Most recently in the fold is veteran Rob Johnson, who has not played in the NFL for two seasons.
What's that? How does that compute? How can that be justified?
Well, first of all, the 34-year old was a fourth-round draft choice of the
Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 out of USC, and guess who the head coach was?
Right, Tom Coughlin, the current Giants' head coach.
He has started (did that once for Coughlin) and has played for five NFL
teams -- Jacksonville, Buffalo, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Washington -- and while he
has never become a household name or a Pro Bowl player, he did acquire a
reputation as a smart, experienced "teacher," if you will, of young quarterbacks.
In fact, when he decided to temporarily retire, he returned to Laguna Beach,
Cal., where he and his dad, Bob, and his brother Bret operated Camp
Quarterback. A few of the former campers include Carson Palmer, David Carr and Drew Brees.
Johnson also has that most prized possession -- a Super Bowl ring -- which
he received as a backup for Tampa Bay.
"I wanted this as long as my arm was healthy," he said, "because it's no fun
at all to play when you're hurting."
It was in 1998, Johnson's fourth year in the NFL and first with the Bills,
when he hurt his passing arm. "I hit it on somebody's helmet," he said, "and it
just got progressively weaker. I never actually blew it out, but they [the
doctors] said the elbow ligament looked like a rope frayed at the end. I was having
trouble gripping the ball, so I went for the 'Tommy John' surgery. They took a
ligament out of my wrist -- some people have an extra one there, and I did --
and stuck it in the elbow."
Now, almost two years after the surgery that takes at least 18 months to
recover from, he is ready to compete. He'll find Tim Hasselbeck (the incumbent
backup), Jared Lorenzen and a free agent named Josh Harris. There are still rumors
circulating that Jay Fiedler and even former Giant Kerry Collins are also under
"When I'm healthy I can compete," Johnson says. "I love the competition. And
now I'm healthy."
Johnson's last NFL touchdown pass came on December 23, 2002, when he hit
wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson for an 18-yarder in a 17-7 Monday night loss to
Pittsburgh. Six days later he made his last start, taking the Buccaneers to a 15-0
victory over Chicago.
--A little mystery has been solved. Two weeks ago, the Giants announced the
signing of defensive tackle Junior Ioane, 6-3 and 335, a six-year veteran who
last played for Houston.
A day later they announced he had been released.
The assumption was that he failed a physical, but the Giants won't sign a
player until he passes that exam. Now it can be explained.
The NFL determined that there was a glitch in the contract, and refused to
accept it. When that happens, the pencil-pushers take over and, technically
speaking, Ioane didn't have a contract. That meant he was a free agent -- and it
was generally reported that he had been released.
That's the technical side.
The reality is just a little different. The Giants cleared up the
contractual error and re-signed him. So the NFL machine geared up again, announcing that
the Giants had signed defensive tackle Junior Ioane, who had so recently been
Ioane might be more important than the casual observer might think. It is
more than casually obvious that the Giants are considering a conversion to the
3-4 defense. With the loss of Kendrick Clancy, a departure via the UFA route to
Arizona, there was no suitable nose tackle on the roster.
The most likely candidate was William Joseph, the first round pick in 2003,
but he isn't constructed in the true mold of a nose tackle. Clancy was. So is
Ioane, an Arizona State product familiar with that demanding and thankless
So now he's on the roster -- in good graces, contractually speaking -- and
may well wind up as the starter in the three-man front with Pro Bowl ends
Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora.
--QB Rob Johnson, drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars when current Giants'
head coach Tom Coughlin filled that role there, is also familiar with two
current members of the coaching staff -- quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride and
running backs coach Jerald Ingram. Also, assistant athletic trainer Byron Hansen was
the head trainer at USC when Johnson was an undergrad.
--Several rumors of position changes involving players have circulated,
including DE Justin Tuck to defensive tackle or strong-side linebacker; DT William
Joseph to defensive end; No. 1 draft pick Mathias Kiwanuka from defensive end
to strong-side linebacker; and right guard Chris Snee to center. As usual, there
was no comment from the coaching staff.
--PK Jay Feely missed only seven field goals all season (three in that OT
loss to Seattle) and set a team record with 148 kick-scoring points. Seen in the
team locker room last week, he smiled when reminded about the Seahawks' game.
"I guess that's never going to go away, is it?"
--DE Michael Strahan, a six-time Pro Bowl veteran, was asked how he will
treat the No. 1 pick, DE Mathias Kiwanuka. "I'll tell him what he has to do, and
how he should go about things," he said. "But this is the NFL. They don't want
me to be his babysitter."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "My dad's quarterback camp this spring included Kellen Clemens (Jets' second round draft pick) and some of those guys and I could throw with
them. It was a matter of whether I could do that, throw as long and make it
through two-a-day practices. I did. I'm ready." -- Giants' newest QB, Rob Johnson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): WR Lamont Brightful; CB
Terrell Buckley; RB Michael Cloud; LB Kevin Lewis; LB Roman Phifer.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Visanthe Shiancoe.
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: WR Tim Carter; QB Tim Hasselbeck; OG Lewis Kelly; RB/KR
Chad Morton; WR/KR Willie Ponder; WR David Tyree; CB Frank Walker; OT Bob Whitfield.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: LB LaVar Arrington; CB Jason Bell; S Will Demps; S Quentin Harris; DT Junior Ioane; QB Rob Johnson; 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 Jay Foreman; LB Barrett Green; LB Nick Greisen; CB Will
Peterson; OG Jason Whittle; S Shaun Williams.
Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Personnel, Etc.
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