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Big Blue returns every starter from last year's high-powered unit that averaged 26.4 points per game, good for third in the NFL. New York is hopeful Eli Manning, coming off a terrible playoff loss to Carolina, makes big strides as he enters his second full season as a starter. For now, Tim Hasselbeck backs up Manning, but the Giants are admittedly in the market for another veteran backup.

In the backfield, there's the one and only Tiki Barber. He continues to get better with age. Having just turned 31, Barber is coming off his best season ever, breaking his own all-time Giants single-season rushing mark with 1,860 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. New York eschewed an opportunity to add RB depth in the draft, instead planning to rely on Brandon Jacobs in short-yardage situations and Derrick Ward to spell Barber.

When considering the receiving options Manning has at his disposal, it's obvious this Giants offense is loaded. Plaxico Burress is coming off a breakout season with 1,214 yards, during which he averaged a gaudy 16 yards per catch and reached the end zone seven times. Amani Toomer offers a solid, if not spectacular, second receiver. Jeremy Shockey, if healthy, is still one of the most dangerous receiving tight ends in the game. The second-round draft addition of WR Sinorice Moss from Miami can only help.


While the Giants offense needed no tinkering, the same could not be said for the other side of the ball. The biggest move was the addition of three-time Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, who eventually agreed to a cap-friendly seven-year, $49 million pact after a lengthy courtship. He'll give the defense yet another pass-rushing threat. He joins stud MLB Antonio Pierce and a weak-side tandem of Brandon Short and Carlos Emmons that gives Big Blue a much-improved LB corps.

On the line, the free agent loss of Kendrick Clancy, the club's best DT last season, is going to hurt. However, New York's expected to play a 4-3 base defense with more of a 3-4 flavor this season. On the ends, New York boasts a pair of Pro Bowlers – perennial Hawaii participant Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, one of the game's rising stars who's coming off his first of many free vacations to Honolulu.

The area with the biggest upheaval was the secondary, which was much needed. Gone are Will Allen, Brent Alexander and likely Will Peterson, who's not being counted on to return from a serious back injury. In their places are veteran Pro Bowler CB Sam Madison, free safety Will Demps and Corey Webster, the club's top pick in 2005. New York returns its leading tackler, strong safety Gibril Wilson, who had 110 stops last year.


Despite his hat trick of misses in Seattle that defined his season, kicker Jay Feely was incredibly accurate and gave the Giants one of the league's top kickers. Feely knocked through 35-of-42 FG tries and all 43 of his PATs en route to a record-breaking season of 148 points, which was good for second in the entire NFL in scoring. The punter, Jeff Feagles, is returning for a 19th – and almost definitely final – season. He averaged more than 42 yards per boot last year and remains one of the game's best at dropping punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. Chad Morton did an excellent job on returns last year, handling both the punt return chores (9.6 yards per) and kickoffs (23.3).


The Giants are entering year three of the Tom Coughlin experiment, having reached the playoffs likely one year earlier than anyone could have expected. After a volatile beginning to his tenure, Coughlin and his key veterans now appear to be on the same page. Coughlin is known for his offensive wizardry and last year's high-scoring output did nothing to dispel that notion. Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, who likes to mix the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, is a good one, as he interviewed for four different head-coaching posts this past offseason.


Tight end Jeremy Shockey has been one that has suffered from various ailments through the years, but hasn't missed much game time recently. The Giants offense needs Shockey healthy. The addition of Moss in the second round should do wonders for the reserve receivers. No two players have been more injury-prone the past couple seasons than Tim Carter and Jamaar Taylor. If either is unable to make it through a full season, don't expect to see that player return in 2007. Fortunately for the Giants, their big stars have mostly been able to stay healthy in recent seasons.


There's no reason to think this year's offense is going to be anything other than improved from last season's version with the same unit back intact and better depth at some spots. The defending division champs, however, have to hope the Redskins, Cowboys and Eagles of the world didn't do enough to pass them by. It's difficult to envision the revamped secondary not being a huge upgrade from last season, and the addition of Arrington is expected to revitalize and energize the defense. A tough schedule, especially at the start, will be key to New York's '06 success.

2006 DRAFT

1 (32) Mathias Kiwanuka, DE – Boston College

2 (44) Sinorice Moss, WR – Miami

3 (96) Gerris Wilkinson, LB – Georgia Tech

4 (124) Barry Cofield, DT – Northwestern

4 (129) Guy Whimper, OT – East Carolina

5 (158) Charlie Peprah, S – Alabama

7 (232) Gerrick McPhearson, CB – Maryland

Analysis: With DE one of the strongest positions on the club, it was very surprising to see the selection of Kiwanuka, but team brass promises that he'll have a big defensive impact this season. Moss gives them a legitimate number three receiver with game-breaking speed. Wilkinson and Whimper both have the coaching staff excited with their athleticism and potential. Wilkinson can play any LB spot and Whimper projects to left tackle. With the free agent defection of Kendrick Clancy, Cofield has a decent chance to start as a rookie.

Grade: B


1) Tiki Barber, running back: The Giants all-time greatest back is coming off his best season ever. Slow down after reaching 30 years old? You can forget about that. He averaged more than 115 yards per game last year and scored 11 total TDs, nine rushing.

2) Eli Manning, quarterback: Coming off a season where he threw for 24 touchdowns and 3,762 yards, you can expect a more confident and comfortable Manning to improve by leaps and bounds this season.

3) Plaxico Burress, wide receiver: He came in during his first year as a Giant and showed plenty of explosiveness. He easily led the team with 76 grabs for 1,214 yards and shows no signs of slowing up.

4) Jeremy Shockey, tight end: With 65 catches for 891 yards, it was a down year for Shockey. That speaks volumes of what he's capable of if he can stay healthy all season.

5) Amani Toomer, wide receiver: Sometimes being the forgotten man pays dividends. While not always happy and content last season, Toomer did chip in 60 receptions for 684 yards and a team-high-tying seven TDs.


The addition of Pro Bowl veterans LaVar Arrington and Sam Madison makes this defense much more of a turnover-forcing threat.

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