Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel, Etc.

Signing Jai Lewis, the basketball player from the NCAA Final Four's feel-good Cinderella-story, George Mason, might not have been a mistake -- but announcing it was.

The Giants are particular about how they release the names of undrafted free agents with whom they have come to agreements. Only after the players pass their physicals and return signed contracts are they announced to the media.

But Lewis, the 6-7, 275-pound power forward -- "I'm really 290," he said -- slipped through the cracks. It's not that he isn't going to be at mini-camp May 13 and 15, it's just that he wasn't supposed to be announced yet.

There are roughly 15 others the Giants had targeted immediately after the draft was completed, and the most current information is that all have agreed to contract terms. But news of their presence is pending, since they haven't yet taken physicals or returned signed contracts.

Lewis is intriguing.

"He's a project," said general manager Ernie Accorsi, "but he is such a great athlete it's worth it. He played football and was highly recruited for that sport (Virginia Tech and North Carolina were two of the suitors), but he chose basketball instead."

Lewis is going to be tried as a tight end if he can lose 15-20 pounds or a defensive end if he can't. In fact, if he finds it difficult to shed the weight, he might be asked to put on 10-15 more to compete at offensive tackle.

"He is a great athlete and he has quick feet, and it isn't as though he never played football," Accorsi continued. "He worked out for us about two weeks before the draft and he was very impressive."

There have been others in recent years who came to the NFL directly from basketball and did well -- the most notable example is San Diego tight end Antonio Gates, perhaps the best in the NFL at his position. He played only basketball at Kent State, was given a chance because of high school excellence in football, and has blossomed into a Pro Bowl performer.

"I am grateful for the chance," Lewis said. "I think I can do this. I know I loved football in high school and I did play some tight end. But never offensive tackle."


--Coach Tom Coughlin, when pushed, admitted that newly acquired LaVar Arrington has been moved back to SLB, and said that at the moment his starting trio would be Arrington, Antonio Pierce in the middle and Carlos Emmons at WLB. He would not comment on rumors that the Giants are contemplating a switch to a 3-4 base alignment, saying only, "We use a three-man front frequently during a game."

--The loss of WLB-MLB Nick Greisen to the Jacksonville Jaguars will become a problem if reserve Reggie Torbor can't make enough happen. Greisen couldn't stay with the Giants once he demanded that he be allowed to play inside, which for a 4-3 team means the MLB. That is Pierce's position.

--Prior to training camp, the starting secondary shapes up as Corey Webster and Sam Madison at CB, Will Demps at FS and Gibril Wilson at SS. Webster was a rookie (second round pick) last year, and Madison and Demps came to the team as free agents. Wilson is the only holdover in the secondary.

--The Giants' second-round draft choice, WR Sinorice Moss, is the younger brother of Washington's Santana Moss. He is just 5-8 but weighs 185 and was timed in 4.37 seconds for the 40-yard dash. He will probably become the third WR in a short time, vaulting over the injury-prone Tim Carter and Jamaar Taylor.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We have never actually raced, so I don't know which one of us is faster. I do know that I get to play against him twice this season, and that my quarterback (Eli Manning) gets to play against his brother (Peyton, Indianapolis Colts), so that will give us something else in common." -- WR Sinorice Moss, brother of Redskins WR Santana Moss




UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Terrell Buckley; RB Michael Cloud; LB Jay Foreman; LB Roman Phifer.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR Lamont Brightful.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR/KR Willie Ponder; TE Visanthe Shiancoe.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Tim Carter; QB Tim Hasselbeck; OG Lewis Kelly; RB/KR Chad Morton; WR David Tyree; CB Frank Walker; OT Bob Whitfield.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB LaVar Arrington; CB Jason Bell; S Will Demps; S Quentin Harris; CB Sam Madison; CB R.W. McQuarters; G/C Grey Ruegamer; LB Brandon Short.

PLAYERS LOST: S Brent Alexander; DT Kenderick Allen; CB Will Allen; DT Kendrick Clancy; LB Barrett Green; LB Nick Greisen; OG Jason Whittle; S Shaun Williams.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.

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