Giants establish practice squad

A day after Big Blue whittled its roster down to the final 53 – sending Jesse Palmer, Mike Cloud, Kevin Lewis, Mark Jones and Wayne Lucier packing in the process – New York established its 8-man practice squad.

Seven of the eight players on the practice squad were with the Giants in training camp: offensive linemen Lewis Kelly of South Carolina State and Myniya Smith of Southern, linebacker T.J. Hollowell of Nebraska, defensive tackle Jonas Seawright of North Carolina, running backs Ryan Grant of Notre Dame and Mike Jemison of Indiana (Pa.) and wide receiver Michael Jennings of Florida State.

The eighth player is cornerback Kevin Timothee of Florida International, who was in training camp with the Tennessee Titans. He was the first player in the history of his school to sign a professional contract when the Titans signed him on April 28. The Rockland County, NY native played three seasons for FIU after transferring from Mississippi.

New York also swapped tight ends, waiving Chris Luzar and being awarded Sean Berton, a third-year pro from North Carolina State, off waivers from Minnesota. The 6-4, 263-pound Berton had one reception this preseason for Minnesota.

In 2004, Berton played 14 games with seven starts for the Vikings. He had been released during training camp, but was re-signed when Jim Kleinsasser suffered a season-ending injury. Used primarily as a blocker from both the tight end and H-back positions, Berton caught nine passes for 78 yards, including three apiece at Detroit on Dec. 19 and vs. Green Bay on Dec. 24. He also added a 16-yard reception in an NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Philadelphia.

Berton played in all 16 games as a rookie in 2003, but did not have a reception. Much of his action was on special teams. Minnesota signed him as a rookie free agent on May 10, 2003.

Berton began his college career at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State for his final two seasons.

Earlier in the weekend, New York signed punt returner Chad Morton to be their opening day return man. Jones was waived after missing most of camp with a foot injury.

The 5-8, 203-pound Morton has played for New Orleans, the Jets and Washington, where he suffered a knee injury that limited him to six games last season. He was signed by the New England Patriots on June 21, placed on the physically unable to perform list on July 28, and released last Tuesday.

In 62 career games (three starts), Morton has 88 rushing attempts for 360 yards (a 4.1-yard average), 48 receptions for 419 yards and a touchdown and averaged 9.0 yards on 79 punts returns and 24.0 yards on 174 kickoff returns. He has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, including two with the Jets in 2002, when he led the AFC with 1,509 return yards.

"Again, he's a playmaker, a guy that's done it in the past, not only as a punt returner, but as a kickoff returner," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Also, I think he can play some as the fourth back and be a guy who perhaps would be a third-down back or run from behind a team that's deployed with three or even four wide receivers. I think we pick up a little bit of depth there."

Morton, who played collegiate football at USC, was a fifth-round draft choice of the New Orleans Saints in 2000 (the 166th overall pick). He was traded to the Jets following his rookie season, then signed with the Redskins on March 6, 2003, then was awarded to the team on April 8 when an arbitrator ruled the Jets did not match the offer sheet. Washington released him on June 3 of this year.

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