Hot Topic and Player Notes

Chad Morton was a top-notch punt and kickoff returner for the New Orleans Saints, the New York Jets and the Washington Redskins, for whom he played when he tore up his knee.

So when coach Joe Gibbs approved his release, the New England Patriots signed him. And then the Giants got a break, since the Patriots didn't use him at all in camp and left him on the physically unable to perform list before releasing him. The Giants expressed an immediate interest that turned into a quick signing and even quicker help.

In Morton's first game as a Giant, the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, he helped assist in a record-tying achievement by the special teams, one that had taken 50 years to equal.

Morton returned a punt 52 yards for a touchdown and Willie Ponder took back a kickoff 95 yards, the first time both had been turned into points in a single game since 1955, when the late Jimmy Patton did it.

"It was a special treat," Morton said, "and it will be something I always remember. There was added excitement because it was the opening game, and I always get excited playing before a big, friendly crowd."

That happens all the time in Giants Stadium, but a punt return for a TD hadn't happened in six years, since running back Tiki Barber took one back 85 yards in 1999.

"You know, when you do this a while," said the 5-8, 200-pound Morton, "you get a feeling, a sort of instinctive understanding that you might have a special one. It's all in the first few steps. You have to make the first guy miss. You always have to do that, he has to miss. And then if you get past the second guy, you know there is a chance you can go all the way. That gets the adrenalin pumping and I seem to run faster."

Morton has achieved success in all his previous three stops - once returning kickoffs for touchdowns twice in a game against Buffalo when he was with the Jets - and now he is hoping to do the same for the Giants. Overall, he has 79 career punt returns for a 9.1 average and 174 kickoffs for a 24.2 average and three touchdowns. He has rushed for 360 yards, caught 49 passes for 419 yards and scored a touchdown from scrimmage.

"I like this Giants team," the USC product said. "I can feel something happening here. The offense is very powerful and fast and the offense is going to be something special. I want to take another one back, and I'd like to do that once a week."


--TE Jeremy Shockey (sprained ankle) didn't practice, but coach Tom Coughlin said he is day-to-day and is likely to play Sunday

--CB Will Peterson (knee) practiced Thursday. Coach Tom Coughlin said he will be evaluated later in the week.

--Rookie MLB Chase Blackburn credits the man whose job he took, Kevin Lewis, for helping him make the final roster. "Kevin was great, very helpful," he said. "I was upset when he was released and I knew it was me who took his job away. But in this business, it's all business." Blackburn, who was roommate and teammate of Browns backup QB Charlie Frye at Akron, is the only other MLB listed on the Giants depth chart, a giant leap for the 6-4, 245-pounder who wasn't even drafted.

--RT Kareem McKenzie plans on playing Sunday despite his sprained ankle. "This is pro football," he said. "You play if you can, you don't let little things get in the way."

--The Giants defense against the rush, for the first time in memory, leads the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals were allowed just 31 yards in 21 carries on opening day last Sunday.

--LG David Diehl is starting at his third position in three years. As a fifth-round draft pick in 2003 he earned the RG job, then moved to RT last season and now switched to LG this year. He has yet to miss a game. "It's all the same to me," he said. "It's offensive line. Where they want me is where I'll play. I did this in college, too, so it isn't a big deal."

--RB Tiki Barber has never had a big game against the Saints, this week's opponents. In four games he has gained a total of 109 yards in 26 carries and scored just one TD. "They always have a tough, very physical defense," he says, "but this time I'm counting on the offensive line."

The Giants Beat Top Stories