Inside Slant

When Harry Carson roamed the football fields as the Giants' middle linebacker (that would be from 1976-1988) he came across all sorts of running backs. To him, they were merely stand-up dolls put there for him to tackle. "Oh, once in a while I had a problem," he said. "There was a gigantic back in Cincinnati named (Pete} Johnson. And of course I had to deal with Eric Dickerson every once in a while. And Earl Campbell was no bargain, either."

It should be noted that Dickerson and Campbell are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But Carson, who was cornered in the Giants' locker room at Cleveland Browns Stadium shortly after the teams' first preseason game last Saturday night, shook his head. "No," he said, "I never did have to tackle someone like this kid." This kid, as he put it, is Giants rookie halfback Brandon Jacobs. He is 6-4 and 265 and has a certifiable time in the 40-yard dash of 4.37. He was the 110th player selected, a fourth-round gem if ever there was one, and what he did in his first NFL chance -- albeit an exhibition game -- will soon put the fear of something into the minds and hearts of defensive coordinators everywhere.

"I don't think he can be tackled one-on-one," Carson said, "especially not after he gets a taste of what to do, a feel for the NFL. You'll need help, and you'll have to hit him low, from his thighs down. And then you better hope he falls." Jacobs carried the ball 12 times and had 73 yards against the Browns, in itself not a bad outing. But he had a seven-yard slash (on third-and-one) called back by a holding penalty and he had a breakaway 43-yarder turned into a 10-yarder by another hold. Given the two problems that were not his fault -- he should have had 14 carries for 113 yards.

So how would Carson have tackled this kid?

"Low," he said, "and I'd have to have some of my friends with me."

When he played, when the Giants were winning Super Bowls, those friends included Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks and Leonard Marshall. Yeah, that would have worked, but look at all the effort he thinks it would have taken.

"You know," said reserve (but perhaps not for long) left guard Rich Seubert, "when you hit the line and make it move, and feel that freight train blowing past you, it just gives you a really warm feeling."

Coach Tom Coughlin, who dispenses compliments as if they were 10-carat diamonds, was asked about Jacobs. "Well, he was one of the young guys who stood up and did a good job," he said. "He responded well."

Right, coach. He responded well. Ask the Browns' defenders who were either bouncing off him or trying to catch him.

--It gets tiresome to repeat the sad story of Giants guard Rich Seubert and his return from the pro football graveyard, but not to him.
He loves it.  "This is what I do," he says. "This is my life for right now. And when someone tells you that you are not going to be able to do what you love so much, I guess you can react two ways. You can sit down and cry or you can tell them they are all full of you-know-what and work harder than you have ever worked to prove them wrong."

Seubert chose the second step. He had suffered a spiral compound fracture of the right fibula, tibia and ankle. He has had 12 surgeries. He has five pins in his leg. He needs a note from his doctor to go through the electronic gates at airports because he is bound to set them off.

He played Saturday night against the Browns, in the Giants' first preseason game of the summer, and it was his first actual competition since that day, Oct. 19 of 2003, when Philadelphia defensive lineman N.D. Kalu fell on him in a pileup and everyone nearby heard the terrible snapping and crunching sound.

"It felt pretty good, my leg," he said, "but playing in a real game felt great. It has been a long, long time. I felt like my old self and I am just so happy. I don't know how to describe the feeling. It makes me sound emotional, but I wasn't really emotional. I was just very happy to be there."

Does he think he can take back his job from his buddy, David Diehl? "I don't know," he said, "and I'm not going to put David in the spot. I can only do what I can do. Work hard, study, make the plays when I have the opportunity and the rest will happen. But I finally got in there. I was so happy I can't describe it."
Yes he can. He just did.

Seubert's remarkable comeback, plus the UFA signing of right tackle Kareem McKenzie, and the free agent signing of left tackle Bob Whitfield, has given the Giants a strong offensive line instead of a unit that was injured and threadbare last season. Whitfield is pushing incumbent Luke Petitgout; center Shaun O'Hara is finally healthy. Second-year Chris Snee at right guard is growing more confident. McKenzie has locked down the right tackle spot.

Now it's the battle between Seubert and Diehl. One of them is going to make a fine backup guard, you know?

"I'm just back," Seubert said. "Everything will take care of itself now."

CAMP CALENDAR: The Giants will break camp Aug. 24.

NOTES, QUOTES

The Giants-Browns game had to be put on hold for one hour, 19 minutes Saturday night while a rampaging electrical storm attacked the Cleveland area. The lightning bolts were fearsome and there was concern for the players, so the game was suspended and they all headed for the locker rooms.

"I haven't seen lightning like that in a long time," said QB Eli Manning. "I wasn't about to sprint off the field and push guys out of the way but I did think being inside was smart."

The Giants had been involved in a game-opening drive and when they resumed Manning took it to fruition, hitting WR Plaxico Burress with a 20-yard fade pass in the left end zone.

"That's why we wanted Plax," Manning said. "I mean, he's 6-5 and there isn't a cornerback in the league even close. And he can jump. You know, all you do it put the ball up and he'll go get it."

Burress said it was exactly what the two had been working on since well before training camp. "I think the combination of Manning-to-Burress is going to make big headlines around New York this season," he said.
Jesse Palmer faltered a bit in his battle with UFA Tim Hasselbeck for the second-string QB job. He threw a costly interception -- "It was a terrible decision," he said -- while Hasselbeck completed eight of 15 passes for 87 yards and a nine-yard TD toss to WR Ataveus Cash.

Manning clicked on six of eight for 53 yards and the TD to Burress.

--Reserve RB Mike Cloud also showed well, gaining 58 yards in five carries. Starting RB Tiki Barber, who got in for a few plays (he carried twice for eight yards, caught one pass for 11 more), said: "I like what I'm seeing about the offense, with the ending of that drive (the TD pass to Burress)."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Why would I worry about getting enough touches? It's what I do. They hand me the ball and I run it." -- Giants rookie RB Brandon Jacobs following his sensational NFL debut.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Giants are interested in seeing something more from their fourth string QB, second-year undrafted free agent Jared Lorenzen, who they signed in the spring of 2004 and then reserved when he left the team to return home.

"I've got to see more of him at quarterback," said coach Tom Coughlin. "We brought him in for one play (a third-and-one for the 285-pounder to convert, which he did) but I want to see him get some snaps and throw the ball."

With Lorenzen at least an enticing entity to Coughlin, and with Tim Hasselbeck apparently moving ever-so-slightly ahead of incumbent Jesse Palmer for the backup position behind Eli Manning, could Palmer (in a wild upset) be the odd man out?

-- TE Visanthe Shiancoe continues to disappoint, and behind starter Jeremy Shockey there could be a dangerous void. The coaches like FA rookie Darius Williams (6-6, 270) but he has no experience.
-- There are a few undrafted FA rookies who have made their mark in training camp, and some of them actually have to be given a chance of making the final 53-man roster. They include LB Chase Blackburn, SS James Butler, WR Brandon Smith, WR Michael Jennings and OT Lewis Kelly.
-- DE Michael Strahan, who missed the final nine games in 2004 with a torn pectoral muscle, seems to have fully recovered, even at the age of 33, and had the Giants' only sack in the opening exhibition game against Cleveland. "It feels great," he said. "I can make all the moves and do all the things I have to worry about."

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: David Diehl vs. Rich Seubert for the starting LG position. Seubert used to own the job until midway through the '03 season when he suffered a compound fracture of his right tibia, fibula and ankle. Diehl is a convert from RT who has more size (he's 6-6, 315 while Seubert is 6-3, 305).

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Jesse Palmer vs. Tim Hasselbeck for the backup QB job behind Eli Manning, which carries with it the hope of the coaches that the winner will not have to play this season; There is also David Tyree, Tim Carter, Willie Ponder, Jamaar Taylor and Ataveus Cash battling for the third WR spots behind Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Rookie RB Brandon Jacobs, 6-4, 265 with 4.39 speed. He carried 12 times for 73 yards vs. Cleveland but had a run of 43 and another of seven yards called back. He has clearly become the backup to Tiki Barber, and might cause the coaching staff to devise formations in which they are both on the field together.

ROOKIE REPORT: Second round pick CB Corey Webster, who signed late, is rounding into shape and absorbing the playbook quickly. He will be a threat to LCB Will Allen sooner or later, perhaps sooner. ... The third round pick, DE Justin Tuck, is struggling.

... The fourth round pick, Jacobs, has taken the camp by storm. ... The sixth round pick, DE Eric Moore, suffered knee damage and most likely will be placed on IR prior to the start of the season.

INJURY REPORT: Just the usual bangs and bruises, except for Moore. ... Veteran starting WLB Barrett Green, who had off-season knee surgery, is still limited to one practice a day. ... Others with assorted minor ailments include WLB Nick Greisen, WR Jamaar Taylor, SS Jack Brewer, RB Derrick Ward, CB Antwan Spann, C-G Wayne Lucier, WR-PR Mark Jones, OT Greg Walker.


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