albeit slower than either side would prefer. If nothing is settled by June 17, the Giants have a choice to lower their one-year tender offer from $2.879 million to $630,000. That would undoubtedly upset Cruz and his representatives, however, so at this point such a measure should be considered extremely unlikely.

On a day where No. 88 returned to the fold, yet another vital piece of Eli Manning’s offense remains missing in action. Shortly after Nicks met the media Tuesday morning, Cruz sent a video of himself working out via Twitter with a three-word message attached: “Still working hard.”