Feud Fuels Giants' Linebacker Talk

Tom Coughlin can claim he softened his approach to players, but at least one player isn't happy with his coaching style. That feud could affect how the linebackers are used Sunday against the Vikings. And former Viking Fred Robbins is preparing to sack Daunte Culpepper.

The feud between Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and starting weak-side linebacker Barrett Green appears to be over, at least in Coughlin's mind.

After benching the unrestricted free agent via Detroit from the game last Sunday — coincidentally, against Detroit — he announced that Green and backup Nick Greisen will "share" the position.

"Green will start in the base defense this Sunday (at Minnesota)," Coughlin announced, "and Nick will start in the nickel package."

Is this a demotion for Green? Coughlin denied that. Well, then, is it a promotion for Greisen? He wouldn't comment on that, either.

"Greisen played very well last week," he said. "He has a good grasp of our offense and good savvy in the nickel situations. He's always around the ball. He had a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, he had a sack that was negated by a penalty (for defensive holding on SLB Carlos Emmons) and he had seven tackles."

So why Green at all, coach?

"Barrett did very well on special teams," he said, "and he was strong in recognizing the circumstances he was in. He contributed to the team with his play on specials."

The cause for the mini-tempest appeared to be Green's tardiness for a bye-week meeting. "You'll have to ask the coach," Green said by way of explaining the situation. When told that the coach said to ask him, he shrugged: "I'm here to play football and whatever job description I'm given, I'll do my best and give my best effort. My job is to play football."

Does he feel the "situation" is over? "No, I really don't," he said. "I mean, I would definitely say that the situation is not all gone. We'll see what my responsibilities are and how my assignments go during the game. But if Coach says the situation is over, then I guess it's over."

Green added that he hadn't played special teams since his rookie year and that he was never "in trouble with a coach before this."


NOTES

  • DE Michael Strahan, who is somewhat distracted because his wife, Jean, is overdue with the scheduled birth of twin daughters, on the team's mentality after losing to Detroit and seeing the four-game winning streak go up in smoke: "Our attitude now has to be ‘refuse to lose,' " he said. "As for Jean and the babies, nobody is in any trouble, but they are probably going to induce labor or do a C-section soon."

  • RB Tiki Barber is on schedule for a season rushing total of 1,725 yards, which would vault him well over his previous career high. He has had plus-100-yard games four times in the six games played. He has also scored five TDs (four rushing, one receiving), and all of last season he had three. Barber and WR Amani Toomer are tied for the team lead with 26 receptions although Toomer has slightly more yardage (371 to 342).

  • The Giants are second in the NFC (and tied for second in the NFL) with a plus-9 turnover differential while the Vikings are plus-2. But the Vikings, on the strength of the spectacular season being enjoyed so far by QB Daunte Culpepper, are ranked first in the NFL in total offense and passing offense — and 28th in overall defense. By comparison, the Giants are ninth in total offense and 14th in total defense.

  • RB Tiki Barber is well out in front in the NFL for most yards from scrimmage with 989 (based on 647 rushing and 342 receiving). Second in the NFL is RB Priest Holmes of Kansas City (792), and second in the NFC is Ahman Green of Green Bay (747). The Giants have converted only 30.3 percent of their third-down opportunities (23 of 76), and the Vikings have turned exactly half their 70 attempts into first downs. Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper is on track for an unthinkable 50 TD passes (he has 19 already in just six games), making the four thrown by the Giants' Kurt Warner appear paltry.

  • DT Fred Robbins started for the Vikings last season, when their season-opening unbeaten streak ended against the Giants, and acknowledged that team owner Red McCombs stormed into the locker room after the game and said: "You guys humiliated yourselves out there today."

    BY THE NUMBERS: 116 — The difference between the passing yards the Giants have allowed per game this season (205) and the passing yards the Daunte Culpepper-led Vikings have gained per game (321).

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I guess I'd lean over and say, ‘It's a long time coming, you know?' or maybe I'd say ‘Hey, Daunte, I'll be back.' " — Giants DT Fred Robbins, explaining how he'd greet his old buddy, Daunte Culpepper, the first time he sacks him Sunday; Robbins spent four seasons with the Vikings before signing with the Giants as an unrestricted free agent this past spring.


    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
    Coughlin is high on rookie WR Jamaar Taylor as the new third wideout, replacing the injured (fractured hip socket) Tim Carter, who is lost for the remainder of the season. "He has speed and good hands and shows that he learns quickly and well," he said. "I think Kurt (QB Warner) is getting more comfortable with him."

  • CB Frank Walker (sprained ankle) practiced and will be available for the game Sunday.

  • RB Ron Dayne, despite repeated failures, will remain the Giants' short-yardage back, but RB Mike Cloud, who seems to have taken over the KO return duties from Willie Ponder, appears to be poised to take that job, too, if Dayne persists in failing to garner the first down or the touchdown.

  • TE Jeremy Shockey, whose streak of five receptions in each of three consecutive games was stopped vs. Detroit when he had only two catches, seems to be on line for more attention this week from QB Kurt Warner. The Vikings have allowed 265 yards per game through the air, and the 6-5, 260-pound Shockey has had success in recent years vs. Vikings SS Corey Chavous (6-0, 190).



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