Hot Topic and Player Notes

Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis says he feels "challenged" by all the changes made to his unit during the Giants' off-season.

"The personnel we got, all the personnel, it's pretty exciting," he said. "You never anticipate this much change. It was a big off-season. See, I'm an assistant coach, and I'm involved in the evaluation process, but not in the decision-making process. I am very excited."

One of the areas that might prove to be somewhat less exciting to this defensive architect who is respected on a league-wide basis is the secondary. Last season, until injuries began nibbling away, the four starters were Will Allen and Will Peterson on the corners; Brent Alexander at free safety and Gibril Wilson at strong safety.

Now only Wilson remains. Allen signed with Miami during the free-agent signing period. Peterson was waived injured because of his recurring and apparently chronic stress fracture in that part of the lower back known as the transverse process. Alexander either retired or was waived, perhaps both once the team indicated that retirement might be a good idea.

Now Wilson will be surrounded by three new starters -- at the moment, they appear to be second-year Corey Webster and Sam Madison on the corners with Will Demps at free safety. Webster was the Giants' second-round pick in 2004, and has played surprisingly well from Day One. Madison was signed from Miami (a sort of back-handed swap of corners between the teams). Demps was another free-agent signee from Baltimore.

"I am going to push Gibril to be a leader back there," Lewis says. "I hope he is ready for that. We'll find out. I'll try to lead him and guide him and help him that way. So we'll find out."

With the enormity of the personnel upheaval that took place, the Giants' defense -- on paper -- appears to be considerably improved (and healthy once again). If the pass rush is as dynamic as it appears to be, and if the linebackers have as much impact as it appears they will, the pressure might be lifted from this new secondary.

On the other hand, the secondary, according to Lewis, might be able to stand alone. That is not what offensive coordinators want to hear. In fact, someone asked Lewis a comical question: "Is it true that you actually don't want the opposing quarterback (to be able) to throw a single pass next year?"

He smiled, and answered: "Yeah, that would be good. But it's kind of a balancing act. If they aren't throwing the ball, they are probably running it. You don't want to get a ton of those either if you aren't stopping it."

See, coordinators are always worrying about something.

PLAYER NOTES

--The Giants and the New York Jets, who have agreed to build and then share a new stadium (which will be ready by 2010) announced that they will also agree to sell naming rights. It is expected that this will be the most expensive stadium-naming in NFL history, since it involves two teams and is located in the New York area. One can only hope it will also bear a tribute to the late Wellington Mara, who died last October after 80 years with the team as ball boy, general manager, scout and president.

--Defensive coordinator Tim Lewis is more than just cursorily familiar with his new strong-side linebacker, LaVar Arrington. "He grew up in Pittsburgh and I was from Quakertown, so I followed his career right from high school. I can't tell you how excited I am to finally have the chance to work with him."

--CB Curtis Deloatch received $221,005 in additional income from the NFL's Performance Based Pay system, eighth highest figure in the league. SS Gibril Wilson was the only other Giant in the top 25, earning a "bonus," if you will, of $207, 549. The payouts are the result of an agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA to offer a supplemental form of player compensation based on a comparison of playing time to salary.

--Former Giant strong-side linebacker Alonzo Jackson, who started the first round playoff game (the 23-0 whipping by Carolina) and was then released when the season was over, signed as a free agent with the New York Jets.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin, who has made no attempt to hide his desire to upgrade the team's backup quarterback situation, now has a former player, Rob Johnson (who was his backup and sometimes starter in Jacksonville) on the roster.

What does this mean for veteran Tim Hasselbeck? Not much good news here, it would seem. Johnson, who has missed two seasons with Tommy John surgery, is throwing well and has 10 years of NFL experience.

Now second-year Jared Lorenzen, the hulking 6-3, 285-pound back third QB last season, has been throwing darts and impressing the coaches with his accuracy and energy. "He's just a big man and he's going to have to live with that (weight)," Coughlin says. "It's not that he's overweight. He's just big."

It could be that in a three-man race, Hasselbeck is going to be the odd man out.

The Giants announced the signing of RB Little John Flowers, 6-0 and 215, who last played in the NFL for the New York Jets and played for the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe this spring. He had 75 carries for 283 yards and two touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 112 yards and another TD. Flowers, a product of Michigan State, is named for the "Little John" character in Robin Hood. FRANCHISE PLAYER: None TRANSITION PLAYER: None. UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

--CB/KR Lamont Brightful (not tendered as RFA).

--CB Terrell Buckley (not tendered June 1).

--RB Michael Cloud (not tendered June 1).

--LB Roman Phifer (not tendered June 1). RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None. EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None. PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

--WR Tim Carter: UFA; $2M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB.

--QB Tim Hasselbeck: UFA; terms unknown.

--OG Lewis Kelly: UFA; terms unknown.

--RB/KR Chad Morton: UFA; terms unknown.

--WR/KR Willie Ponder: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

--TE Visanthe Shiancoe: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

--WR David Tyree: RFA; $7.5M/5 yrs, $1.5M SB.

--CB Frank Walker: RFA; $721,600/1 yr.

--OT Bob Whitfield: UFA; terms unknown. PLAYERS ACQUIRED

--LB LaVar Arrington FA Redskins; $49M/7 yrs, $5.25M SB.

--CB Jason Bell: UFA Texans; terms unknown.

--S Will Demps: UFA Ravens; 5 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Quentin Harris: UFA Cardinals; terms unknown.

--DT Junior Ioane: FA Texans; terms unknown.

--QB Rob Johnson: FA; terms unknown.

--CB Sam Madison: FA Dolphins; $7.4M/4 yrs, $2M SB; 2006 cap: $1.4M.

--CB R.W. McQuarters: UFA Lions; $6M/3 yrs, $2M SB.

--G/C Grey Ruegamer: UFA Packers; $750,000/1 yr, $40,000 SB; 2006 cap: $465,000.

--LB Brandon Short: FA Panthers; terms unknown.

--TE Boo Williams: FA Saints; terms unknown. PLAYERS LOST

--S Brent Alexander (released).

--DT Kenderick Allen: RFA rights terminated/Packers; terms unknown.

--CB Will Allen: UFA Dolphins; $12M/4 yrs, SB unknown.

--DT Kendrick Clancy: UFA Cardinals; $8.1M/4 yrs, SB unknown.

--LB Jay Foreman: UFA Saints; terms unknown.

--LB Barrett Green (released).

--LB Nick Greisen: UFA Jaguars; 2 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Will Peterson (released/failed physical).

--WR Jamaar Taylor (retired).

--OG Jason Whittle (released).

--S Shaun Williams: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.

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