Jul 312007
 

Osi Umenyiora Doesn’t Believe Simeon Rice Would Be a Good Fit for the Giants: DE Osi Umenyiora told the press yesterday that he does not believe DE Simeon Rice would be a good fit for the Giants. Rice is schedule to visit the Giants today and take a physical for them tomorrow in Manhattan.

“What position is (Rice) going to play over here? Left defensive end? He’s not a run player,” said Umenyiora. “Everybody knows he’s not a run defensive player and that’s where they run the football at. The only other option would be to move me over there and I’m not moving over there. There’s nowhere for him to play unless he’s going to be a linebacker or something. So we have a little bit of a situation here if they decide to bring him in.”

“I’m not going to move to left defensive end because Simeon Rice is coming in,” said Umenyiora. “I won’t do it.”

Umenyiora would prefer the Giants give a shot at left defensive end to Justin Tuck or William Joseph. He also said he would not mind seeing Mathias Kiwanuka moved back from linebacker to defensive end.

When General Manager Jerry Reese was asked what the team’s plans were for Rice and Umenyiora, he responded, “I’m not participating in any soap opera talk today.”

Interestingly, Umenyiora says he has spoken to DE Michael Strahan every day since the All-Pro defensive end has been holding out. However, the Giants have not been able to reach Strahan. Umenyiora and Strahan also share the same agent. And Strahan and Rice have publicly feuded in the past over who is the best defensive end in the game, with Strahan contending that Rice is a poor run defender. Hmmm… “Obviously Jerry is not blinking, and from talking to Michael, he’s not blinking, either,” Umenyiora said.

One thing is clear: it didn’t take long for one of the Giants’ cornerstone players to ignore the head coach’s demand that the players stop creating more distractions with the media. And so much for the team’s new t-shirts imprinted with the words “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”

Memo to Osi – Shut the f*ck up! You and Strahan are not more important than the team.

New York Giants Begin Fining DE Michael Strahan: The Giants have begun fining DE Michael Strahan $14,288 per day, retroactive to Friday, for being absent from Giants’ training camp without approval.

Strahan’s agent insists that his client is not holding out for more money. “I’ve never asked (the Giants) for money,” said the agent. “We haven’t talked money since March, when we discussed extending Michael’s contract. That has not been the issue here in this situation.”

“The fines are all part of the business,” said the agent. “We understand that part of it, but that’s not going to make him decide any quicker. He’s going to take his time to try to figure this out.”

Jul 302007
 
July 29, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor iMatt

The linebackers started with a strip and recover drill. This was when I first noticed that everything that Antonio Pierce does, he does at game-speed. They also did some drills to work on coverage dexterity and a drill to contain a cutback runner. Kawika Mitchell has pretty good closing speed and was quick to wrap up.

The cornerbacks worked with the wide receivers a bit on a drill where the cornerbacks engage and jam the wide receivers at the line. Defensive Backs Peter Giunta (I presume) pulled Corey Webster aside and told him to be more physical with his man (Plaxico Burress) and not afraid to give him a good shove toward the sidelines if he breaks outside. It was nice to hear those words said out loud.

The running backs and second- and third-team linebackers worked on a drill with the running backs catching a pass in the flat or short 5-yard pattern while the linebackers covered. I thought Zak DeOssie moved fairly well in coverage on the drill, but Brandon Jacobs made him look like a traffic cone.

The kickers worked on field goals in the middle of the field moving five yards back per try. Lawrence Tynes’ were prettier, but he was also first to miss.

7-on-7/11-on-11 Drills:

  • S Will Demps is working almost exclusively on the second team, but he did do a good job breaking up a deep pass at one point.
  • QB Jared Lorenzen is working with the second team and looks really sharp. He hit a couple of guys (one being TE Darcy Johnson) right in stride and in traffic.
  • The defensive ends on first team were Adrian Awasom and William Joseph for the most part. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck dressed and warmed up, but I don’t recall seeing either active. Mathhias Kiwanuka put his hand down on the left side of the line on two plays. I believe they were both third-down situations.
  • WR Anthony Mix beat his man (CB E.J. Underwood?) deep and caught a great touchdown pass from QB Anthony Wright.
  • The cornerbacks are lining up tight to the line on 3rd down – well, at least today they were.
  • QB Eli Manning hit WR Amani Toomer perfectly on a text-book 10-yard hitch. The timing between these two looks to have held up. He also looked pretty good with Plaxico Burress, the occasional miss or drop notwithstanding.
  • WR Steve Smith did a great job of adjusting in the air to come down with a high pass to the sidelines.
  • The practice of the defense picking up every ball that touches the ground and returning it 5-10 yards is still in effect.
  • Brandon Jacobs caught a nice swing pass and tip-toed down the sideline for what probably would have been a good 10-15 yard-gain in a game. He was quick to remind the linebackers that they missed him.
  • CB Aaron Ross is taking snaps with both the first and second teams.
  • I couldn’t see if it was by design or not, but LG Rich Seubert got himself a touchdown in the corner of the end zone after an aborted field goal attempt.

They finished the day with a punt return drill in which two gunners were sent after a lone returner. WR Kevin McMahan and HB Ahmad Bradshaw looked pretty shifty. Underwood was given a shot, but I’d be surprised if that experiment is attempted too many times. His turn ended pretty quickly.

Jul 302007
 
July 29, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor mjvm52106

I stayed on Field 4 and as the squad broke up the defensive backs were the first to do their drills. The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that we have some speed in our younger guys. As you all know already, Will Demps is practicing with the second team as our starting safeties are James Butler at strong safety and Gibril Wilson at free safety. One thing to note here is that the defense is being pushed very hard to communicate better on the field. Based on the opponent’s offensive formation, Gibril Wilson moves around the back half of the defense, calling out things like Bob Bob or Louie Louie. Gibril Wilson will also clap his hands twice and when he does that, he expects the corners to clap in response which shows the have the change or the call. I believe Wilson will have a big year and I think Defensive Coordinator Steve Spanuolo’s defense is exactly what he needed to regain the form of his rookie season.

Travonti Johnson, a 6-2, 190lbs corner from Central Florida, showed a nice burst to the ball on individual drills but was manhandled by Anthony Mix and Sinorice Moss when the wide receivers were brought over for 1-on-1 drills. CB Aaron Ross was very physical with the jam at the line of scrimmage but sometimes too aggressive as he would punch the shoulder pads of the wide receiver too high and allowed the wide receiver to escape to the outside too easily. He was told that on two different occasions. But, he did look good overall and I would say should make a fine cornerback for years to come.

CB Kevin Dockery was there for a little while but the issue with his head (which he banged yesterday) was still bothering him and he was shut down fairly early.

The next group to join the defensive backs were the linebackers and I was psyched to watch the groups work together. The starting LB’s are Mathias Kiwanuka at strongside linebacker, Antonio Pierce at middle linebacker, and Kawika Mitchell at weakside linebacker. The coaches spent a lot of time watching Kiwanuka and providing coaching after each play. He made some mistakes though as I heard Spags tell him that is not going to get it done, after a play where one LB passes off the back out of the backfield to Kiwi. Kiwi got caught up in the traffic and actually would have picked one of our own cover LB’s and thus creating a big play opportunity for the opposition. Overall though, you can see why the coaches like his ability to make the transition to linebacker.

The second team linebackers consisted of Gerris Wilkinson at weakside linebacker, Chase Blackburn at middle linebacker, and Reggie Torbor at strongside linebacker. Torbor was invisible much of the drills and during full-team workouts. This group played pretty well together (minus anything of note from Torbor) but at the same time they weren’t playing against a real offense at the time. Zak DeOssie also looked good and he has excellent size and skills to work with.

The defensive line then joined in on Field A and the starting unit was Osi Umenyiora, Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, and William Joseph. I actually think that Joseph is a better DE than DT and could play that position full-time if Strahan doesn’t come in to camp. A couple of observations about other players… Jonas Seawright has slimmed down and I mean way down. Seawright looks like a Keith Hamilton-type now, that is, a little taller DT with a slimmed down look. Now, can production match his physical form?

Now on that same note but for a whole different reason, Osi looks quite slim too, way too slim. Osi is listed at 261lbs, but he is way lighter than that. I know muscle weighs more than fat but my eyes don’t lie to me and seeing him next to Jacobs, Zak DeOssie, and even Reggie Torbor, I can tell you he was quite small. This has to be somewhat concerning that as camp moves along he will lose more weight and come this season we could be looking at a 249lb defensive end. Osi needs to bulk up this off-season unless this is his way of getting moved to linebacker like Kiwi. I am VERY concerned about Osi’s ability to handle the point-of-attack against the run and I will even speculate that the interest in Rice has more to do with having another rush defensive end at right end than it does about Strahan.

Fred Robbins looks to be in great shape (for him) and he made a couple of nice plays during the 11-on-11’s and 7-on-7’s.

Here is more of a quick list approach to how certain defensive players did in the morning practice.

  • DE William Joseph played pretty well at the point-of-attack and beat RT Kareem McKenzie on an outside rush once.
  • DE Osi Umenyiora scares me at how small he is. While certain beat writers want to start people running and screaming for the Giants front office to do something about the left tackle position with David Diehl at left tackle and how Osi blew past him, please take note that a 250ish (as of now) DE has a huge speed advantage against a big offensive lineman, especially during the first couple of days as the players continue to get used to the two-a-days.
  • LB Mathias Kiwanuka looks like he can play the part but the mental aspect and natural feel are still to come. I do think he can play the position but time will tell if he can do it well enough to be the starting strongside linebacker.
  • FS Gibril Wilson looks great, moves well, and really seems to enjoy the new free safety position he is playing. I think this will be his breakout year.
  • CB Sam Madison looks like he can go another year. He makes great contact at the snap, moves with his receiver well, and gets himself in a position to be right with his man, without having to be in an all out sprint. Technique is the name of his game and one reason why he will have a pretty decent season this year!
  • SLB Reggie Torbor looks lost at strongside linebacker and I believe he will have a tough time making the team if Tyson Smith, James Davis, and Zak DeOssie show they can play now. He just doesn’t make plays and seems lost in coverage. Of course it was just one practice but we shall see.
  • CB R.W. McQuarters: I didn’t mention him earlier and that is my bad. He looks aggressive in this scheme, able to run with the WR’s, and just seems happy with the new scheme. I like him a lot as far as our 2007 defensive backs go.
  • S Craig Dahl showed some toughness and ability to read the play and his all out hustle is something to keep an eye on.
  • S Michael Johnson made a lot of mistakes and was being coached up a lot!

Now the offense joins the party on Field 4 for some simulated game situations, with 7-on-7’s and 11-on-11’s.

  • The first thing I want to note here is that Eli was on fire and hit everyone of his receivers in stride and where only they could catch the ball. Eli even tucked one in and took off running on one play to a throng of mock cheers about being a speed demon and how fast his burst was. It was a pretty funny moment. He and Shockey hooked up on one long deep seam pass that was just a beauty and then a couple of more times underneath. Shockey looks to be in great shape and he and Eli seem to be on the same page!
  • QB Jared Lorenzen looks good throwing the ball (not so great when you are talking about his weight) and, as far as I am concerned, has solidified the #2 quarterback spot, at least right now. He has a good arm and looks very smooth while throwing the deep ball.
  • I didn’t see a ton from QB Anthony Wright but overall he is a capable #3.
  • QB Tim Hasselbeck is done! He has a weak arm, looks indecisive from time to time, and just seems like the guy on the outside looking in. I suspect he will go at the final cut down. The Giants will keep him around until they are sure all quarterbacks are healthy for the start of the season.
  • HB Brandon Jacobs will have a huge year. He is fast, smooth, and (not related to performance) is one of the nicest guys you will EVER meet.
  • The acquisition of HB Reuben Droughns should not be understated. He will be a great change-of-pace, substitute back for Jacobs. He was asked what he thought about possibly being part of a two-headed backfield with both guys rushing for 1,000 and his response was, “What about two guys rushing for 1500 each?” I like his attitude and he is thrilled not to be in Cleveland anymore.
  • HB Derrick Ward just doesn’t impress me and I believe he will be gone.
  • HB Ahmad Bradshaw looked very quick and from a body type, reminds me of a young Emmitt Smith. He will contribute this year and contribute a lot!
  • WR Marco Thomas looks very fast and reminds me of Jamaar Taylor. He completely beat his man (I believe it was CB E.J. Underwood) on a deep pass that was perfectly thrown by the hefty lefty (Lorenzen)! He later had another chance at a catch as he blew past CB Travonti Johnson but the ball (Hasselbeck) never made it to him.
  • WR Anthony Mix was active, making Will Demps whiff big time on one play and looks to be lighter than last year!
  • WR Brandon London did nothing!!!!
  • WR Siniorice Moss played well but did drop a come backer that he should have had.
  • WR Steve Smith has a great attitude, excellent hands, and will be a major member of the offense from Week 8 on. He is still learning everything right now.
  • TE Jerey Shockey – as mentioned above is in great shape and caught everything thrown his way. He burned Kiwi downfield once on Eli’s perfectly thrown pass. That was an impressive play.
  • TE Darcy Johnson will make this team. He had a great workout and caught a really nice deep pass and almost came up with a second one.
  • TE Kevin Boss looks the part but it will take some time.

I would grade the offensive line but it is hard to tell how well they did when they aren’t being very physical and aren’t rotating in as much as the defensive line was able to do.

LB Rich Seubert’s leg scar is probably one of the scariest looking scars I have ever seen. When you are up close to him and see the huge gouge down the side of his lower left leg and see how the muscle there is split around that scar and how there is a football-shaped oval around the scar that shows just how “open” his leg was during the operation.

Right now the biggest concern the G-Men have is Michael Strahan. Is he coming in, when will he be in and if not, who will take his place? I believe Justin Tuck will be that guy but I want to see him walk around with a slight hitch in his go.

Whether or not Kiwi stays at linebacker depends on two things: (1) the needs of the defensive line, and (2) whether or not he is developing faster than Gerris Wilkinson, who would be the next logical choice to start.

Jul 302007
 
July 29, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

This morning was a perfect day to watch football practice Ð mild, sunny, and breezy. The Giants were in shorts and shells. For the second day in a row, P Jeff Feagles was absent from the morning session, however there was no punting. Instead, there were plenty of kickoffs. Most of them by Lawrence Tynes and none of them crossed the goal line. Many were around the ten yard line. They were not line drives, but they did not have a lot of hang time either.

Josh Huston did better and got many of his kicks past the goal line. Nobody returned more kicks than RB Reuben Droughns. Reuben made a nice cut-back on a handoff during the 11-on-11s, but you have to wonder if this 8-year veteran RB has enough speed, moves, etc., to run back kicks. Time will tell.

WR Sinorice Moss and CBs Aaron Ross and Gerrick McPhearson also returned the kicks. McPhearson, who was playing with the second team CBs today, is easily the fastest of the group. Derrick Ward also returned a kick, but I think the Giants already know what he can do.

WRs Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress were not dressed, nor was CB Corey Webster. Most likely they will play this afternoon. With Webster out, CBs R.W. McQuarters and Sam Madison were the starting cornerbacks. CB Kevin Dockery was back and seems okay after hitting his head yesterday. Mathias Kiwanuka and William Joseph continue to play first string Sam LB and LDE respectively and safeties James Butler and Gibril Wilson are the starters.

Kiwanuka was victimized on a few long passes this morning. The first was an Eli Manning pass to TE Jeremy Shockey that went right over Kiwi’s head about 25 yards down field. Had he raised his arms, he could have knocked it away. Hopefully, he will learn when to turn to look for the ball. The second was a deep pass from QB Jared Lorenzen to TE Darcy Johnson. It was a good catch. Johnson and Kiwi were 40 yards down field with no DB help for Kiwi. Nevertheless, I have not noticed any coaches re-positioning Kiwi or tell him what he has been doing wrong, so I guess this is just part of the learning process.

There was a flock of Canadian geese on the rolling field adjacent to the practice field. They calmly sat and pecked at the grass as the Giants practiced just over the fence. Perhaps they were wondering if Coach Coughlin will get all of his ducks in a row. A good sign of that was the significant improvement of today’s quarterbacking. Eli Manning was much sharper today than yesterday, although on one play in the 11-on-11s he could not find a receiver so he actually ran down the field with the ball, to the derisive shouts of the defensive team. The other quarterbacks including Tim Hasselbeck were also sharper. By that, I mean more consistent and accurate. Hasselbeck is still far behind the others, but he was not horrible like yesterday.

There were some interesting drills this morning. Many of the footballs had their ends painted white and they were used for various drills. I don’t really know why. The OL practiced a long distance away using what look like medicine balls about the size of beach balls. A player would stand 4 or 5 feet from another and they would sort of bat the ball back and forth to each other volleyball fashion, but at chest height. It looked like a useful drill for strength and coordination. The OL also practiced pulling. It was interesting to watch a center snap the ball and then pull.

A new wrinkle is “target football” for the quarterbacks. There are stationary targets Ð nets that have pouches in them. The pouches are about 30 inches square. The QBs roll out and try to get the ball in the pouches from about 20 yards away. All of the QBs were able to get a few passes into the pockets to the oohs and aahs of the fans. I don’t know how useful this drill is, but it is far and away the most entertaining drill that I have seen and I’m sure it will continue to be a crowd-pleaser.

Guy Wimper is the second-team left tackle and Justin Jones and Ryan Keenan are the third-team right tackle and right guard, respectively.

WR Marco Thomas made a spectacular diving catch of a Lorenzen throw. It was a really deep pass and it did not look like Thomas would be able to run under it. A short time later Thomas made a second good catch. The coaches hooted and congratulated him warmly on the sideline. Another player who got congratulated was CB E.J. Underwood on an excellent pass defense in the 11-on-11s.

Rookie TE Kevin Boss continues to make tough catches in traffic and shows a great deal of athleticism and leaping ability. Rookie 7th round pick RB Ahmad Bradshaw continues to run well and catch well.

The competition between RBs Derrick Ward and Ryan Grant continues. Both are about the same size, have about equal speed and equally good moves. They can both catch the ball too. All of the RBs caught passes out of the backfield today with no problems, including DeCori Birmingham. DeCori is not big or strong or fast or shifty, but he can catch the ball. He appears to be at the bottom of the RB depth chart and will only make the squad in the event of nuclear war.

FB Robert Douglas caught several passes. On one of those catches, in the 7-on-7 drill, LB Zak DeOssie was right there unloaded on him blasting him across the sideline. Steve seems to have a nose for the ball. Walking back to the huddle, Douglas gave Steve a look as if to say, “Save that for opening day.”

In the 11-on-11s, Eli Manning took a shotgun snap and handed off to RB Reuben Droughs in a draw play that was exceedingly ugly and will hopefully not be used again. Eli connected on a pass to WR Michael Jennings that was tipped into the air by Sam Madison and then caught by Jennings. It was a good catch and showed good concentration by Jennings. Another good catch was by rookie WR Steve Smith who caught a somewhat off-line, chest-high bullet from Eli Manning. It was a short pass, but Smith was impressive because he caught it with his hands and secured it.

Jul 302007
 

July 29, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Plaxico Burress (ankle), WR Amani Toomer (knee), DE Justin Tuck (foot), and CB Corey Webster (hip) did not practice in the morning, but practiced in the afternoon. DE Osi Umenyiora (hip) practiced in the morning, but not the afternoon. As expected, all five players have been limited to one practice per day.

CB Kevin Dockery (head) did not practice after being hurt in practice yesterday. “He came back today and tried to go but he had some trouble,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. “Right now, he is the only one that we did not know about and the only non-schedule guy that will probably miss a little time.”

DE Simeon Rice Visit Postponed Until Tuesday; Update on DE Michael Strahan Holdout: Following up on yesterday’s “News and Notes” story regarding DE Simeon Rice, the defensive end’s visit to the Giants has been postponed until Tuesday. He will also take a physical for the Giants in Manhattan on Wednesday. As previously reported, Rice is coming off of an injury to his left shoulder that caused him to miss half of the 2006 NFL season.

“We’re very serious (about moving on),” said General Manager Jerry Reese regarding the interest in Rice with respect to DE Michael Strahan’s holdout. “We can’t sit on our hands waiting to see if the guy is ready to return. Do we want (Strahan) here? Sure. But if he wants to retire, we’ll wish him the best. We can win without him.”

Meanwhile, the Giants have been unable to connect with Strahan – a move that obviously appears intentional on Strahan’s part. “Hopefully this phone tag stuff will stop and we can talk to him and see what he wants to do,” said Reese. “It’s strange that we can’t get in touch with him at all.”

“We knew Michael was going to retire at some point,” Reese said. “We drafted a couple of defensive ends the last couple of years with that in mind. So we’re not panicking by any means. We have players who want to be here, who want to play, who want to win a championship. We’re focused on that…We’re getting things lined up for all of our options, whether he comes back or not. We don’t have a timetable in our heads, but we could make up our mind tomorrow and say, ‘This is enough. We’re moving on.’ Who knows? Time is ticking.”

Article on New York Training Camp: Training-Camp Postcard: Giants by Don Banks of SportsIllustrated.com

Article on QB Eli Manning: All Eyes, and All Possibilities, Rest Squarely on Manning by John Branch of The New York Times

Jul 292007
 
July 28, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

The rain held off for the afternoon practice and it was less humid. This was a welcome relief. Another relief was the return of P Jeff Feagles who did most of the punting. He continues to punt with precision, both in length and direction. The word that I would use to describe him is “craftsman” – make that “master craftsman.” He was punting to WR Sinorice Moss, CB Aaron Ross, WR Michael Jennings (who may need this duty to make the squad), and CB R.W. McQuarters. He was making them run from the center of the field to catch the ball on the sidelines, just in bounds. He was very consistent and all the receivers did an excellent job of making this hard catch. There were no muffs.

CB Corey Webster returned to action as did DE Justin Tuck. DE Osi Umenyiora did not dress and Adrian Awasom, filled in for him at RDE. I only noticed DT Jay Alford when he jumped off sides on a hard count by QB Anthony Wright (I think). Alford heard about it later from the coach. Alford does not look small, but he looked fast when he got penetration on a pass play. Justin Tuck also looked good. He would have tackled Anthony Wright on one pass play but just stood there next to him. Given the extra time, Wright found WR Brandon London with a 15 yarder. However, London took a shot which leveled him. It could be heard all over the field. Nevertheless he hung onto the ball.

In an endzone drill, Eli threw very hard to TE Jeremy Shockey. It bounced off his chest and into the air. Shockey fought off some DBs and caught the ball again. He pivoted and ran into the endzone. Great catch by Shockey; so-so throw by Eli. Shockey’s blond hair is now almost shoulder length. He looks like Prince Valiant in the comics. The Giants seem loaded with TEs who can catch. Kevin Boss and Rodney Burgess are making catches that Visanthe Shiancoe can only dream about. Boss made an excellent catch in heavy traffic on a throw from Lorenzen and both made diving catches. These TEs get open. They dive for the ball. They don’t drop easy passes. It is too early to get excited, but they were impressive today. Big Michael Matthews a TE who is supposed to be a good blocker also demonstrated that he can catch this afternoon.

As for the wide receivers, Amani Toomer suited up for the afternoon practice even though he played this morning. I hope he is not overdoing it. Both Sinorice Moss and Steve Smith continue to impress with their good hands. Smith would have made a sparkling catch of a long pass down the middle, but he cut and juked one time too many and could not catch up to the ball. Moss continues to play like a veteran. On a deep sideline pass from Eli – that Burress and probably Toomer are tall enough to catch – Moss realized that Eli overthrew him so he tipped it away from the defender who was behind him and might have intercepted.

OT Luke Petigout may be gone, but his number 77 lives on with OT Justin Jones. Perhaps in Luke’s memory, Justin jumped offsides. It was the only offensive line infraction that I saw today.

I know that a lot of people have been impressed by CB E.J. Underwood. He made a fine play to break up a pass to Steve Smith in a one-on-one drill. (Smith made up for it with a leaping sideline grab of a Lorenzen pass that drew cheers from the fans). In my opinion, Underwood tends to yank on wide receivers jerseys. I don’t believe that is allowed even within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.

OG Zach Piller is robustly built and looks like a really tough guy. His full beard, not long, but full face, adds to the appearance of ferocity.

As a squad, the entire Giants team appears to be in excellent shape in that there are no players who are obviously out of condition or grossly overweight. Well do quarterbacks count? Jared Lorenzen is still way too heavy. If Jonas Seawright has the discipline to lose the weight… well it makes you wonder. I have not yet gotten a close look at DT Marcus Bell, but from a distance he looks quite big and has rather spindly legs for his size.

FB Robert Douglas got onto the field, caught a safety valve pass and showed decent speed running.

In the 11-on-11 drills, Eli Manning tried what looked like a short hard jump pass over the scrimmage line. It went directly into and out of the arms of LB Kawika Mitchell. Eli and Kawika were both upset about the outcome of that pass, especially Mitchell. Eli also threw some nice passes this afternoon, although I’ve concentrated on the negatives.

Jul 292007
 
July 28, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

The practice is scheduled to begin at 8:40 AM. From 8:10 to 8:30, it is pouring, but thank God, no lightning. At 8:45 Tom Coughlin comes out and looks at the field. He makes a face. There is only a slight drizzle now. At 9:00 there are hoots and cheers from autograph alley as the Giants head onto the field. They apparently warmed up indoors because they immediately broke into groups and started to practice without the usual stretching exercises. The rain had stopped and the field held up surprisingly well. There were no slips by players and no torn-up sod. As the players were in shells there was no real hitting either.

To nobody’s surprise, Michael Strahan was not on the field. What was a surprise was the absence of P Jeff Feagles. P Cory Ohnesorge handled all the punting. Although he did not kick any beauties, he didn’t kick any terrible ones either. The most that you can say about his kicks was that they were consistent. His kicks were straight, not directional, and had medium depth and hang-time.

CB Cory Webster and DE Justin Tuck did not dress, but were on the field. WR Amani Toomer played. He ran smoothly, cut, and caught several passes. His best one was against CB Sam Madison who was pushing and prodding him all the way. Another WR who looked good was Sinorice Moss who showed good hands catching some hard-thrown passes. He looks to be ahead of WR Steve Smith as would be expected. Smith did nothing exceptional, but he did take an end-around hand-off from QB Jared Lorenzen and showed some speed and some nifty moves on the wet grass. WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey look to be in mid-season form and both caught passes in patterns that I’m sure they’ve run many times before.

I hesitate to talk about quarterbacks until they have had several practices to settle down, but my first impression is that Jared Lorenzen had the most accurate and consistent arm this morning. Eli Manning continues to be inconsistent. He had some excellent completions, but botched a hand-off and on one throw missed Sinorice Moss by about 5 yards. He also made some poor decisions by throwing the ball to well-covered receivers. Pencil in Anthony Wright as the number 2 or number 3 QB. He has a decent arm and made some good throws. Tim Hasselbeck was just horrible. He was much worse than his poor showing on day one of practice last year. Tim was intercepted, could not find receivers to throw to, and in general looked bad.

All of the tight ends look like they can catch. Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope was throwing short passes to them as they ran past him. He intentionally made the balls difficult to catch, which most of them were. Even when they were dropped, the TEs did not look awkward. I got my first look at TE Kevin Boss. He does not have big arms, but I am happy to say that he has good sized legs. That is an encouraging sign so far as blocking ability goes. He caught a pass or two. On one, as he ran by, he pushed Steve Smith down. I’m sure he will hear about that. TE Rodney Burgess had several catches and appears to be a talented receiver. We will have to wait a while to find out which of the TEs can block.

With Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck out, William Joseph, not Adrian Awasom, started at left defensive end. Of course with Joseph, one day he starts and the next day he sits. Osi Umenyiora played right defensive end. The linebackers were Antonio Pierce, Kawika Mitchell, who looked reasonably speedy and agile, and Mathias Kiwanuka, who practiced and played exclusively with the linebacker group.

LB Zak DeOssie nearly had an interception, but could not hang on to it. Zak DeOssie is the newest member of the Giants’ All-Famous-Relatives squad. Let’s hope his talent more closely resembles that of Tiki Barber than Tim Hasselbeck. Zak’s father Steve, was a linebacker on Bill Parcells’ Giants team. The Giants got Steve DeOssie from the Cowboys in exchange for a 5th round draft choice and he was worth it. Steve didn’t have his son’s looks. Steve was rolly-polly and had a very fair complexion with pink cheeks. Because his face was round and somewhat blotchy, Parcells nicknamed him “Beach Ball.” Beach Ball!

Can you imagine Tom Coughlin calling a player “Beach Ball!” That would go over about as well as when Howard Cosell, on Monday Night Football, in a famously unsuccessful attempt to be cute, referred to WR Alvin Garrett as “that little monkey.” Those of us old enough to have seen Cosell, Dandy Don and The Giff do the MNF broadcasts well remember that episode. There were charges of racism against Cosell. I don’t think that he was a racist, especially considering his vocal support of Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, when Ali became a Muslim and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. I think the ABC Network fired Cosell after that season. Uh, where was I? Oh yes, training camp. Let me mention shoulder pads.

In the mornings the Giants generally wear “shells” which kinda look like shoulder pads, but aren’t. Shoulder pads give much more protection, but are much bulkier. In my opinion the difference is very significant when judging player performance. It is harder for a QB to throw a football and harder to catch a football with pads on. Receivers who catch with their body instead of their hands often have the ball bounce off their pads and be intercepted. Pads don’t allow LBs and DBs as much freedom to extend their arms to block a pass or to intercept. I’m also guessing that it is a bit harder for an RB to keep the ball secure when wearing pads. My conclusion is that if you make a good play wearing pads it counts more than a good play wearing shells. So in October when you see a long pass go off the fingertips of a receiver, you might say to yourself, “Man, if they were wearing shells and short pants, it would have been a completed pass for sure!”

As everyone expected, Dave Diehl, the veteran starter at left guard, is the new left tackle. How could he not be? He is a known quantity to the Giants. He is healthy, very coachable, has plenty of experience, healthy, knows the playbook, is dependable, consistent, and healthy. Barring injury in my opinion he should be a solid starter for the Giants.

Here are some player numbers:

OL Zach Piller: 63. OL Ryan Keenan is now W70. Not a good sign for Ryan.

OT Chris Patrick: 68

RB DeCori Birmingham: 30

RB Cedric Humes: Didn’t see him on the field (Editor’s Note: He’s been waived).

TE Charles Davis: 49

WR Kevin McMahan: 87

MLB Barry Robertson: 54

SS Richard Yancy: 36

Fullback Robert Douglas is a big and powerfully built player. I did not see him get on the field, but he is impressively built. Speaking of impressively built. DT Jonas Seawright looks considerably slimmed down with no gut hanging over his belt. S Will Demps also looks buff and ready to play. Speaking of looks, CB R.W. McQuarters now has a shaved head, but CB/S Michael Stone has stepped into the tonsorial breach with dread locks that come down three inches below his shoulders.

Of all the defensive backs, CB Travanti Johnson had the most impressive practice with two interceptions. CB Kevin Dockery had a nice break-up of a deep Lorenzen pass. S Gibril Wilson also had an interception.

R.W. McQuarters and wide receivers Michael Jennings (who caught a few nice passes, but also dropped one or two), Sinorice Moss, and Steve Smith were all taking turns returning punts. There were no FG kicks or kickoff returns. There is a new defensive back on the Giants named Richard Yancy. He wears number 36.

First of all, remember that we got RB Reuben Droughns straight up for Tim Carter so try to be moderate in your expectations. If ever there was a football equivalent of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” that trade is it. Reuben looked a lot better running the ball than Tim Carter did catching it. Reuben seems to have decent speed and is a little bit shifty. RB Brandon Jacobs looked a little slimmer and a little faster than last year. He looks like he can avoid hitting people if he wants to. RB Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball a lot. He looks like he has a nice cut-back move, but he does not have blazing speed. He is powerfully built and, I think, a bit bow-legged. We’ll have to wait to find out if he can catch. The same goes for Brandon Jacobs’ catching ability. Both RB Derrick Ward and RB Ryan Grant played and did a reasonably good job.

Jul 292007
 

DE Simeon Rice to Visit Giants on Monday: According to The Daily News and The NFL Network, DE Simeon Rice, who was recently waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will visit the Giants on Monday. Rice, who is coming off of a shoulder injury that caused him to miss half the 2006 season, recently failed a physical with the Buccaneers. Rice said he will need at least three more weeks to rehabilitate his shoulder. The Titans are also reportedly interested in Rice.

The Star-Ledger is also reporting that the Giants have some interest in DE Marcellus Wiley, who has played 10 years in the league, the last two in Jacksonville.

Injury Report: DE Justin Tuck (foot) and CB Corey Webster (hip) did not practice in the morning, but did practice in the afternoon. DE Osi Umenyiora (hip), WR Amani Toomer (knee), WR Plaxico Burress (ankle) practiced in the morning, but did not practice in the afternoon. All five of these players are coming off injuries and were expected to be limited early in camp.

CB Kevin Dockery banged his head hard on the ground in the morning practice and did not practice in the afternoon.

Notes and Quotes: James Butler practiced with the first-team defense at strong safety with Gibril Wilson moving over to first-team free safety. Will Demps, who was the starting free safety last year, practiced with the second unit. “As a competitor and being a starter my whole career, of course it is going to tick you off,” Demps said. “But I have to sit back and compete and understand I am a team player, whatever they want.”

William Joseph is currently the starter at left defensive end with Michael Strahan holding out and Justin Tuck still on the mend.

First rounder Aaron Ross is the second-team left corner.

Players and team personnel are wearing bright blue T-shirts imprinted with the words “Talk is cheap. Play the game.”

Jul 282007
 

Michael Strahan Does Not Report to Training Camp, Mulling Retirement: DE Michael Strahan did not report to training camp yesterday and his agent says he is considering retiring from the NFL.

“Last night I talked to his agent, about 7 last night, and his agent said to me that he was contemplating retiring,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “So that is all I know right now. We have not spoken to him. We will put him on Reserve/Did-Not-Report-to-Camp, so that is what we will do with him for now. Until we get more details, that is really all I can tell you guys.”

When Reese was asked for his reaction about Strahan’s possible decision to retire, he responded, “I thought it was a little bit of a late notice. That is the way the National Football League works sometimes, and I just told him that if he is ready to retire we wish him Godspeed and we will see what happens. (Strahan’s agent) said he might wake up in the morning and say, ‘I want to play.’ I think he tried to reach out to Tom (Coughlin) and they did not connect. So we are still trying to connect with him and get more details, and when we get more details we will know more.”

As we mentioned in “News and Notes” yesterday, there have been rumors that Strahan is unhappy with his current contract, which has two years and $8 million in salary left on it. The contract he signed in 2002 was a heavily front-loaded 7-year, $46 million deal that included $20.9 million in guaranteed money. Strahan also received a $500,000 roster bonus in March from the team. Strahan will turn 36 years old in November and is coming off two serious injuries in three seasons. Reese said that Strahan’s agent did not talk about his client’s contract situation. “I don’t know (if it is about money),” said Reese. “Who knows? Until I talk to Michael, we will see. I don’t want to speculate what it is about. Maybe he is just tired and wants to retire. If that is what it is, we wish him Godspeed on that.”

The Daily News is reporting that Strahan was frustrated by the Giants lack of activity in free agency and is worried that the Giants will be a bad football team in his final season or two. Strahan apparently has received offers from networks that could pay him $2-3 million per season. The Daily News says Strahan initially rejected these offers but is now reconsidering them.

On the other hand, The Star-Ledger is reporting that Strahan may be bluffing in order to get a bigger contract. “He absolutely wants to play this year,” one unidentified source who apparently has spoken to Strahan told The Ledger. The Ledger also says Strahan has felt “disrespected” by Reese since Reese took over the position of general manager with the team.

If Strahan does retire, the Giants may have to move Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end or bring in another end. “This is the NFL,” said Reese. “You re-shuffle, play the hand you have, and you make it work. We will move forward. We have a short list of defensive ends that we will get on right away. We will bring some people in…I am not sure (if Kiwanuka would be moved back to defensive end). We will see what the coaches want to do. That is up to the coaches. They can do what they want to do with that.”

When asked when the Giants might bring someone new in, Reese responded, “We are not going to wait long.”

Reese was also asked about the void left behind by Strahan if he does retire. “Well, I think he is a Hall of Fame football player so obviously it is a big void,” said Reese. “It is hard to replace guys who you think are going to be in the Hall of Fame. I just think it is a big void for us. We do not know anything yet. We will talk to him and when we get more information we will let you know.”

“Michael Strahan called me last night very late and left a message,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. “I didn’t get to the phone, it was after 11:30. I listened to the message this morning at about five. He asked me to call him and I called him, but we haven’t spoken yet. He did not call me back. Obviously, I am disappointed that he’s not here, he’s an important part of our team.”

Coughlin was asked if this would be a distraction for the team. “I hope not. We have had enough of those,” said Coughlin.

Giants Interested in DE Simeon Rice?: The Star-Ledger is reporting that one of the agents for DE Simeon Rice, who was recently waived by the Buccaneers, says the Giants have contacted him about Rice. No visit has yet been scheduled according to the agent.

Roster Moves – Giants Waive HB Cedric Humes; Sign NFL Europe Strong Safety: The Giants have waived HB Cedric Humes. The team has also signed SS Richard Yancy, who played with the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe the past three seasons.

Injury Update: WR Plaxico Burress (ankle) says he wants to practice fully once practices start today. “I’m pretty sure (the staff will) be watching me, but my goal is to go two-a-days,” said Burress. “We open up on ‘Sunday Night Football’ in Dallas, so I’ve got to go out and get all the reps I can.”

Quotes: HB Brandon Jacobs on Head Coach Tom Coughlin: “Yeah, coach is a great guy. A lot of people think bad of him, but coach is a great guy. For the people who don’t know him out there, he’s a real good guy. A lot of people think bad of him, but he’s not a bad guy, he’s not a bad person, he’s good.”

PK Lawrence Tynes on the winds at Giants Stadium: “You know I played in Canada for two years prior to coming to Kansas City. Kansas City is in the Midwest, some people forget that. It’s windy, you know I have played (at Giants Stadium) twice but they were both night games and there wasn’t much of a wind. But you know what? It’s just an excuse. Obviously the wind is just the wind.”

WR Plaxico Burress on Coughlin’s demand that his players keep their mouths shut this year: “He wants it to be a quieter year; we want a lot of things. But I guess we’ll try to abide by keeping it quiet. That’s just not the character of some of the guys that we have on this team. But I guess we’ll try…A little bit of trash-talking doesn’t hurt anybody. It adds a little added incentive to the game for me. We’ll see what happens.”

Jul 272007
 

Players Report to Albany Today for the Start of Training Camp: Giants’ players are scheduled to report to Albany, New York today for the start of training camp. The first practices are scheduled for tomorrow. The team will practice twice in shells on both Saturday and Sunday. Monday will be reserved for meetings and the team will practice in full pads for the first time on Tuesday.

New York Giants Agree to Terms with CB Aaron Ross -– All the Draft Picks Are in the Fold: According to various press reports, the Giants have agreed to terms with CB Aaron Ross, their first-round pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. The contact is reported to be a 5-year, $13.5 million deal that includes $8 million in guaranteed money.

With Ross signed, all eight of the Giants’ 2007 picks are now in the fold.

Injury Report: Head Coach Tom Coughlin provided the following injury update yesterday, heading into the start of training camp: “(WR Amani) Toomer (knee), we are going to have to see exactly where he is. He is coming off of an ACL. He has made good progress. I saw him the other day. He is scheduled to go once a day and I hope it is a full-fledged one, but I think we are going to have to work our way into that. We would not just throw him out there and let him go. (DE) Michael (Strahan) (foot) will go once a day, more by my design than anything else. (DE Justin) Tuck (foot) will have to go once a day. Then we are going to have some guys that we are going to have to check on to see what their status is. (DE) Osi (Umenyiora) (hip) came off an injury, (WR) Plaxico (Burress) (ankle) coming off an injury; we are going to have to see exactly how they are. Hopefully they will come in and they will be just ready to go, period.”

DE Michael Strahan May Hold Out?: Rumors have been running rampant that 35-year old DE Michael Strahan, who is coming off of two serious injuries in three seasons, is unhappy with his current contract and may hold out unless his deal is restructured. Strahan has two years and $8 million in salary left on his current deal.

The Star-Ledger is reporting that Strahan wants to meet with General Manager Jerry Reese this morning and suggests that if the Giants don’t dish out some more dough, Strahan will walk.

If Strahan does not report, he is subject to a fine of up to $14,000 per day by the Giants.

The Ledger reports that an unnamed, high-ranking Giants’ official says the Giants will not budge from its position that Strahan must play out the final two years of his current contract.

July 26, 2007 Media Sessions With Assistant Coaches: The following are portions of the media Q&A sessions with various Giants’ assistant coaches yesterday:

Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo:

Q: Speaking of the hot seat coach, are you ready for training camp , are you ready to improve this defense?

A: Yes, I’m always ready for training camp, I called Pete about mid-way through the summer and he had told me he had received phone calls from all the assistant coaches halfway through vacation itching to come back. You know we enjoy our time off, and that was great, but we are ready to go. For me, it was a little different, I feel like a rookie again. I couldn’t find my way up here, it’s a new university, a new camp. I’ve been in the same place for eight years. But, we are all excited to go. Yeah I am fired up.

Q: Last we saw you at the mini camp you had a sense of what these guys can do. Now, it’s going to be a little different, players have the chance to put the pads on, start hitting, are you anxious to see what you have back?

A: Yes, let’s face it, the game is played with pads on, so I am not going to have a complete feel for what we have, and what we can do, and who we can trust, and who we can count on, until we actually have played a real game of football. I am really anticipating that first day when we put the pads on.

Q: The reason you are standing here right now is because of the way the defense performed last year, whether that is fair or not, they were ranked in the 20s, do you feel that is unacceptable for a defense, especially a Giants defense, especially if they are going to be competitive this year?

A: I am probably no different that any coordinator in this league right now. If they are standing here at their training camp, we are all striving to be the number one defense. I don’t think that anybody wants to be in the 20s and I don’t think that anybody wants to be in the teens. I would not put a figure or a number on it, but I will say this, and I have always been this way, the rankings, the statistics, and all those things, whether it’s defensively or offensively, really take a backseat to one stat. We are all trying to win games, and winning takes care of everything. As a group, as a team, as an offense, as a defense, as a group of special team players, if we can get the W, that’s the one that matters the most.

Q: Earlier in the spring your defensive players said they were eager to learn your system and gave you great reviews, does that make it a lot easier to get your point across?

A: I am happy to hear that. But I don’t know if I would use the word easier. Even when I speak to them tomorrow for the first time, it is just going to be a continuation. This is a long process and I spoke to the guys about that back in the mini-camp, it was just the beginning. We have a lot of growing to do and a lot to get done, and there are still a lot of elements and still a lot of unknowns. We don’t want to put too much emphasis on one portion of this. We have a long ways to go, and that is what training camp is for.

Q: Are you anxious to see how Kiwanuka progresses now?

A: Yes, because let’s face it, his head was spinning trying to learn all of those different things. Now, he can probably add to what he does really well, which is a lot of the physical aspect of the game, and that is all natural, physical football stuff, which he has been doing for years. So, yes I am looking forward to seeing that.

Q: How many reps are you looking for him to get during those defensive sets?

A: At the Sam linebacker position, with what we call the base defense, we want him to get as many as possible. I mean we haven’t figured out a number yet, but we want to keep him healthy and keep him fresh.

Q: Your general manager has expressed concern about the secondary. Do you share that with him, is that area of the defense a question mark?

A: I hate to say that anything is a question mark, but certainly Jerry knows what he is talking about, so I am sure he has a feel, a better feel than me, for what these guys can do in games right now. I think the best way to put it , isn’t that I am concerned about these positions, but rather , I am anxious to find out about these positions. Now, we are getting closer and closer to the first game, so we certainly want to get the questions answered.

Q: Is it a good sign to have the ability to rush the passer and how will that affect the rest of the defense?

A: Certainly, if you have two guys that can do that, or four or five or whatever it is, it makes everyone else behind them better. That’s a slam dunk, a no brainer.

Linebackers Coach Bill Sheridan:

Q: Could you tell me what you see from spring practice and a new unit coming back in the summer now?

A: Probably the biggest change is that we’ve moved Mathias Kiwanuka to Sam. We had a good spring and this will be a very important preseason for him and he’ll get better every day. It’s new for him, laying back in pass coverage. He’s so used to rushing the passer.

Offense Coordinator Kevin Gilbride:

Q: So are we going to recognize this offense this year?

A: I don’t think you will have any difficulty in being reminded of a vast majority of things we have done in the past. I think it will actually be the same. Again, I think we discussed at the end of the spring, there are some different components and I’m anxious to see the next three-four weeks exactly what those parts can do and what will be the things that they do best. And that will be the kind of shape and the tweaking of whatever it is that we do, but essentially they will be the same.

Q: With the Jim Finn Injury, do you use a fullback?

A: That is a great question. We will experiment with Robert Douglas, we will experiment with some of the tight ends and move positions. There are certain kind of runs that you kind of need a fullback and I’m not just talking about short yardage or goal line but certain runs that have been pretty successful for us have required a lead back. Now, you can fool around with one back and there are certain things that you can do that way that you can’t do with the two backs, but those two back runs have been good runs for us and we would like to have the ability to go to them. So if somebody can surface as a proficient fullback we will certainly have that aspect or that part of the game in our game plan. It certainly remains to be seen.

Q: Can Jacobs and Droughns play in the same backfield?

A: Rueben was a fullback at one time, but he certainly does not want to be a fullback again, if you ask him, I’m sure. And he’s a little undersized for what you ask of that position. So could it happen? Yes. Do I anticipate it? In a likely scenario, probably not.

Q: Is there a depth chart for running back? How do we classify Brandon and Rueben?

A: I mean you got to start with Brandon as the guy with Rueben competing for as much playing time as he can get and Brandon trying to hold off and trying to get as much as he can hold on to. But, I mean, there are other guys there too. Derrick Ward, young guy that we are anxious to see what he can do. Again, as Tom just talked about in his speech, there’s some interesting competition at certain positions and it is probably not proper for me to say that I think this guy is going to start. But right now you got to say that Brandon is the guy we feel confident in to be the running back to carry the ball 20-25 times a game, but we will let it all play out.

Q: So you think Jacobs is going to be your guy?

A: He could be, I don’t know. He certainly gives you a tough physical presence and I think that he catches the ball reasonably well and I think he can do that part of it but the other aspect is can you decode what is being thrown at you with all the sophistication and that’s a whole other animal. You know, right now we would like him to, and if he can do all three, great. But make sure we can use you for first and second down back and then if you can do third down that’s great. But right now if somebody can be that guy, we would like him to be that guy. But right now, we don’t know.

Q: Every year we seem to ask when is Eli going to be more like Peyton. Is that a fair question?

A: I don’t think so. The only thing that is similar about them is the last name and that they both are big, cerebral quarterbacks, but the style of offense, the compliments that he has and the complimentary parts that the offense that he has are vastly different then what Eli has. So what we ask him to do, what we ask our offense to do and the different players that we have, is significantly different than what the Indianapolis Colts offense has, talent wise and what they do systematically. So it’s really not a fair question. To be honest with you, it’s fair for us to ask him to get better, yeah, and that is what we have to expect that those times that he plays very, very well we need to see that more often and probably more importantly those times when he makes those big mistakes that we can ask him, he’s certainly smart enough to say, “hey, let’s cut those out” and I think if he does that, we will be delighted.

Quarterbacks Coach Chris Palmer:

Q: What have you learned from your students the last couple months, especially Eli?

A: Well I’ve been very pleased with Eli. I think he’s done an excellent job in the spring. I thought that we worked on his accuracy and we worked on his footwork and I thought he did an excellent job there. I saw improvement from when we first started until the end. And I thought that as the camp went on I thought he became more comfortable with everything.

Q: Are there things you could do in practice to simulate pressure? To simulate a blitz or simulate anything like that and try to work on throwing off the back foot and the things Tom talked about, how you’re going to have to do that at times?

A: Well for me it’s all about balance and rhythm. And I think he sees the blitz and the pressure very, very well. You know there are two types of pressure. There’s mental pressure where you’re in a two-minute drive and you have to execute the mental aspect of it. And then there’s physical pressure and our defense has done a good job giving us a variety of blitzes and coming after us and I thought we handled that fairly well. And I thought that he did an excellent job in that area. I think the quarterbacks, you’re never in a comfort zone where you can throw with both feet on the ground. I mean there are going to be times where that happens, and I know that I’ve seen Eli make all the throws, I’m encouraged. I mean I’ve been around enough good quarterbacks that he can be one of those good quarterbacks that I’ve dealt with in the past. So I’m encouraged by everything that I see right now.

Q: With Tiki gone, can you see Eli taking more control of the huddle, even if it was just in the mini-camps?

A: Well I wasn’t here last year so I really can’t comment on that, but I know this, that he’s talked to the guys that he needed to correct. I thought that he was more vocal. I saw him grow as a person from the first time we started going over the film and watching for thirteen hours. I saw the development of a player that I was very pleased with.

Q: How much is the re-tooled offensive line going to be critical for Eli developing this year?

A: I think a quarterback’s like a good spaghetti sauce. He can cover up those noodles when they’re not real good. And I think the quarterback has to make plays and he makes guys better. Now my wife’s Italian, so don’t get me in trouble for that. I think that quarterbacks make the whole team better and I think if you look at Eli when he’s playing very, very well, he’s done an excellent job in that area.

Q: Is there anything you can point to that says ‘Oh yeah, he’s a Manning’? Is there something in his demeanor, something in his background, something in the way he carries himself that helps him at quarterback?

A: I can tell you that he’s a football player. I can tell you that. And a General Manager in this league who has been very successful and who has gone to Super Bowls, a number of Super Bowls, told me that the salary cap has changed the league, but the development of the player has not changed. And everybody wants to compare Eli and Peyton and everyone forgets that Peyton had a 6-10 season there in his development and nine years later he’s in the Super Bowl. And I think that what I see from Eli is an excellent quarterback that’s going to be very, very good in this league and will lead his team to the Promised Land.

Q: How have you been helping Eli improve between last season and this one?

A: Let me just say that the thirteen hours we spent watching film was very tedious and “Why did you do this? What did you see here?” And when you sit down and you go over films for thirteen hours, that’s a grueling experience and I thought that he learned from it and the things that we talked about early in the film session, he carried out to the field and had great carry-over.

Q: How are you developing that trust you need in a relationship between yourself and your quarterback? How close does it have to come? How quickly is it coming?

A: It varies. It takes two. It’s like a marriage. You’ve got to say, “This is what I see, what did you see?” You have to have an understanding, you have to use the same language, and you’ve got to be open. There are a lot of factors that are involved in that and it doesn’t happen overnight.

Q: Is he a guy that wants it? Some guys want it and some guys can deal with it. Does he want that?

A: Well I hope he wants it, because if not, I’m out of a job. Here’s my experience, any time that we’ve coached a player, if the player thinks that you’re helping him, he’ll listen to you.

Wide Receivers Coach Mike Sullivan:

Q: What’s your outlook for your young receivers (Sinorice Moss and Steve Smith)?

A: Both of those young men bring a lot to the table. I think they both have the skills and ability to help us. I think obviously with Sinorice, it’ll be important that he gets reps, as many of these game-type reps in the preseason. With the situation last year, he was set back a bit with the injuries and so in a lot of ways we need to take extra steps. We’re confident that he’s headed in the right direction. We’ll see his ability and his energy and make for some good competition.

Q: Could Steve Smith have done more in the pre-season mini-camp?

A: It’s so hard to say. Those guys come in and we throw a lot of material at them and they had to make that quick jump from the college game to the pro game. He did a lot of good things, but I can’t say, it’s very premature. We got a lot of practices ahead of us. We’ve got four pre-season games. It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up.

Q: The two of them, are they really competing for the same position or are their skill sets different enough that you guys can use them in different ways?

A: Well we want to get the best players we can on the field. Each of the receivers has a lot of their own unique talents and features that can help us win and whatever the best mixture is, with Coach Coughlin and Coach Gilbride, we’ll put that together and make those decisions with the best players on the field. I think they both have talents and the key thing for them both will be to make sure they understand their assignments, that they’re not making any of the mental errors and all the areas where they can improve. The fundamentals. Their ability to beat man-to-man coverage, to recognize defenses, to recognize zones. If they maximize that, they get that type of momentum heading into the season.

Q: What are each of their strengths?

A: I think Steve catches the ball very well. He’s got very good hands. I think Sinorice has an explosiveness and a suddenness and he’s very, very quick when he’s changing direction. A guy that has been able to show an ability in practices to make some plays inside as well as outside.

Q: Who do you think is going to play where and how often?

A: In any of those type of questions, it’s hard to explain who’s in what position. You’d have to ask Tom. I’m just chain of command. My job is whoever’s out there, get them squared away. Make sure they know what their assignments are. And most importantly improve their fundamentals that help them become the best possible receivers that they can be.

Q: Is Steve further advanced than other young guys you’ve seen maturity-wise?

A: He definitely has brought a lot to the table, impressed a lot of people through the mini-camps and now it’s very important for him to take that next step and build upon it. But the standpoint of where he was at with regards to other receivers at that stage, we’re certainly very impressed with what we’ve seen.

Q: Sinorice fully healthy? Is there any fear at all that he’s not?

A: To my knowledge, I understand he’s in good shape. I’m not aware of any injuries. Again, any of those type of questions, you’re going to have to ask Tom about.

Q: Do you know where Amani is physically or is that just going to be played out in training camp?

A: It’s really going to have to be played out in training camp. I do know he’s worked extremely hard. He’s been very diligent in his rehab in the training room, very focused. Right now coach has said that he’s going to come out and try to practice once a day and we’ll see where that shakes out. Hopefully there will be more and we’re really looking forward to that. We know he can be a big part of our offense.

Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty:

Q: The last couple of years you had a certain running style with Tiki Barber. How much of an adjustment will it be with Jacobs back there now on your offensive line?

A: Brandon ran a lot of the same offense that we have had in the past year and he is very capable along with Rueben Droughns and Derrick Ward to run our offense. Going in we have a core of a running unit, we will do the same that we have done in the past. You always tweak things, not only with the personnel you have but you tweak things against the defense you are going to run. Obviously one guy can make things happen in a different way than another guy. Maybe one guy is more powerful. I mean Brandon Jacobs is a big human being and we want him to get down as fast as he can and open up holes. So we do have a philosophy on offense, as you well know from watching us. You may see some tweaks in that but nothing that we are going to go out and totally change up.

Q: What are the qualities David Diehl has that will make him a good left tackle?

A: The biggest quality that David has is that he is a football player and he is an offensive lineman. Probably when he was born he was able to walk or crawl, he probably did it in three point stance. Now that’s what he is. He takes his job, whatever it is, very seriously. And I have been fortunate from a personal standpoint to be around a group of guys on the offensive line like we have here with the New York Giants because they are all in that same mold. They come to work, in the classroom and on the football field, to get better and make their team better. That’s really what he brings to the table. Our habits are formed at a very young age, when you are a youngster. When you have good habits, work habits, it carries over into whatever profession you choose in life. David’s work habits are second to none.

Running Backs Coach Jerald Ingram:

Q: Do you find that Brandon Jacobs leaves himself vulnerable at times near the end of runs and have you tried to teach him how to go down?

A: The thing that is different about him, is that he is one of the biggest running backs to play the game. Franco was big, Eddie George was big, this guy, he is a different kind of big. He is “defensive” big. He is big and strong, so in his mind going down equates to being defeated, so that is why he wants to stand strong. But, that is part of the learning process that he has. We are all creatures of habit, so he has been able to get away with those things over the years, and probably carried people for extra yardage by doing that. But, he is in the NFL now, so he has to learn how to get a little bit lower, get yourself on the ground, so you can last a little bit longer, and we can protect ourselves by running the clock. So, yes we have addressed the issue.

Q: Brandon has a very tough mentality about him, and obviously creates a physical presence out on the field. What else does he need to do to complete his game?

A: Playing physical and tough, running straight at people, only gets about 1.5 yards per carry. This is the NFL, we need to be around 5 yards per carry, and over 4.5 yards per carry is good. You know, it’s all great, but you have to be able to make people miss in this league. And you have to make big plays, because big plays excite the offense. Big plays excite the offense. Big plays excite your offensive linemen. He will have enough physical plays that will excite our defensive players; he will excite our offensive line by just being physical and big and hitting people. But, you have to be a playmaker in the NFL, to last long and be productive and be a good, successful team. That’s what he wants to bring. He wants to bring some leadership, he really does. He may not have known how in the past but he has grown to learn how now. Now, he has the shot to be a leader. He gets his values lined up right; everything will take care of itself. Learn how to get low, learn how to handle situations, learn short yardage, goal line, the best thing we did last year was teaching him how to run the 2-minute drill and third down situations. He had never had to deal with these types of situations before as a running back. That is your value as a running back, when you leave this game; you want to leave as someone who could do everything. You don’t want to just be a power back, a goal line back, no, your value is being able to handle everything. Did you protect the quarterback, did you help the o-line, did you move the chains? It is just like Walter Payton, you know, he was everything.

Q: In practice, we have seen beautiful form as a receiver from Jacobs, but we never see that during the games. Will we see more of that?

A: Brandon has good hands. It is amazing when you look at some of the bigger backs from last year, and how effective they were in the pass game. When they catch a five-yard pass, that is almost a guaranteed extra three yards until they are brought down, so that’s a solid eight yards. It gives your quarterback a chance, so he isn’t throwing third and long or third and extra long.

Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope:

Q: Are there any new, good drills that you will be implementing this training camp?

A: I do have a couple new drills, yes, and they will be exposed on the practice field. So, you will see them when they are there.

Q: How much of Jeremy continuing to improve is on Jeremy and how much of the equation are the other components that go into production from a tight end, such as Eli Manning’s ability to get Jeremy the ball?

A: Unlike golf, where people can go out and work on their own, it doesn’t quite work that way. It is combination of many things, and we spent a lot of time this spring getting everyone on the same page and trying to emphasize getting the ball downfield more. Everybody is displeased that a guy with his size only averaged 9.1 yards per reception. We have to do better than that. It doesn’t take that many balls downfield to improve that. Hopefully, something that we can come out of this camp with is the ability to push the ball more downfield and stretch the field. Particularly against the type of coverages that are played today, so many two-deep coverage schemes. We hope him to be a player in the middle of the field.

Q: Jeremy is in his 6th year, do you feel that he is still on the rise?

A: I think that initially you have to be every year, because he has been a Pro Bowler two times. He led the team in receiving last year, he’s not an unknown item. There are always coaches who are eyeing him, and plan to stop the type of player that he is. You get to a point where the player physically probably won’t get a lot bigger or faster, the age is in the decline, so the experience and the things that they have learned along the way they need to put that all together. And then, as you said, it’s about creating opportunities, getting open, getting him the ball, and then contributing that way. I thought that he made a great deal of progress on the blocking side this past year. He really contributed to our running game. You don’t run for that many yards, especially off tackle, without contribution from a guy like him.

Q: Everyone makes a big deal of what he does in the off-season, are you satisfied that he does what he has to do to be ready for training camp?

A: The conditioning part of it, you can do anywhere and you can do it with your teammates, or you can do it by yourself. I don’t have an argument for that.

Notes and Quotes: Linebackers Coach Bill Sheridan said he has been really impressed with WLB Kawika Mitchell.

Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty of LT Guy Whimper: “He’s improved in 2007 in a lot of facets: Strength, footwork, knowledge, the mental part of the game. Now what he needs to show is, when the pads come on, the consistency of making the right moves every play, whether in individuals or team work…He knows now that he needs to fully concentrated on his opportunity – and what an opportunity he’s got. I know he’s turned the page on 2006, which is what you want to see.”

Defensive Backs Coach Peter Giunta on CB E.J. Underwood: “He’s starting all over again. He got to the third preseason game and he got hurt, and then he couldn’t do anything. He got a taste of what it’s like to be part of it and then it was taken away from him. Hopefully that will motivate him.”

Giunta on the defensive backs adjusting to Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s more physical coverage scheme: “The guys like it, because they get to be physical instead of sitting back and reading and reacting. We couldn’t do a whole lot in the OTAs because of the league rules (restricting contact), so we’ll see how we do with the pads on.”

Spagnuolo on the shifting of Mathias Kiwanuka from defensive end to linebacker: “I’ve been involved with a number of these guys who were defensive ends in college that stand up in the league, and it’s not an easy transition. It has not been easy for any of ’em. I don’t know of any that I’ve had that have been slam-dunk, no problem, he can do it. There’s always a growth process and that process is sometimes a little bit longer than we would like it to be. We obviously see something in him from an athletic standpoint that he can help us there, so we’ll stick with it, for now.”

Spagnuolo says his biggest adjustment from moving from position coach to defensive coordinator will be on game day when he now has to make the defensive calls. “As an assistant coach, by the time Saturday came, I pretty much had done my job,” said Spagnuolo. “There were a couple little things I had to do on game day, but the bulk of my work was Monday through Saturday. Now it will be Monday right through Sunday.”