The two starters are the unpredictable Plaxico Burress, who might go into a mood swing at any moment, and the veteran Amani Toomer, who is the picture of stable and grounded and who seems to reinvent himself every summer. He is heading into his 10th season and at times not only looks more disciplined but even faster.
But that's just the tip of this fleet-footed collection. Tim Carter, who has
blinding speed and good size (6-0, 190), has not been able to
put a full
season together because of various injuries. When he is right, he is a
field-stretcher and a game-breaker. It's just that he is not "right" for a full season.
There is David Tyree, who earned a Pro Bowl accolade for his special teams
coverage work. He is also an accomplished if infrequently used wide receiver and
he, too, has the size (6-0, 210) and speed to make a difference.
Willie Ponder has had a rebirth of sorts. Two seasons ago he led the NFL in
kickoff return average, then fell into head coach Tom Coughlin's doghouse and
hardly played last season, losing the return work to Chad Morton.
There are others, such as Michael Jennings, an undrafted rookie named
Anthony Mix (6-4, 235); a few other undrafted rookies such as Triandos Luke and Harry Williams; and the prize of the new harvest, second round draft pick Sinorice Moss.
He has the speed (4.37) to disrupt a defense. His size is a compact 5-8 and
185. He has shown moves that can corkscrew defenders into the ground. He runs
over the middle, which leads to that magnet syndrome of luring defenders with
him to clear out the middle range middle for the Pro Bowl tight end, Jeremy Shockey.
It has been a long time since the Giants' wide receivers have been this
potent, and it is not worth forgetting that running back Tiki Barber, in his
headlong dash to the Pro Bowl, was the team's fourth leading receiver with 54 catches
for 530 yards,
"Great quarterbacks can't do it alone," said quarterbacks coach Kevin
Gilbride when camp opened (a specific coaches-available day, of which there are two
or three a year under Coughlin). "They need the tools. They need an offensive
line that plays together and plays well. They need receivers who can get open and
they need a running game to take the pressure off the passing game. We have
tried to get that for Eli [Manning] and the offense is looking very hopeful."
Hopeful is a conservative choice of words. Dynamic or electric might have
been better choices, and mostly because of the sudden wealth of wide receivers.
CAMP CALENDAR: Giants' training camp at the University at Albany, N.Y., will
close down Aug. 24. There were no in-camp events such as intra-squad or
inter-squad scrimmages scheduled this year.
--ORT Kareem McKenzie was seen limping with a small bandage on his big toe.
When it was jokingly suggested that he was creating an injury to get out of the
two-a-day practice sessions in the extreme heat of camp, he looked directly at
the questioner and said: "No, this is the result of a sincere desire not to
--CB R.W. McQuarters, the veteran signed during the UFA period, has shown
enough to be considered the nickel back. He is not going to start at corner
unless something happens to the first two, Corey Webster and UFA signee Sam Madison.
--Several former Giants made the trip to Canton, Ohio, to witness the long
overdue induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame of MLB Harry Carson, the
first inside linebacker from a 3-4 defense to earn the berth. Among them were LB
Lawrence Taylor, RB Joe Morris, RB Ottis Anderson, CB Everson Walls (who was
there for another former teammate, Dallas QB Troy Aikman), DE George Martin and
LB Brian Kelley.
--SLB LaVar Arrington accepted the number 55, rather than attempt to get his
old number in Washington, 56, which has been retired after LT's retirement. "I
never wanted LT's number," he said, "not with the Giants. I got it when I came
to the Redskins to honor him." SO now he is being called "nickels" by his
teammates (the two fives, of course) and one day last week his wife, Tricia, showed
up at camp wearing a T-shirt that read: "Mrs. Nickels."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "At first I was a little annoyed that they drafted another
defensive end, but now I'm good with it. Mathias [Kiwanuka] and me will probably
compete for Michael Strahan's job when he retires. Like the coaches said, you
can't have enough good pass rushers." -- Giants' second-year backup DE Justin Tuck.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--No competition on the roster is more undecided then the identities of the
two starting defensive tackles. At the moment that pair is William Joseph and
Fred Robbins, but Jonas Seawright is regaining the head of steam that put him in
one of the two starting spots before camp opened. Rookie Barry Cofield (6-4,
305) has impressed the coaches as well, while Damane Duckett and a few undrafted
rookie free agents appear to be losing their battle to stay in the race.
--The newly assembled secondary, in which only SS Gibril Wilson remains as a
starter, is taking longer to jell than was expected. CB Sam Madison (UFA,
Miami) has had apparent difficulty with the new playbook, and FS Will Demps missed
some time with injury.
--RB Brandon Jacobs, the 6-4, 265-pound second-year backfield bully, is
starting to "get it," according to another player. "He's running with his pads
lower and he is picking up the blitzers better," he said.
--One of those annual players who is good enough to stick -- but won't
--appears to be P-PK Travis Dorsch, 6-6 and 225 from Purdue. He punts high and far,
his FG attempts are generally on target and yet he is competing with a pair of
veterans -- P Jeff Feagles and PK Jay Feely. This is almost certainly Feagles'
final season (he'll be a 19-year veteran) and it is possible the Giants will
keep Dorsch on their practice squad.
--SLB LaVar Arrington and MLB Antonio Pierce both played for the Redskins,
and both were given "linebacker history lessons" from former Giant MLB and Pro
Football Hall of Fame member San Huff. "He told us how big a deal linebackers
were to the Giants," said Arrington. "There's a lot of history here."
--Veteran WLB Brandon Short, re-signed by the Giants (who drafted him) after
a two-year hiatus in Carolina, might be moving up on veteran Carlos Emmons and
it would not be entirely surprising if he wins the job by opening day.
BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Jared Lorenzen vs. Tim Hasselbeck and Rob Johnson for
the backup QB spot behind Eli Manning. Lorenzen, 6-4 and 289, was the long hot
and so far seems to be running a strong race. He has been the most consistent of
the three in terms of accuracy and observers are convinced he has thrown the
"tightest spiral" of the competing threesome. Since the Giants plan to keep only
three, the competition is going to end with a release.
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: RB Brandon Jacobs appears to have beaten out Derrick Ward for the second spot behind Tiki Barber, and with his immense size (6-4, 265)
and strength, he provides a perfect change of pace with the 5-10, 190-pound
--Boo Williams seems to be in control of one of the three TE positions. The
veteran via the Saints, who didn't play last year, says that his former team
"did me wrong" and kept him out all season when he insists he could have played
in two-three weeks (knee) following his injury.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: QB Jared Lorenzen, who continued his assault on the
backup job and, while the coaches won't say he has pulled ahead of his competition
(Tim Hasselbeck, Rob Johnson) that appears to be inevitable.
ROOKIE REPORT: No. 1 pick DE Mathias Kiwanuka has continued to experience
difficulty with the pro game, but shows all the natural abilities the team saw
when drafting him.
--He'll need to bulk up and play lower.
--No. 2 pick WR Sinorice Moss has missed some practice with a strained quad,
but he is still the lightning rod for offensive expectations and has shown
enough to prove he will get there soon.
--No. 3 SLB Gerris Wilkinson has the size, speed and ability to make an
impact, but probably not this year.
No. 4a DT Barry Cofield is attracting attention and might earn a spot as a
back (more accurately, as the fourth DT).
--No. 4b OT Guy Whimper has been taking turns on a regular rotation and
while he has much to learn, shows power at the snap and a competitive instinct.
--No. 5 SS Charles Peprah and No. 7 CB Gerrick McPhearson have struggled and
are in an area where there seems to be more competition than they can combat.
INJURY REPORT: TE Jeremy Shockey (concussion) has come back to practice and
will be expected to go full speed this week.
--Rookie WR Sinorice Moss (quad) is improving.
--S James Butler (kidney condition) has been given permission from the
doctors to practice.
--FS Will Demps (knee) and WLB Brandon Short (knee) are limited to one
practice a day while recuperating from off-season surgeries.
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