Training Camp Tip Sheet #2

Camp sleepers: Visanthe Shiancoe: While all eyes always are and always will be on Jeremy Shockey, Shiancoe very well may step up and prove himself worthy of the third-round pick New York spent on him in 2003. He had a tremendous offseason and was clearly the receiving star of the June minicamp. If he can continue to progress as a blocker, he could be the perfect complement to Shockey, and maybe even steal a few of his snaps.

Curry Burns: He came on and played very well last year in an injury-depleted defense. Burns probably won't emerge from camp as a starting safety, but he likely will be in New York's plans. The crafty safety seems to have a nose for the ball, something lacking in many of New York's DBs.

William Joseph: Practically everyone is expecting nothing from Joseph this season. That's where he could jump up and surprise. He actually showed some promise at times last year. With everyone overlooking his chances at contributing, Joseph might just step up and steal the show - and even the starting DT spot that no one believes he can win.

Lewis Kelly: Before Kelly ran into some rough times in Minnesota, the Vikings thought very highly of him. The interior lineman certainly has the ability and may be ready to seize a new opportunity and make some noise in New York with a clean slate. He was running second-team right guard during minicamp.

Ryan Grant: The Giants like Grant as more than just an extra body for camp. They like his aggressive running ability and penchant for gaining yards after contact. With no set-in-stone backup to Tiki Barber just yet, Grant will get a chance to show his wares.

Path to the playoffs: All aboard the Eli Express - Everyone knows Eli Manning is going to continue suffering through growing pains this season. However, there is no more important person in the Giants organization capable of turning things around and getting New York into the post-season than Manning. The offense needs Manning to play smart and succeed to have any chance. The weapons are there, now it's up to Manning.

Win the close ones:he Giants lost five games last year by a touchdown or less. They need the killer instinct to put teams away when they're ahead and also the ability to come from behind when need be. With improvements in all three phases, which they expect, this can easily be accomplished. Last year's 6-10 club wasn't very far at all from 10-6 and a playoff berth. They just need to do a better job of taking care of the little things.

Catch some breaks: This includes staying healthy and hoping the usual odd bounces of the ball goes your way. It also involves things like Terrell Owens sitting out the year or forcing a trade from the Eagles, and Drew Bledsoe having nothing left in the tank in Big D. These are the types of things the Giants can't control, but sure can benefit from.

Home-field advantage: New York posted a dismal 3-5 mark at Giants Stadium last season. No, it's not the loudest or most intimidating stadium to play in, but the Giants and their fans need to do a better job of making it tougher for teams to play at the Meadowlands. No less than five or six wins at home are a must if New York truly harbors playoff aspirations.

Take them one game at a time - Writers usually want to vomit when coaches and players talk about taking it - one game at a time.- However, in this instance, with a young quarterback at the helm and so many lengthy West Coast trips, that's exactly what the Giants need to do. They can't allow themselves to get caught up in what's down the road or what might happen - just focus on the exact task at hand. Needless to say, Coughlin is a master at this.

Key free agents to be: Will Allen - While he's been very dependable and a tremendous cover guy and tackler, it's hard to envision a scenario where Allen stays with Big Blue. If he has a huge year, then the Giants will likely let him walk, knowing they have Corey Webster behind him. If he has a so-so or poor year, the Giants will definitely let him walk, knowing they have Corey Webster behind him.

Tim Carter - So much depends on his health. If Carter can stay on the field and consistently show the Giants what they've only seen glimpses of so far, he very well could be back, potentially as a long-term starting replacement for Amani Toomer. If he even comes close to getting hurt or underachieving, they'll usher him out of town as fast as you can say 'Thomas Lewis'.

Nick Greisen: He'll be starting in the league somewhere next season. Whether he earns the spot with the Giants this year, they re-sign him and give him the job they inked Barrett Green for, or whether he walks and ends up playing his more natural MLB position, Greisen has the instincts and ability to start on the pro level. A possible destination if he leaves could be his hometown club, the Packers.

Must-see TV: Sept. 11 vs. Arizona - Things heat up real quickly for the Giants as Kurt Warner leads his Cardinals into Giants Stadium on opening day. As genuinely nice a human being as Warner is, you just know he'd love nothing better than to knock off the Giants. Eli vs. Kurt will certainly be hyped up as the game approaches.

Sept. 25 at San Diego: Think the Chargers fans have forgiven Manning for refusing to play for them? Think again. Manning is going to hear boo-birds probably unlike he's ever heard before in San Diego - and probably a lot worse - during this ESPN Sunday night special.

Nov. 20 vs. Philadelphia: It's not until the 10th game of the season that the Giants face off with the NFC Champs. A lot will have happened by this point, but there's no doubt the Philly/New York battle will still have a lot on the line and plenty of subplots.

Dec. 31 at Oakland: Happy New Year to Kerry Collins, who will be looking to stuff it in the Giants? faces like there's no tomorrow. Despite what many think, Collins didn't read the Manning handwriting on the wall as a sign he would be let go immediately. He was angry and hurt, and no doubt has the season finale circled on his calendar.

The Giants Beat Top Stories