Giants lucky Shockey's all grown up

There was always the concern that persuading Jeremy Shockey to alter his methods of on-field _expression was asking for trouble. Do that, Jim Fassel once intimated, and you risk taking the bite out of the dog.

So Fassel let Shockey be, and he spent a good long time reacting to every catch as if it were the "Immaculate Reception." The behavior, though, was more an affirmation of Shockey's maturity level than a necessary display of emotion.

We know that now because Shockey almost never acts like a lunatic anymore after making a catch. His course of action is to run back to the huddle, often after handing the ball to the official. There is no better evidence of Shockey's growth as an NFL player.

Shockey is all business on the field, and more and more he's displaying the same tact off the field. He's still the best quote on the team, still the go-to guy for colorful analysis. But he's taken the shock out of Shockey, replacing outlandish proclamations with more carefully considered remarks.

It's no stretch to connect his reactions to his actions. Shockey's steely focus is evident in both his receptions (25 through six games) and drops (precious few). For some time, we could mark him down for a drop a game, and Shockey usually would complete the blunder by dropkicking the ball upfield. No more.

Now Shockey can be chalked up for at least one big play a game. He has become, following two shaky injury-marred seasons, everything he was supposed to be upon taking his rock star act to the Giants after the 2002 draft.

He has reestablished himself as one of the top three tight ends in football. Shockey had 424 yards receiving and three touchdowns through six games. He had 259 yards receiving at the same point last season.

Of course, there is more to Shockey's improvement than toning down the celebrations. He is healthy, for one. He has been set free from the rigors of being a third offensive tackle, for another.

"We have to do something about this offense because we have great talent and good plays," Shockey said amid the euphoria of the last-second win over Denver. "We just have to execute them better. We always wait until the last minute. We have to work some stuff out."

That's right, Shockey was the voice of reason afterward. He knew the Giants got a bit of a break when Denver's defense softened in the fourth quarter. He knows how talented this offense can be, should be, and he won't settle for the inconsistencies the Giants showed against Denver.

Shockey provided other wonderful post-game nuggets. Asked how a ‘young guy' like Eli Manning could keep leading comebacks, Shockey said, "You only get one year to be a young guy.''

Shockey was speaking from experience. He is 25 but hardly a young guy. Shockey is in his fourth season. He's all grown up.

Tribute to a friendship

Maybe the best way to sum up Wellington Mara's humanity is to consider one of his last visitors before passing away.

Shockey and Mara would seem to be the unlikeliest of friends. One crashed into the NFL with attitude, the other spent 80 NFL years trying to meld into the background. But they grew close after the Giants drafted Shockey in the first round in 2002. Shockey appreciated that Mara didn't judge him on his off-field antics.

But then, Mara and Lawrence Taylor were close as well. And so Shockey and Tiki Barber got the call to visit Mara, as it turned out, the day before he died. They were thankful to be chosen.

"He's strong and such a beautiful person,'' Shockey said, "and I feel very honored to get to know a person like that.''

Green on IR – again

Not to kick the man while he's down, but it's hard to imagine a free agent signee who's been more of a bust the past two years than linebacker Barrett Green.

Between setting up part-time residence in Tom Coughlin's doghouse to suffering repeated injuries, Green has had a rough go since coming over from Detroit prior to last season.

It's Green's second straight year landing on injured reserve. Last season he went on IR on Dec. 20, but not before several incidents with Coughlin. Green went to the union when he was fined for breaking Coughlin's five-minute-early meeting rule. He was benched on defense for the game against his former team, Detroit, after showing up late to work. He also drew Coughlin's ire by getting ejected against Philadelphia.

Green couldn't wait for a fresh start this season. Instead he's back to where he started and the Giants are down a linebacker.

A primary concern in the secondary

It has become clear that the only way a Giants defensive back is going to get an interception is if he's not looking and the ball lodges between his facemask. Have you ever seen a team drop so many potential interceptions?

Another couple missed opportunities revealed themselves in the Broncos game when Gibril Wilson and Curtis Deloatch had balls go through their hands. Imagine the Giants' plus-minus ratio, already darn impressive, if their secondary caught a ball or five?

What is it with these guys? You have to assume they are being drilled during practice on the art of catching the football. But it's as if they all do their best Will Allen come kickoff. At some point the only explanation is no explanation. The effort is there. All that's missing is the execution.

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