Offseason program off to quiet start

At the end of last season, Eli Manning said somewhat seriously that he would consider training in Miami this offseason in order to be with tight end Jeremy Shockey and receiver Plaxico Burress. On the first day of media availability during the Giants offseason workout program, Manning cleared the air and said he plans to be at Giants Stadium all offseason.

"I don't think I'll go to Miami to work out with them, even for short periods, Manning said. "I've got to be here. This is where my coaches are and I can lift here and work out here and study film here. I think we'll get them to come up here a few times. After a full season [last year] we're pretty much on the same page when it comes to patterns and timing and stuff like that."

Pierce ready to go

MLB Antonio Pierce has cleared himself for action.

"Everything is fine," he said of the high ankle sprain that kept him out of the Giants' final four games last season. "It's 100 percent. I could play today if I had to; I've been working out hard for the past three weeks. It's 100 percent now. It's all good."

It's borderline impossible to talk to Pierce and not have LaVar Arrington become the topic of conversation. Pierce and Arrington are not only former teammates in Washington, but close friends as well.

"I think he likes New York and I think he wants to play here," Pierce said. "But it's just the dollars now. He likes it here. I was with him when he made his visit here. We drove around. He is familiar with the area. He has family in New York and New Jersey. He says he likes the entertainment."

Needless to say, Pierce thinks LA and NY would be a match made in heaven.

"He would be a perfect fit for this defense," Pierce said. "He is a nasty, aggressive defensive player. He brings an attitude that you like; it's his personality. He just plays that way."

Pierce had made it perfectly clear to GM Ernie Accorsi that he thinks the defense needs Arrington.

"If we had LaVar," he said, "it would be kind of difficult for offenses, you know? You can't block [defensive end] Osi Umenyiora, [defensive end] Michael Strahan and LaVar all at the same time. Just can't do it.

"I think we can have a defense like the Giants have been famous for having. You know, the kind of defense that took them to their two Super Bowls in the 1980s, and even before that, in the ‘50s and ‘60s. The Giants were known for their defense. We can do that again."

However, not everyone on defense is totally sold on Arrington.

"I feel like we can play with what we have, but that's not my decision," Umenyiora said.

"His name is not going to win us football games," Reggie Torbor added.

Big man on island

Osi Umenyiora said he felt lost when he first got to Honolulu for his first Pro Bowl.

"At first I was definitely an outsider," Umenyiora smiled, "but once Michael (Strahan) got there I was fine."

Obviously most of the Pro Bowlers are repeat attendees. Umenyiora hopes to add his name to that list next season and feels he's ready for the challenge.

"The pressure's a good thing," he said. "I welcome the challenge. When I look at tape of last year, I could have been so much better."

Umenyiora also admits that his job may be tougher now that DT Kendrick Clancy has moved on to Arizona.

"I almost passed out," Umenyiora said upon learning that Clancy was joining the Cards. "He was a real good player."

As for the depth behind him, Umenyiora said the Giants have quite a find in last year's third-round pick Justin Tuck.

"Tuck is way, way better than I was as a rookie," Umenyiora said.

The Giants and their fans can only hope he's right.

Elsewhere on the LB front

Reggie Torbor said he is still trying to get his hamstring "right." He said he wasn't worried though because "I've got a while until I have to get back on the field."

As for the club's current linebacking situation, Torbor said, "we need bodies. There are only four of us. We can't go into the season with just four backers."

Back in Black

Linebacker Chase Blackburn, who was carted off the field in Washington on Dec. 24 and missed the season's final two games with a neck injury, said he is fully recovered.

"There are no lasting effects," Blackburn said. "I feel real good. I have full movement, full range. The first hit, maybe I'll be a little wary of. But once I get it and nothing comes back, it's full go again."

Blackburn has taken steps to ensure he doesn't suffer a similar injury.

"I have a little thicker neck," he said. "I put an inch on my neck by working on it every day. That was my whole rehab, strengthening my neck. Once it healed I put a little thickness on it to make sure it couldn't move as far."

Extra cash

Giants defensive backs Curtis Deloatch and Gibril Wilson were among the top 25 recipients of additional compensation under the NFL's "Performance Based Pay" system.

Deloatch was eighth on the list and received an additional $221,005. Wilson was 18th and received $207,549.

When the NFL and the NFL Players Association extended the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2002, they created a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary. In 2005, the fund totaled more than $79 million ($2.481 million per team). It will grow to approximately $96 million in 2006 and $100 million in 2007.

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