Giants News and Notes

Pierce holding out hope Linebacker Antonio Pierce missed his fourth consecutive game because of the ankle injury he suffered at Philadelphia on Dec. 11, but he remains hopeful of returning this month if the Giants advance in the playoffs.

"I'm very optimistic I'll come back," Pierce said. "The cast will be off (this) week, so I'll start working then. As long as we keep moving in the playoffs, my chances are greater coming back. We'll have to see what happens."

Pierce has been walking on the leg when the cast is removed during his weekly visits to the doctor's office.

"There's just so much pain and instability that I can take," he said. "They put me in a cast because I walked on it too much initially. I probably worsened it myself thinking it wasn't as bad as I thought. They know me – if it's off, I'm walking on it. They're protecting me more than anything else."

Tiki tops for week, month

Tiki Barber was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week, the second time in three games and the third time this season he has received the award. Barber rushed for 203 yards on 28 carries and caught six passes for 60 yards at Oakland. His biggest play was a 95-yard touchdown run, which was the longest run in Giants history, breaking a record set by Hap Moran in 1930.

Barber is the first Giant to win the award three times in a season since it was instituted in 1984. The Giants won four of the 2005 season's NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards. Plaxico Burress received the other, after his 10-catch, 204-yard performance against St. Louis on Oct. 2.

Barber was also named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for December. In December, Barber rushed for 742 yards in five games (148.4 a game), with four 100-yard games and two 200-yard games (a team-record 220 yards vs. Kansas City and 203 yards in New York's NFC East-clinching victory in Oakland). He rushed for three touchdowns and set several team records, including most rushing yards in a season (1,860), most total yards in a season (2,390) and most career rushing touchdowns (50). Barber also caught 23 passes for 218 yards and another score.

This is the fifth time a Giants player has received a Player of the Month award since they were instituted in 1986. Barber is the only two-time winner. He was honored in November 2002. Kerry Collins earned the award the following month. The other Giants winners were Phil Simms in December 1986 and David Meggett in September 1994.

Good sport

Barber was not at all upset that Seattle's Shaun Alexander rushed for 73 yards on the season's final Sunday to wrestle away the NFL rushing title by 20 yards.

"I have to call him up and give him crap about it," said Barber, who finished the season with 1,860 rushing yards. "He got a touchdown early and got that record, then he stayed in to get the rushing title. But I don't fault him, not after last year when he missed it by a yard (to Curtis Martin). I know it's something that meant a lot to him. I'm proud of him. He's a great guy. We have a lot in common. We get along very well. I'm more than happy to be his runner-up."

Barber also finished fourth in the NFL Most Valuable Player award voting, behind Alexander and quarterbacks Peyton Manning of Indianapolis and Tom Brady of New England.

"It's nice to be mentioned with all of those great players in the NFL," Barber said. "It's something you remember. But the most important thing is, as coach Coughlin always reminds us and is very true to me, is that team success is most important. We've had a lot of that, and that's what I care about."


The Giants posted several very impressive showings during the 2005 season…

The Giants' 422 points were the second-highest total in franchise history, exceeded only by the 448 points scored by the 1963 team. Their 5,787 total yards were also second-most in team history. The 1985 Giants gained 5,884 yards. The Giants' 312 first downs were the fifth-most in team history…

The Giants' offense ranked fourth in the NFL with an average of 361.7 yards a game. That is the team's highest ranking since 1972, when the offense also ranked fourth (with an average of 320.2 yards a game)…

The Giants rushed for 2,209 yards on 469 attempts, a 4.7-yard average that was the best in team history. Tiki Barber led the way with a 5.2-yard average…

The Giants became only the fifth team in NFL history to have five different players score at least seven touchdowns. Barber scored 11, and Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Brandon Jacobs scored seven apiece. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the other teams to have five players with seven or more touchdowns apiece were the 1950 Rams, 1966 Chiefs, 1985 Chargers and 2004 Chiefs…

Only two NFL teams boasted a 1,000-yard rusher, receiver and kicker (yardage based on total distance of field goals) in 2005. They were the Giants: Tiki Barber (1,860), Plaxico Burress (1,214) and Jay Feely (1,249); and the Rams: Stephen Jackson (1,046), Torry Holt (1,331) and Jeff Wilkins (1,036)…

Jay Feely led all NFL kickers with 148 points, the first Giants kicker to hold the top spot since Don Chandler in 1963 (106 points). Feely tied a team record with a career-high 35 field goals and was a perfect 43-for-43 on extra point attempts…

Osi Umenyiora was first in the NFC and second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks…

Chad Morton has played only one season for the Giants, but he is already eighth on the team's career list with 453 punt return yards.

Roster moves

The Giants placed linebacker Roman Phifer on injured reserve and promoted linebacker Marcus Lawrence from the practice squad to take his roster spot.

Phifer, 37, was signed on Dec. 19 to provide depth after several Giants linebackers suffered injuries, but he developed issues with his knee after just one day of practice and played sparingly in the Giants' final two regular season games.

"He was never able to physically get it done," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He had some knee issues that began to pop up. It was just to the point where we couldn't – we weren't able to get him healthy enough to play him on Sunday or on game day and so it didn't look like as if that was going to get any better. The medical people advised that it wasn't going to improve."

Lawrence joined the practice squad on Nov. 2. The 6-2, 245-pounder was not selected in this year's NFL Draft but signed with Carolina on April 29. He was waived on Aug. 29. As a senior at South Carolina, Lawrence started all 11 games and finished fourth on the team with 57 tackles. He had 99 tackles as a junior.

To take Lawrence's place on the practice squad, the Giants signed linebacker Tyson Smith, who was in training camp with the Baltimore Ravens last summer. Smith was a four-year starter as a defensive end at Iowa State, where he had 225 tackles and 12.5 sacks.

Moving forward

The Giants have signed five players to reserve/futures contract for the 2006 season:

Quarterback Josh Harris from Bowling Green was a sixth-round draft choice by the Baltimore Ravens in 2004. Harris played in the preseason for the Ravens in 2004 and the Cleveland Browns in 2005 and completed 22-of-46 passes for 223 yards…

Guard Enoch Demar started 11 games at left guard for the 2004 Cleveland Browns. He also played in five games as a rookie in 2003. The 6-4, 310-pounder played college football at Indiana University…

Guard Julius Franklin of Bethune-Cookman was in Jacksonville's training camp last summer…

Safety Adrian Mayes of LSU played in three games for the Arizona Cardinals this season. He had two special teams tackles…

Punter Travis Dorsch of Purdue was in camp with Cincinnati in 2002-03, Green Bay in 2004 and Minnesota last summer, when he averaged 31.8 yards on five preseason punts.

Quote of the Week

"I go into it thinking that we have one game at a time and I think this team will move on to the next. And why can't it be us? We are no different than anybody else in this thing. The teams who are all in it are teams that we have either beaten or should have beaten, basically. And so why not let us be the team that goes on and rises above everyone else and gets this thing done? There is no reason why we shouldn't." – Michael Strahan on New York's playoff prospects

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