Carter X-factor in Giants Explosive Offense

Time and again this summer, there'd be a great diving or leaping catch by number 84, yet the only focus would be on how quickly, if at all, Tim Carter would get to his feet and return to the huddle. Only partly in jest did onlookers wonder exactly how long Carter could keep this up.

Well, after more than a month and with the season upon us, it's obvious this is Carter's time to shine. He finished off a superb camp head and shoulders above all his mates during the club's month up in Albany. If there were a camp MVP awarded, Carter would have clinched it after only a week or so.

"He had a great camp," Plaxico Burress said. "He's improved a lot. He's catching the ball consistently and playing with a lot of confidence. He's gaining more and more confidence all the time."

And that all came after Carter was supposed to miss the start of camp due to yet another injury.

"We didn't know how it was going to be at the beginning of camp and how it was going to react to camp," Carter said of his previously ailing knee. "It was tough at times but I was determined to push through it but at the same time be smart about it."

He sure caught the eye of coach Tom Coughlin, never one to appreciate injured players.

"I've been very impressed," Coughlin said. "He started off camp with some tendonitis. He did not give into that. He stayed out there. So, by the very presence of Tim in practice every day, it's given him a chance to have some consistency and some continuity. He's had some plays that haven't been so good, there's no doubt about that, but he's also come right back and had good plays."

Carter made more plays than anyone up in Albany and is understandably brimming with confidence. He was clearly the early underdog in the supposed battle with rookie Sinorice Moss, who missed almost all of camp with an injury, for the third receiver post. Now there's no question at all who will be number three.

"I'm going to make this offense a lot better, as far as big plays and adding another weapon to this team," he said. "I think I'm going to contribute in a big way this year. I'm going to have more opportunities to help this team win."

After all, his addition to this already-potent offense could put Big Blue over the top. Amani Toomer, New York's other starting receiver, has certainly noticed.

"He can bring a lot," Toomer said. "He has a dimension that not a lot of people have with his speed and he's a tough guy. I think he can help everybody out. It's great to see how well he's doing. He's a hard-working guy that's had some bad breaks. I think he can really do it."

"We have another year together as an offense, so that's huge," Carter added. "We're getting more comfortable with the offense and each other. We're definitely shooting to be a dominant offense this year. We're all excited about it."

It was hard for Carter or the Giants to be too excited when he was only able to play in 37 games and make 50 catches during his first four years with the club, when various injuries derailed him in a big way. Yet, both parties had the foresight to realize this day would come – and now it's paying off for both big-time.

"We started talking during the season," stated Carter, a free agent after last season. "They brought it up, they showed their desire for me to come back. I didn't have to come back and they didn't have to bring me back. But that wasn't the case. They felt like they needed me back and I wanted to come back."

And not just to prove the naysayers wrong, although Carter does admit his strong summer tastes even sweeter as a result.

"It does make me feel real good," Carter said of dismissing his critics. "There are always going to be people out there that doubt what you're able to do, but unfortunately they can't hold you back. There's nothing they can do about the success you do have. I feel real good about this year."

The 6-0, 200-pound Carter has his sights set on a much higher prize, and doesn't want to waste his time or energy on outsiders.

"That type of stuff never really motivated me, for some people they feed off that type of stuff, it makes them do their thing," Carter explained. "I have other things that really motivate me. My own desire to be better is what makes me go, my own competitiveness. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform.

"If I have to depend on someone to say something negative to me, then when I'm on top what am I going to do?"

At any point during the past couple seasons, a reference to Carter being on top would have drawn snickers. Now, however, all can see that the former second-round pick out of Auburn looks to be every bit as sweet as candy.

"Teams are definitely going to have to take a look at him," Burress said. "He's one of the fastest guys in the NFL. We're going to try to get him the football so he can make plays. Once he can go out there and be that X-factor for us we can pretty much spread it around like we want to."

The confident Carter doesn't believe there's any special reason for his run of success; he just thinks it's his time.

"I feel really good," he said. "I feel like it's all coming together for me, physically and mentally, and it's showing out there on the field. I feel athletically as good as I did when I first came here. Also being in the system another year and having another year with Eli (Manning). It's a combination of a lot of things coming together. I'm excited about the start of the season."

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