Plax, Amani lead Potential-Laden Wideouts

This is an interesting group. Last year, they were a much-maligned unit. Some of the criticism was warranted. Some of their shortcomings were the result of a rookie QB who was struggling. It was obvious that there needed to be offseason changes and although there were only two, they were significant.

Ike Hilliard was let go and Plaxico Burress was brought in. This unit should/could be a talented group but every one of the six receivers needs to improve in at least one area. The progress of Eli Manning will also mean a lot to this unit.

Plaxico Burress – At some point this year, Pittsburgh will miss having Burress on their team. Plax is a physical receiver with great WR size. He has average speed on the clock, but he has a long stride and he eats up yardage quickly. He is a legitimate deep threat who can stretch the field. Burress is also a good "bad-weather" receiver and that will come in handy later in the year. He's good with the ball after the catch and he will become a great target for Manning in the red zone. So far it has taken him a while to mature. While it has been a slow process, he is making strides. He formed a solid working relationship with Ben Roethlisberger and we expect him to do the same with Manning. He still needs to work through some inconsistencies like dropped balls and mis-read coverages. Early in his career he was also inconsistent off the field. These inconsistencies tempered the market when he became an unrestricted free agent, Hopefully he will continue to grow as a player and a person. It will be interesting to watch his relationship with Tom Coughlin and how that plays out. On the surface they appear to be oil and water, but we'll see how it develops.

Amani Toomer – At this point in his fine career, Toomer is clearly the second receiver and that's the way it should be. Unfortunately, he does not look to be in sync with Manning yet. He's almost become the "forgotten" receiver. Toomer was at his best when he was with Kerry Collins. Toomer's strength is vertical routes and Collins was a great deep passer. Now he has moved from split end to flanker and is filling the role last held by Hilliard. That change doesn't sound like much of an adjustment, but for some players it's a major transition that not all can easily make. One big adjustment is that he will usually line up on the QB's blind side. He excels at the basic routes like hitch, go and post patterns. At flanker he will need to run more intricate routes. He'll need to go over the middle more now. When you add the fact that he has lost a step, he's clearly become more of a complementary receiver.

David Tyree – Tyree has worked his way into the third receiver role. We are not sure how effective he will be in that role; he has a ways to go. While a couple of other guys were in sickbay, he stepped up and won the job. Obviously he is a great special teams player and he should be on the team based on those skills alone. Whatever they get from him after specials is pure gravy. He's not a polished receiver and he doesn't have great WR speed. He is in the process of learning the inside routes from the slot position. Learning where to go and how to run those routes takes time and experience. He also needs to learn the coverages. While he doesn't have great physical receiving skills it doesn't mean he can't get the job done. Guys like Hilliard, Troy Brown and Hines Ward are similar to him and they were successful because they know how to run routes, read defenses and get open. Like Hilliard, he is a tough guy and an easy player to root for. If he utilizes the same instincts and hard work he used to become an excellent special teams player, he has a chance to become something as a receiver.

Willie Ponder – Ponder, a small-school product, has also made his bones on special teams. He is very good at kickoff returns. He has deceptive speed. He's one of those rare guys who have better field speed than clock speed. Right now he would he considered a possession receiver. Most of his best work would come in the intermediate zone. He is still raw as far as receiving skills go, but he does have good hands. With further work he could be a potential slot receiver as well. While he continues to improve as a receiver his special teams work will keep him with the club.

Tim Carter – Without question, the biggest enigma in the receiving corps is Tim Carter. More than any receiver on the team Carter comes closest to having the total package. He can run precise routes, has very good hands and explosive speed. He can get open on short, intermediate or deep routes. Unfortunately, he seems to always be hurt. Those types of players are a drain on the team. They force the team to carry extra players at their position thus shortchanging another area. It has to be getting very close to "fish or cut bait" time for Carter. He is such a frustrating player because he has great talent. He can do things that Burress and Toomer can't do. Unfortunately we don't see it often enough. He could be great if he stays on the field.

Jamaar Taylor – Taylor is the second of the Giants' M*A*S*H brothers. So far, he's been Tim Carter, Jr. He has a good body frame with legitimate size and speed. He had multiple injuries at Texas A&M and they have continued at this level. He has flashed the few times we've seen him on the field. We need to see more of it. Right now his potential is keeping him on the team. It certainly isn't his production. It will be interesting to see how patient and how long the Giants will wait for Taylor and Carter.

In summary, this can be a very good group, but other then Burress, none of them is truly secure for the future. There are still questions surrounding this group. This could be Toomer's last contract with the team. Carter and Taylor need to get healthy and stay healthy. Ponder and Tyree have further development ahead of them as receivers.

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