WEIGH SCALES - For much of his life, Henry Hynoski practiced football, studied the game; lived and breathed everything about it.

While his talent and hard work landed him a starting gig with the New York Giants this summer, the scope of that accomplishment hasn't really settled in.

"Honestly, it still hasn't hit me yet and it still seems kind of surreal because everything just moves so fast," Hynoski said Saturday just prior to holding an autograph session at the Wayside Inn.

Being a professional football player hasn't changed his approach to the game. He awakes daily at 6 a.m. and goes through a full day of meetings, practice and workouts.

And just like many working stiffs, his workday ends at 5 p.m.

"A lot of people think it's just all fun and games, but it's really not. It's a full-time job," he said.

But don't think the fact that he plays football for a living is lost on him. His humil-

ity remains intact and he comes across as someone very grateful for the career he's carving out, and very thankful for its rewards.

One memorable moment came at the end of training camp. When undrafted rookies and other free agents come to camp looking to make the team, they use makeshift lockers in the middle of the locker room.

That all changes when they are added to the roster.

"When it was official I got my big locker, my name up there, and that was just, you know, like it's kind of getting real here."

Whether Hynoski cashes his NFL paycheck or receives it by direct deposit, it's easy to imagine a smile having cracked his face when looking at his bank statement not just at the amount of his pay - the minimum rookie salary is $375,000 - but also from whom the deposit was made - the New York Giants.

"It's a good feeling," he said with a chuckle. "I'm not struggling anymore."

Ask any NFL fan locally and most will admit keeping an eye out for No. 45 when watching the Giants on television. Others have made a trip to New York or another city to catch him in action live.

Hynoski said a group of his friends who are Eagles fans were in Philadelphia on Sept. 25 when the Giants won 29-16 behind a strong fourth-quarter finish. Anyone watching closely enough saw Hynoski lining up in the backfield, laying down blocks and even bouncing about the end zone after the go-ahead touchdown.

His friends saw it all live and weren't afraid to cheer for the enemy, so to speak.

"I ran a wheel route down the sideline and they said they stood up and started cheering and all the Eagles fans got mad at them for getting up and cheering," he said. "They were in their Eagles jerseys, too, but they were there supporting me."

As for game day in the NFL, Hynoski said the level of intensity is immeasurable, the play exceptionally fast and physical.

"You don't even have time to think, you just have to go off pure reactions."

Hynoski said he's bonded with his backfield mates, including high-profile backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Each Friday night the entire backfield platoon eat dinner together.

There's one rule about that weekly night out.

"If you miss a dinner, you have to pay the whole bill," Hynoski said. "It gets pretty pricey so I don't have any intentions on missing. That's the one rule."

Hynoski missed last Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills due to a neck injury he suffered the week before against the Seattle Seahawks. The Giants have this week off and return to action at home next week against the Miami Dolphins followed by a road game Nov. 6 against the New England Patriots.