It's about time. In fact, it's way past time.
Last week the team sponsored a celebratory luncheon for Carson at a midtown
Manhattan location, and those present to roast and toast the one-time fourth
round draft pick via South Carolina State were former head coach Bill Parcells,
New England head coach Bill Belichick, San Diego head coach Marty Schottenheimer, linebacker Lawrence Taylor, nose tackle Jim Burt, linebacker Carl Banks,
linebacker Pepper Johnson and quarterback Phil Simms.
Of interest was Carson's explanation of his action two years ago, when he
wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame selection committee demanding that his name be
taken off the ballot. He was simply fed up with so many snubs.
"I know what I accomplished," he said. "I know that I helped my team win and
that I went to the Pro Bowl nine times. Making it so difficult for this Hall of
Fame induction simply wore on me. It was frustrating and it was somewhat
demeaning and I thought it would be better if I simply withdrew my name."
That was, of course, a facade to mask his disappointment. "When I was
finally inducted," he said, "I remember Mr. [Wellington] Mara told me how proud he
was of me, of the teams that I played on, and that it had been one of his most
important wishes that I be enshrined. I was very touched. I am saddened by the
fact that he won't be here to see it happen." Mara, the patriarch of the team and
the NFL, died last October 25 at the age of 89.
It was with obvious joy that Parcells congratulated Carson. "Each year guys
would call me and ask whether I thought Harry deserved to be in the Hall of
Fame," said the current Dallas Cowboys' head coach, "and each time I said he
absolutely deserved it, that the Hall of Fame was poorer without him there. They
said I was prejudiced because Harry played for me. Well, I was prejudiced. I have
always respected spectacular athletes."
It took a lot of years, far too many, but Carson has made it to this small
piece of pro football immortality. Considering the performance and stature of
some who went in before him, it is a well-deserved and long overdue honor.
CAMP CALENDAR: Training camp opens on the campus of the University of
Albany, N.Y. on July 28 and closes Aug. 24. Unlike previous years, there will be no
inter-squad scrimmage with the New York Jets or New England Patriots, or are
there any other special events.
--When Jai Lewis announced that he would not report to training camp and was
abandoning his attempt to make the transition from college basketball to pro
football, one of the veterans snapped: "Well, there goes our basketball team."
Lewis had been a starter on the George Mason University team that astonished the
nation last April by advancing to the NCAA Division I Final Four. He had been
attempting to earn a position as an OT.
--LT Kareem McKenzie, asked what he planned to do for the six weeks between
the end of the minicamp and the start of training camp, just smiled. "I'm going
to drink coffee, read the financial papers and not do much of anything else,"
he said. "This is the last time to get any rest until next February."
--Early indications are that Rob Johnson is the front-runner for the backup
QB job, which would mean the unseating of last year's understudy to Eli Manning, Tim Hasselbeck. Johnson played for head coach Tom Coughlin when both were in
Jacksonville, and in fact it was Coughlin who drafted Johnson out of USC. "I
know what coach Coughlin is like and I know what he wants from his players,"
Johnson said. "I'm prepared."
--Virtually unnoticed, UFA signee Grey Ruegamer is listed as the backup RG
behind Chris Snee. Ruegamer is 6-4 and 300, a seven-year veteran out of Arizona State.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Of all the players I have been associated with over 30 years
in the NFL, I think Harry Carson is as respected as any player. I mean on the
field and off the field. He is a quality individual and he was a pleasure to
coach." -- Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick, who was the Giants' defensive
coordinator for nine years during his 12-year tenure (1979-1990).
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The only personnel move reported by the Giants was the decision on the part
of rookie OT Jai Lewis (6-5, 292) not to pursue pro football. The former
basketball star at George Mason University, who played in the final four last April,
decided not to continue his attempt to switch sports. "My heart just wasn't in
it," he said. "I want to see if I can keep playing basketball."
QUARTERBACK: Starter -- Eli Manning. Backups -- Tim Hasselbeck, Rob Johnson,
If Manning plays up to his hype, the offense should be more than just
dynamic this season. He has all the weapons he needs in the set of wide receivers,
tight ends and running backs, and the offensive line has become dependable and
experienced. Manning has been on the doorstep of stardom for a year now, and
might take that step this season. Johnson, a veteran who was drafted by and played
for head coach Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville, missed the last two seasons (Tommy
John surgery) but seems to have made a full recovery. He could beat out the
incumbent backup, Hasselbeck. Lorenzen is intriguing enough to be kept as the
third quarterback for yet another season.
RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- RB Tiki Barber, FB Jim Finn. Backups -- RB
Brandon Jacobs, RB Derrick Ward, RB Chad Morton, RB James Simms, FB Greg Hanoian, FB
Tony Jackson, RB Little John Flowers.
Barber is the superstar of the offense, gaining 1,860 yards last season to
trail NFL leader Sean Alexander by just 20 yards. He is accomplished as a
receiver out of the backfield as well, added 530 yards with 54 catches and, in all,
scored 11 touchdowns. He is 31 now, has remained healthy the last two seasons
after a career of injuries, and the backup is more important than ever. That
would be the gigantic (6-4, 265) Jacobs, a rookie last year who became the
designated short-yardage and goal line ball carrier and got nine touchdowns. He had
trouble with the playbook, especially blitz pickups, and worked all during the
off-season with the coaching staff. He could be something special. Finn is the
experienced fullback who is one of the NFL's better blockers. Ward is useful if
not spectacular. Morton is more a return specialist. Flowers, who has had
experience with the New York Jets, was signed as a free agent after the minicamp in
June. He could stick. Simms has a practice squad chance. Hanoian and Jackson will
contest for one possible backup job.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Jeremy Shockey. Backups -- Visanthe Shiancoe, Boo Williams, Wade Fletcher, Darcy Johnson.
Shockey, one of the NFL's elite tight ends, must stay healthy to be special.
He caught 65 passes for 891 yards and seven touchdowns last season, missing the
final game of the regular schedule but returning for the playoff game. He will
be one of Manning's top targets. Shiancoe has been a disappointment since being
drafted (third round, 2003) and this year there is competition in the form of
the veteran Williams, last active with New Orleans. Fletcher and Johnson have
almost no chance save for a practice squad berth.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Amani Toomer, Plaxico Burress. Backups -- Tim Carter, David Tyree, Willie Ponder, Michael Jennings, Anthony Mix, Harry Williams, Triandos Luke, Sinorice Moss.
Toomer, starting his 11th season, and Burress, a seven-year vet in his
second season with the Giants, will remain the starters. Each brings issues --
Toomer is older and has lost a step; Burress is a malcontent and loose cannon. But
both can be productive. Carter is the incumbent third receiver but cannot remain
healthy despite speed and ability. The second-round draft pick, Moss, might be
a game-breaker (he's the younger brother of Washington's Santana). Tyree is a
special teams ace with infrequent trips to the line of scrimmage. Ponder fell
into disfavor with Coughlin last season and stopped returning kicks. Jennings has
a chance (great speed). Mix is interesting because of size (6-4, 235) and
possible usage as a tight end and H-Back. Williams and Luke have almost no chance.
OFFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LT Luke Petitgout, LG David Diehl, C Shaun O'Hara, RG Chris Snee, RT Kareem McKenzie. Backups - G/C Rich Seubert, T Lewis Kelly, Todd Londot, G Gray Ruegamer, G Matthew Lentz, T Bob Whitfield, T Jai Lewis,
G Julius Franklin, T Na'Shan Goddard, T Ben Harrell, T Guy Whimper, T Henry Tellis.
For the second consecutive season, the five-man line returns intact. That
can only be good news. Overall, this may be one of the better groups in the NFL
with, of course, a few blemishes. One such blemish is Petitgout's penchant for
drawing false start flags. He had too many last year (five in one game) and
Coughlin calls them "stupid, wasteful offense stoppers." But he is still a veteran
left tackle with experience and smarts. Snee is on his way to a Pro Bowl, if
not this year then next. McKenzie came from the AFC (Jets) and seemed to have
needed a year to acclimate. He should be fine now. Diehl has started since the
first game of his rookie season three years ago and has played both tackle and
guard positions. O'Hara is a veteran at center. On a 1-to-10 rating system (10 is
highest) this line might get a 7. Not bad. The reserves include veterans such
as Whitfield and Ruegamer (signed this year), a veteran on the comeback
(Seubert) and a basketball star (Lewis, who went to the Final Four with George Mason).
The rest are interchangeable.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Starters -- LE Michael Strahan, LT Fred Robbins, RT William Joseph, RE Osi Umenyiora. Backups -- DT Jonas Seawright, DT Junior Ioane, DT
Damane Duckett, DE Justin Tuck, DE Adrian Awasom, DE Eric Moore, DE Thomas Carroll, DE Willie Evans, DT Marcus Green, DE Mathias Kiwanuka, DT Barry Cofield.
The two ends made the Pro Bowl, the only team with two at the same position.
Strahan, however, is 34 and should be expected to slow down just a little.
Umenyiora is 10 years younger and will only get better. He led the NFC with 14.5
sacks, three more than Strahan. They are still a dynamic pair and should cause
havoc all season. Mathias Kiwanuka will get ample opportunity as a role rusher
and Strahan's ultimate replacement. Second-year man Tuck showed lots of promise.
So did Moore, drafted as a defensive end and used on occasion at strong-side
linebacker. Robbins and Joseph are the designated starters at the tackle position
-- in pencil -- with perhaps the hottest competition of the summer scheduled to
take place at that position. The defection of Kendrick Clancy resulted in the
signing of the veteran Ioane. The emergence of second-year player Seawright
(6-6, 340) has excited the coaches. Rookie fourth-round pick Cofield has size and
speed. Duckett has some talent; Awasom is big enough to get more of a chance.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB LaVar Arrington, MLB Antonio Pierce, WLB Carlos Emmons. Backups -- SLB Reggie Torbor, MLB Chase Blackburn, WLB-SLB Brandon Short, MLB Gerris Wilkinson, WLB Nick McNeill.
This upgraded positional area might be the key to whatever success the
Giants experience. Arrington was a fortunate signing and if he gets even close to
his previous Pro Bowl performance (he is a three-timer) the strong-side position
is cemented. Pierce, Arrington's teammate when they both played in Washington
and the moving force in convincing him to sign with the Giants, was spectacular
until he suffered a high ankle sprain in the 13th game, joining a host of other
linebacker who all gathered on the bench (and then the injured reserve list)
with injuries. He is the glue to the unit, the coaches insist. Emmons, a veteran
(and another who missed eight regular season games and the playoff game as well
with a torn pectoral muscle, is healthy again and has moved to weak-side
linebacker to make room for Arrington. Torbor is a young player with size and speed.
Blackburn was an undrafted rookie and amazing the coaching staff with his
performance and learning curve. Short rejoins the Giants after leaving for Carolina
and offers a veteran presence. Wilkinson is a coveted third-round draft pick.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- RCB Corey Webster, LCB Sam Madison, FS Will Demps, SS Gibril Wilson. Backups -- CB R.W. McQuarters, CB Frank Walker, S Quentin Harris, CB Curtis Deloatch, SS James Butler, S Travis Coley, S Charlie Peprah,
CB Kevin Dockery, CB E.J. Underwood, CB Jason Bell, CB Gerrick McPhearson.
This is the most renovated, altered and adjusted area on the team, with 75
percent of the starters gone. The sole survivor is Wilson, young and on the
rise. Both corners are gone, Will Allen to Miami, Will Peterson home with physical
problems (stress fracture, lower back). FS Brent Alexander opted for retirement
rather than waivers. Will Demps (from Baltimore) is the free-agent replacement
for Alexander, Sam Madison replaced Allen and young Corey Webster, a
second-round pick in 2005, is the new Peterson. Others signed with experience include
McQuarters, Harris and Bell. Peprah was a draft pick (fifth round). McPhearson was
the seventh-round selection. The rest are not considered likely roster members.
SPECIAL TEAMS: P Jeff Feagles, K Jay Feely, LS Ryan Kuehl, KR/PR Chad
Morton, P/K Travis Dorsch, LS Rich Seubert, KR Santonio Moss, PR Willie Ponder.
Feagles, starting his 19th season, was talked out of retirement for one more
year. He is among the best in the NFL for positional punting and the league's
all-time leader in punts and punt yardage. Feely had a superb season except for
three consecutive missed field goals in Seattle, which turned into a 24-21
overtime loss to the Seahawks. Even with that, he made 35 of 42 field goals and
established a team record with 148 total points. Kuehl is a reliable long snapper
in his 10th season. Morton did both kickoff and punt duties but will be pressed
by the rookie Moss (second round), whose blazing speed and sure hands have made
him an attractive return man as well as a receiver.
Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes & Unit Analysis
The Giants Beat Top Stories
Behind Enemy Lines: Giants at VikingsThe Giants Beat Scott Thompson went behind enemy lines to ask Vikings Update's Tim Yotter seven burning questions about the Vikings ahead of their matchup with the Giants.
The Giants Beat9:14 AM
Giants Inside Scoop: Week 3 EditionGet the inside scoop for The Giants Beat's experts about what to keep an eye on when the Giants take on the Minnesota VIkings on Monday night football.
The Giants Beat6:53 AM
McAdoo: Beckham needs to control his emotionsNew York's head coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged on a conference call that his star player was out of control for his tantrum on the sidelines.
The Giants BeatTuesday at 7:33 AM
Scouting the Enemy: Josh NormanThe Giants Beat scouts Washington's top cornerback and how Big Blue can attack the pro bowler.
The Giants BeatMonday at 8:59 AM