Lewis, Whittle get starting nods

On Thursday Tom Coughlin announced what TGI has known for days - that Kevin Lewis would start at middle linebacker and Jason Whittle at left guard. <BR><BR>

Coughlin did not reveal who his starting free safety would be, although Brent Alexander has been taking the reps with the first team over Omar Stoutmire. There's also the slight possibility that New York could open with a defense containing both Alexander and Stoutmire, with starting SS Shaun Williams coming off the bench.

"There's no quit in me," said Lewis, a fifth-year Giant that has started just two (both in 2002) of the 47 games in which he's played. "I've been never been one of the outstanding leading guys. I've always been the fighter, taking the jabs, taking the jabs and trying to throw mine when I can. I've gotten the nod and let's go.

"It's an accomplishment. It's one of my goals. Now let's go out there and prove to everyone that you can do the job. You accomplished something, but let's go back to work. It's not a sigh of relief, it's another deep breath and let's go."

When camp began, Whittle was much further away than Lewis from a spot in the Giants' lineup - literally, because he was in Tampa Bay playing for the Buccaneers. But eight days ago the Giants sent a draft choice to the Bucs for Whittle, who played for the Giants from 1998-2002 and was their starting right guard his final season here.

"I'm excited to go out there and play," Whittle said. "It's the start of a brand new season and we're opening up in Philly. What more can you ask for? I'm not nervous at all. I've got a bunch of great guys around me."

"He's done a real good job," Coughlin said of Whittle. "I'm very impressed with that part of it. That's exactly what we felt he could do and he has not disappointed. In Whittle you've got a guy that has responded really well to the system and has communicated well, has adapted well to the program...the players like him. He's fit in very well and hopefully he'll give us a little extra boost."

*Cornerback Will Allen practiced for the first time since he hurt his left knee against the Jets on Aug. 27. Coughlin said he would look at the practice tape and watch again tomorrow before saying whether Allen might play in the game. Allen is listed as questionable.

*Tight end Jeremy Shockey is also listed as questionable, but Coughlin said he has responded well in practice this week. Shockey has been hampered by a strained hamstring.

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