May 312008
 

New York Giants Return to Practice in Preparation for the 2008 NFL Season:  A day after receiving their Super Bowl Championship rings, the New York Giants returned to practice fields on Friday for the first of six Organized Team Activity (OTA) practices in advance of the June 11-13 full-squad mini-camp.

The players worked primarily on individual and unit drills, not a full-squad practice.  The emphasis was on fundamentals.  On Saturday the players will be back on the fields again with the offense and defense facing off in no-pads, no-contact workouts.

“That, for me, is what it is all about,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin after Friday’s OTA practice, “having the players on the field with the coaches, working on the game that everybody loves and again keeping your eye on the prize.”

“We had our rings (Thursday) night and we are on the field (Friday),” Coughlin said.  “It is flipping the page and it is moving forward and I thought that was the significance of today.  After spending the offseason basically trying to get back to catching up I feel like our staff is all back to where we normally are.  It was a really good connection, I think, for everybody.”

“The timing is great, because this is the first time we’re back on the field,” said DE/DT Justin Tuck said.  “With the ring we can pretty much put ’07 to rest and start a new chapter in ’08.”

“I think all of us look at it that way,” LT David Diehl said.  “We enjoyed the moment of getting the ring.  But now it’s over.  It’s back to business and working hard and getting back on the right track and focusing on the next season, like we have this entire offseason.  It’s time to go back to work, because we understand that it was the things we did in the offseason to get us ready for training camp that separated us.”

“It is definitely fun to be out there with the guys running around,” said HB Brandon Jacobs.  “You love going out and opening up the runs and actually playing around with the football.  I think the OTAs, fresh off a season like we just had, are better.  They’re better this year than it was in any other year.”

“It was definitely fun, I can’t even deny that,” said DE Osi Umenyiora.  “We’re a little rusty, but it was still fun.  I enjoyed myself…I was out here and I was like ‘Man, I am still trying to get my technique back down.’  So I feel like we need to start focusing on one thing at a time and basically work on our preseason schedule, work on training camp, work on mini camps, and then we will start worrying about what is going to happen after that.”

After the June 11-13 mini-camp, the veterans will be off until training camp starts on July 24.  The rookies will work for an additional 10 days.

May 302008
 

Giants Receive Their Super Bowl Rings:  The Super Bowl Champion New York Giants received their Super Bowl Championship rings at a private ceremony at Tiffany and Co. last night in New York City.

The rings include 1.5 carats in diamonds and cost approximately $5,500 each (though they are valued at $25,000).  The ring features the team’s three Super Bowl trophies, the team’s “ny” logo set in round diamonds, and the phrase “World Champions” in raised letters on the top and bottom bezel.  Channel-set diamonds also are included on the left and right bezel.  One shank includes each player’s last name and jersey number, the phrase “Eleven Straight on the Road”, and the NFL Shield.  The other shank includes the Super Bowl XLII logo, the final score of the game, and the date and location of the game.

“After four months of waiting, it’s everything I expected it to be,” said defensive end Michael Strahan.  “It feels good.  I mean look at it – it is unbelievable.  An unbelievable ring, we are an unbelievable team, and it was an unbelievable season.”

According to the Giants, 85 rings were distributed last night.  And 57 of those were to players, including former Giants safety Gibril Wilson and linebacker Kawika Mitchell (linebacker Reggie Torbor was not present).  Missing were tight end Jeremy Shockey, linebacker Antonio Pierce (currently on his honeymoon), and cornerback Darren Barnett.  Also receiving rings were the assistant coaches, former Giants’ General Manager Ernie Accorsi, and team inspiration Lt. Colonel Greg Gadson.

Giants’ President/CEO John Mara and Chairman/Executive Vice President Steve Tisch provided brief remarks.  Then Ann Mara and Joan Tisch, the widows of Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch, were presented Super Bowl pendants by their sons.  General Manager Jerry Reese and Head Coach Tom Coughlin were then given their rings, as was Ernie Accorsi.  Coughlin then distributed rings to the 18 assistant coaches, Gadson, the team captains (quarterback Eli Manning, Strahan, center Shaun O’Hara, and punter Jeff Feagles), and the rest of the players.

“The thing that is important to recognize in terms of our players and our organization is tonight we spend a lot of time talking about the ring and what the ring symbolizes, but really what it is you are going to carry this in your heart forever and that is what is important,” said Coughlin.  “You are the world champions, you never get tired of hearing about that, it is a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment for this group of young men and how they went about doing it, the coaching staff and the group of players that accomplished what they did.”

“As a kid you always think about winning a Super Bowl, winning a championship,” said LT David Diehl.  “When you have that ring you are in a unique class.  It is something that we will remember for the rest of our lives and something no one will be able to take away from us.”

“We did it together and won it as a team,” said Manning.  “Every game was different and in every situation someone else stepped up and contributed to us winning.  It’s all about the Giants.”

May 282008
 

Michael Strahan Update:  The Star-Ledger‘s Giants’ Blog is reporting that there have been no contract talks between the Giants and the agent for DE Michael Strahan the past few weeks.  However, the Blog is reporting that both sides are expected to talk soon.

Upcoming Events – Giants to Receive Super Bowl Rings on Thursday:  The Giants will be receiving their Super Bowl XLII rings during a private ceremony on Thursday evening.  The event will be held at Tiffany and Co.’s New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue (at 57th Street) from 7:30-8:30PM.  “Giants Blue Carpet” guest arrival will begin at 6:30PM.

On Friday, the Giants begin their Organized Team Activity (OTA) days.  A mandatory full-squad mini-camp will be held on June 11-13.

May 222008
 

Barring unforeseen injuries, the 2008 New York Giants should be a better team than the 2007 version that surprisingly won an NFL Championship.  In a nutshell, the 2008 version should be stronger across the board due to added experience and confidence in what largely is a very young team.  And team management appears to have done a nice job of filling what few holes there were on the roster.

Indeed, some would argue, including myself, that the Giants seriously contended for/won their NFL Title a year or two earlier than expected.  That’s because the youngsters on this team played with poise, maturity, and productivity well beyond their relatively young ages.

That all said, that does not mean the Giants will repeat.  The odds will be stacked against them.  Winning an NFL Championship is extremely difficult and repeating is even more so.  Everyone will be gunning for the Giants.  Heck, their record may not be as good and they might have to fight tooth-and-nail in a very tough division just to make the playoffs again.  But I am firmly convinced, talent wise, this will be a better team.

Let’s look at the reasons why:

Eli Manning: Yes, he’s one of the youngsters.  27 is still young by NFL quarterback standards and Manning only just completed his third season as full-time NFL starter.  Let me be clearer – Eli hasn’t entered his prime yet.  Most quarterbacks with that kind of limited experience are not supposed to already have a Super Bowl MVP trophy.  It is certainly possible that Manning will regress into the very inconsistent quarterback of the 2007 regular season.  Undoubtedly he will still have his ups and downs.  Many fans can’t seem to accept the fact that all quarterbacks – even the very good ones – have bad games or even down seasons.  My guess is that Manning simply continues to improve.  I don’t think he will be as flawless and regularly clutch as he was during the 4-game playoff stretch, but we should see better play and more consistency from him.  With the Super Bowl, he is now the unquestioned leader of the offensive team.  That will help.  So will the added confidence.  And with the Super Bowl, a heavy weight must have been lifted from his shoulders.  He will still be under heavy scrutiny and criticism, but the load has been lightened immeasurably.

The Second-Year Players: Fans and the media always make the mistake of looking at newcomers, namely free agents and draft picks, as the sole source of a team’s projected improvement.  It will be the improvement that the 2007 draft class makes that will have a greater impact on this team.

In his book Finding the Winning Edge by coaching legend Bill Walsh, there is an entire section on why “in most instances, first-year players encounter too many obstacles which must be overcome for them to make a significant contribution.”  Some of those obstacles include physical and mental immaturity, the “survival mode” mentality that most rookies adopt during training camp and the preseason that limits focus, the lack of individualized attention these players receive the further into the NFL calendar a team goes, and the often overwhelming change that occurs as a rookie transitions from college to a totally new and adult lifestyle.

It is absolutely astounding that the Giants benefitted immediately as much as they did from their 2007 draft class, and in particular from CB Aaron Ross, WR Steve Smith, TE Kevin Boss, and HB Ahmad Bradshaw.  Lesser, but important contributions, also came from DT Jay Alford, LB Zak DeOssie, and S Michael Johnson.  And the Giants received quality minutes from rookie free agent Michael Matthews.  These guys ranged in age from 21-25.  They not only produced, but they produced in the clutch.  Their poise and maturity, their ability to handle the mental as well as the physical elements of the game, in the biggest of games, was remarkable.

With a full year under their belts, these players are now positioned to improve and elevate the play of the entire team.  The additional playing time and high-pressure experience from the playoff run expedites matters.  Keep in mind that all of these players have only scratched the surface of their potential.  Considered one of the top rookies in the NFL last year, Ross was self-admittedly overwhelmed for much of the season and played hurt down the stretch.  He should make more plays on the ball in 2008.  Smith missed most of the season.  When he played, the Giants’ offense became much more consistent and dangerous.  He might be a better down-the-field target than most fans realize.  Boss will improve as a blocker as he continues to improve his technique and strength.  And his productivity in the passing game as a receiver should increase fairly dramatically.  Ahmad Bradshaw may in fact be the best running back on the team and that’s saying something given the talents of Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward.  Jay Alford saw his minutes increase down the stretch and improved with each game.  Zak DeOssie should be a factor at the competition at linebacker.  Michael Johnson has the chance to start and improve the overall level of athleticism and physical play at safety.

Plaxico Burress: The Giants’ best offensive player missed most of training camp, all of the preseason, and rarely practiced for five months during the regular season and playoffs.  Despite all of that, he had an excellent season.  Indeed, he was a touchdown machine early in the season, scoring eight touchdowns in six games, until the ankle really began to take its toll.  If healthy or near full strength, he is quite capable of putting together the best season a Giants’ receiver has ever had in the team’s 83-year history.

Brandon Jacobs: In his first full season as a starter, Jacobs rushed for a 1,000 yards and average 5.0 yards per carry despite missing five full games and the bulk of a sixth.  Not only do I expect him to put up bigger rushing and touchdown numbers in 2008, but I expect him to break more big runs.

Mathias Kiwanuka, Jeremy Shockey, and Derrick Ward: Getting these three back healthy will be a tremendous benefit to the team.  Many forget how productive Ward was when he played, including a 154 yard effort against the Bears.

Corey Webster: I am still floored by the dramatic level of improvement Corey Webster made from the regular season to the post-season.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it.  Webster not only just improved his play, but he was one of the Giants’ best players on the field in the playoffs.  If that level of play continues, the Giants are going to be very, very tough on defense.

The Left Side of the Offensive Line: The middle and right-side of the Giants’ offensive line has been the same since 2005 and that cohesion and chemistry is an advantage that many NFL teams do not enjoy.  Many people thought the left side of the Giants’ offensive line was going to be a problem last year.  It wasn’t.  And with a year under their belt playing next to each other, David Diehl and Rich Seubert will be even better.

The 2008 Offseason Additions: Danny Clark is a better linebacker than most realize.  He will push hard for playing time.  If he doesn’t start, it’s a good sign that Gerris Wilkinson is ready.  Giants’ safeties made too many mental mistakes in 2007.  That won’t happen with Sammy Knight if he plays.  Knight may not start, but he will be a very good mentor for all of the young safeties.

Don’t expect much of an immediate impact from Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff (other than special teams), but each of the Giants’ first three 2008 draft picks might significantly contribute.  Kenny Phillips may start on opening day and be a serious upgrade despite being a rookie.  Terrell Thomas is ideally suited to the press and blitzing schemes the Giants employ.  He won’t start, but he could end up playing a lot.  The presence of Burress, Toomer, Smith, Shockey, and Boss likely means there won’t be many balls thrown in the direction of Mario Manningham in 2008, but he could surprise, especially in 4-WR sets or if someone gets hurt.  He’s very dangerous.

The Coaching Staff: For one, the guillotine hanging over their necks is gone.  They are not going anywhere and that in itself commands respect.  But the real respect will come from having done it.  Secondly, many forget that Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme was completely new last year.  The players will be much, much more comfortable with it from the get-go.  And with added comfort, there will be even more wrinkles.  Third, the offensive coaches should have a better level of understanding about what works and what doesn’t work with this group of players.

Keep in mind this one important fact:  In the NFC East, the Giants were the only team not to be significantly hurt by coaching changes.  The Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins all lost quality coaches.

Final note… I just don’t see a lot of holes on this team.  This is one of the more complete rosters I’ve seen while closely following the Giants.  The DL is one of the best in football.  The draft strengthened and deepened the secondary and linebacking corps a great deal.  Eli Manning has proved he can do it.  This may be the deepest running back group in the NFL.  This may be the deepest collection of wide receivers the Giants have had in decades.  The Giants have two quality tight ends.  The offensive line is very solid and underrated.  There is a nice mix of youth and veterans.  The players now believe in the coaching staff.  And everyone has the experience and confidence of having already done it.

I personally hope the media, fans, and possibly other teams underestimate the Giants.  They shouldn’t.  This team is good.  Very good.

May 222008
 

New York Giants Offensive Assistant Coach Quotes:  Quarterbacks Coach Chris Palmer on QB Eli Manning:  “Eli is exceptional.  We had our meeting and he talked about the things that he wanted to improve.  He is a hardworking guy.  He is well grounded and he knows that it is just the beginning for him.  I think he can get better, I think he thinks he can get better, and if those things happen we will have a very, very bright future.”

Wide Receivers Coach Mike Sullivan on the competition at wide receiver:  “Well, competition brings out the best in everybody and we are fortunate that we have a couple veteran receivers who have made a lot of plays over their careers with Amani, with Plaxico, and with Steve Smith really stepping up toward the end of last year in the playoffs and making plays for us, and Sinorice Moss with all the ability that he brings despite having had some of the injuries, and David Tyree – what can you say?  The guy has a history of making plays and stepping up and responding when he has been called upon and certainly making one of, if not the, greatest catches in Super Bowl history.  Then you throw into the mix Domenik Hixon and Mike Jennings and Brandon London, who were all a part of our team last year, and now with the addition of Mario Manningham and D.J. Hall we are excited.”

Sullivan on WR Plaxico Burress:  “Absolutely (he can get better).  In looking back over the past couple of years I was putting together some clinic tapes and doing some things in the offseason and pulling some clips of him from ’05 and ’06 and my gosh, he looks in many ways so much faster and more explosive.  I think about all he went through this past year with the ankle and how hobbled he was and how a lot of players might have went on (injured reserve) and not been able to fight through that.  I know he is very excited about getting himself healed.  He is pleased with the progress of his rehab and I think he can’t wait to get back into the fray and see where he can go with two healthy ankles underneath him and two sturdy legs and take his game to that next level.”

Sullivan on WR Mario Manningham:  “Manningham was a player (in college) that I felt had great quickness and ability to separate underneath and he also made a lot of plays down the field.  He had good build-up speed and was able to run by a lot of guys and then when he did catch the ball underneath he made some people miss.  He really was a pretty complete receiver and we are excited about seeing where he fits into our scheme and how we can utilize him and how his talents can fit into what we are trying to do.”

Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty on the young offensive line backups:  “I see some change in those younger guys.  I am really anxious for the OTAs (organized team activities), mini-camp, and training camp to find out a little bit more about a Kevin Boothe, Adam Koets, Guy Whimper, and Na’Shan Goddard has come back to us a second time, and we have a young guy Brandon Torrey who has been with the Steelers.  With those kind of guys you see and kind of gauge where they are at this point and whether or not they can help you during the season if need be.  That is the message that Guge (Assistant Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo) and I have been sending out to them all the time, reminding them that it is about time you guys step up and push to be a starter.  We don’t want guys around who are just satisfied being a practice squad guy or guys who are satisfied just being a backup.  You don’t have success in this league with that attitude.”

May 212008
 

Chris Snee Talks Contract:  RG Chris Snee addressed questions from the media yesterday regarding his contract.  His current contract will expire after the upcoming 2008 NFL season.

“It’ll be something that, if it happens, obviously I’d love to stay here,” said Snee.  “But for this year, I’m a member of this team and I’m looking forward to the season and we’ll face that when the time comes.  Right now, my focus is on getting my body ready for the season.”

Snee was asked about LT David Diehl recently getting a new deal.  “Obviously, I’m happy for him,” Snee said.  “Anytime you see a fellow lineman and a good friend get something he deserves, I’m happy for him…I’m not worried if I’m next. I know my time will come.”

“I’m very happy with where I am,” said Snee.  “I’m an employed member of this team for the upcoming season.  I am not disgruntled or unhappy with my current deal.  It’s one that I had signed and I really don’t think that there’s an issue to be discussing.  I will be there and I will be ready to go.”

Brandon Jacobs Looking to Stay Healthy:  HB Brandon Jacobs said yesterday that one of his primary goals is to remain healthy for the entire season.  Jacobs missed five and a half games in 2007 with a sprained MCL, which he suffered in the opener against the Cowboys, and a hamstring injury, which he suffered in week 11 against the Lions.

“I think I’ve proven myself as far as me playing and I can get it done,” said Jacobs.  “But there is a doubt in a lot of peoples’ minds whether or not I can stay healthy, so I’m going to give that to people too.  There are doubts all over the place, man.  You just have to beat them.”

“Somebody got blocked into the side of me in Dallas, that very, very, very, very seldom happens,” said Jacobs.   “Then I jumped in the air against Detroit and pulled my hamstring jumping in the air.  How dies that happen?  I have no idea but it happened.  It’s a freak thing that happened.  I’m back to prove myself and show that I can go 16 games and do what I do.”

Jacobs also had offseason surgery on his wrist.  “My wrist is good,” said Jacobs.  “There was never nothing big about it, it was just something that had to be cleaned out.”

Mike Pope Addresses Questions About Jeremy Shockey:  As expected, the number one topic of conversation when Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope addressed the media yesterday was TE Jeremy Shockey.

“We spoke about that right before the draft and through the winter a little bit, yeah,” said Pope.  “A good way to look at that is the picture of Phil Simms (in 1990) in the tunnel out here (watching the Giants-Bears playoff game when he was out for the season with an injury).  We all remember that shot.  And Phil has said how difficult that was for him.  I don’t think you can individualize this.  Any player who’s a big part of the team and gets out of the roster for a period of time, it’s a terrific shock because that’s what they do.  He had a lot to do with us getting (us to the Super Bowl) and it’s every player’s goal to play in that game and win the game.  I know he was very, very upset about not being able to finish what we collectively started.  I’m sure there was a lot of disappointment.”

“I don’t think he’s any different than other players,” said Pope.  “Once the team gets back together and they get involved together, those things – whatever they have been – tend to become less of a factor and they eventually disappear.  You start playing together, you start winning and the upside of the game is what you’re looking at, then things usually run fairly smoothly.”

“He said to me back before the draft that none of his problems were with our offense, with our players on the team, or how he was used,” Pope said.  “He said ‘I dropped enough balls.  I missed blocks.’  So he’s not self-cleansing here with this whole approach.  He really is not.  So I think those things really are unrelated to how he played.  He knows he can play better.  He hasn’t given up on self-improvement in any way shape or form.”

Pope was also asked about the speculation that QB Eli Manning was better without Shockey.  “That’s demeaning to both players,” said Pope.  “To think that one player has to be out of the picture before another player can surface, that’s ludicrous.  Eli Manning has been on a constant scale of improvement; that’s very obvious…(Manning’s improvement) wasn’t (the result of) the absence of anybody; it was the ascension of some other players.  You’d have to be pretty narrow-minded to look at things that way.  This was not a situation wher the Vice President becomes president because something bad happened to the President.”

Notes and Quotes:  Safeties Coach David Merritt says that heading into training camp, Michael Johnson is the starter at free safety and James Butler is the starter at strong safety.

Merritt on S James Butler:  “James, for his first time playing a full season as far as getting play time on the field, I would give James definitely an A.  James played well enough for us to win the Super Bowl.  You take just the Super Bowl itself and look at that kid’s production in that game alone, the biggest game of his career, the biggest game of my coaching career, he played his butt off.  If you just go back and evaluate him, not from the TV copy, you go back and evaluate the film here in Giants Stadium you will see that James Butler made tons of plays.  Yeah there were times up and down where maybe James was out of position, but once again you take a young man who has never been out there on the field and now all of a sudden he is having to play multiple plays there are going to be some things that are going to happen maybe a little fast.  I truly believe that is what happened to him on the field a couple of times, but for the majority of the time James Butler was in the right place, he put us in the correct defense as far as the coverage, and he played his butt off for us.”

Merritt on S Kenny Phillips:  “The thing is that Kenny came out early as a junior, but you know what?  This kid, in the classroom, has shown unbelievable recall for the defense and what I mean by that is that we put in things back in the mini camp early and he is able to recall it back to me and here it is a week or two later.  That is one thing when you are dealing with safeties because they are the quarterbacks of the defense, they control all the coverage, they get them in and out of checks, and this kid was able to recall a lot of the information and things that we had spoken about weeks before.  As far as his smarts and his intellect I am very, very excited about that.  Now there is some stuff as far as on the field that I will work with him with as far as understanding angles and how he approaches certain routes and things like that, but that is my job as a coach.  As far as his God given ability mentally the kid is very good.”

Cornerbacks Coach Peter Giunta on Corey Webster:  “(I am) very confident, very confident that he will continue to develop and get better and better.  He is a very hardworking kid and he has been here a lot in the offseason working hard to get better and I see that as a positive.  The only thing that would hold him back would be any kind of injury stuff, but he was healthy last year and I look forward to him having a great year this year.”

Giunta on Terrell Thomas:  “He has size, speed, and athletic ability, which was very attractive.  The other thing was he came from a pro style of defense in Pete Carroll’s system (at USC) that he had in pro football with the Jets and New England and Minnesota.  He put a lot of things that we do as far as press coverage and playing inside as a nickel and blitzing so he has experience in a pro style defense, which was attractive to us…he is a little bit further along than some of the kids that just play one technique or they just play a certain style of coverage.  He played multiple coverages and was asked to do a lot of different thing which helps accelerate his progress.”

Linebackers Coach Bill Sheridan on the competition at weakside linebacker:  “I think going into the spring practices (Gerris Wilkinson) will be (the starter), just because he is coming back and Danny Clark is coming from outside.  I think both of them understand that the position is wide open and Bryan Kehl would be considered in the mix, too.  We are not going to necessarily pigeonhole Bryan as a SAM or a WILL, so I think he will do some of both in the spring and if he can make a splash he will be considered as well.”

Sheridan on Mathias Kiwanuka:  “I think he will be much, much further along (than last year).  I think when he got hurt he had showed so much improvement every week and I think he would have continued to go and get better had he not gotten hurt and been able to play for the rest of the season.  I think he is a lot more confident in the schemes and the Xs and Os.  He will continue to just get better with becoming familiar with playing the position and the pass coverages.  I anticipate him being an excellent player.”

Sheridan on Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff:  “I did like both of them going into the draft.  I had evaluated both guys and I had gone to Jon Goff’s senior workout at Vanderbilt.  They are both big.  They are all of 6-2 plus, almost 6-3, they are both 240 pounds.  So just walking in the door they are great size guys and both of them are really smart.  Maybe you hear that all the time and you think it is trite, but it is so much easier to win with guys that are really smart, and they are.  We interviewed them both at the combine and watching film with them, and they know football, they can talk football, they can explain football, and in the short time that I have had to visit with them and meet them here they understand exactly what we are installing.  They can reiterate back to me what I just told them five minutes ago, they understand when we go and do some walk-thrus and jog-thrus, and even in the rookie mini camp they did a great job.  They are really smart guys.”

Defensive Line Coach Mike Waufle on DE Osi Umenyiora’s run defense:  “Osi has really improved on is his run defense.  He is very consistent at it.  In fact, I was showing the rookies a particular alignment today which Osi plays.  He is playing really well.”

May 202008
 

New York Giants Sign TE Eric Butler Again:  According to Giants.com, the Giants have signed rookie free agent TE Eric Butler (Mississippi State) again.  The Giants originally signed Butler on May 8th, but waived him on May 12th after the rookie mini-camp.

A scouting report on Butler is available in the 2008 NFL Draft Review and Rookie Free Agent Signings section of the website.

Article on the 2008 New York Giants:  After the Fairy Tale, Giants Ready for Repeat Run by Matt Mosley of ESPN.com

Article on QB Eli Manning and TE Jeremy Shockey:  Ready to ‘Shock’ by Dan Martin of The New York Post

May 162008
 

DE Antonio Wynn Visits:  According to various press reports, unrestricted free agent DE Renaldo Wynn (New Orleans Saints) visited the Giants on Wednesday.  Wynn is an 11-year veteran who has played with the Jaguars (1997-2001), Redskins (2002-2006), and Saints (2007).

The Star-Ledger and The New York Post are reporting that Wynn left without a contract but could still sign with the Giants. “He had a good visit and there’s interest on both ends,” said Wynn’s agent.  “We’ll continue to talk and see what develops.”

The Ledger Giants’ Blog reports that an unidentified source says the interest in Wynn has nothing to do with DE Michael Strahan returning or not in 2008.

Giants Cut DE Antonio Reynolds:  According to The Daily News and The New York Post, the Giants have cut rookie DE Antonio Reynolds.

Saints Say Shockey Trade Talks Are Dead:  According to the general manager of the New Orleans Saints, the trade talks between the Saints and Giants for the services of disgruntled TE Jeremy Shockey are dead.

“It’s no secret we had some discussions with (the Giants) and we just couldn’t come to a conclusion on the right compensation,” said Saints’ General Manager Mickey Loomis.  “I understand that.  He’s a very good player and the Giants don’t want to just give him away – unless they feel like they’re getting really good value.  But for the most part that’s dead…I don’t anticipate that being rekindled.”

Michael Strahan Looking for $8 Million in 2008?:  According to The Daily News, two unidentified sources “familiar with Strahan’s situation” say DE Michael Strahan wants the Giants to double his current $4 million salary to $8 million to encourage him to return in 2008.  Strahan is entering the last year of a 7-year, $46 million extension.

The Daily News is reporting that in a meeting with Giants’ officials in March, Strahan was told,”We’ll take care of you” financially.  According to one unidentified source, Strahan has been told the team is willing to go as high as $6 million for one season.

Strahan’s agent says both sides have not talked contract.  The Daily News says it is not clear whether Strahan is willing to play for less than $8 million.  The paper also says it is not clear if Strahan would go to training camp as a condition for getting a doubling of his salary.  An unidentified source says Strahan has not been given permission to miss camp again this year without the risk of being fined.

May 152008
 

Michael Strahan Says He Has “Pretty Much” Made His Decision:  At a charity event last night, DE Michael Strahan said that he has “pretty much” made up his mind on whether to play in 2008 or retire.  However, Strahan says he will not make his thoughts public at this time until he is “100 percent sure”.

“I think the guys want me to come back,” said Strahan.  “I think we had a great time together.  Osi (Umenyiora) called me out of the blue two days ago and said ‘Do you remember 2005?  We had so much fun.  It was slightly more fun than last year.  I think we can do it again.  He’s trying to drop these subtle hints.  I was like, ‘Well, we probably could, but I don’t know Osi.’  But there are times I want to and times that I don’t.”

“I’ll be honest with you, I pretty much know what I’m going to do right now,” said Strahan.  “But you know what the thing is?  If I say it, I can’t change my mind.  So I would rather wait until I know I’m 100 percent sure that when I say what I’m going to do, I’m going to do it.  Because if I say I’m retired, then I’m not going to come back the next day.  If I’ve graduated from football, I won’t come back the same day in the Masters’ program.  And if I say I’m going to play again then I know I’m committed to playing.  So I know what I want to do.  I just want to make sure that its 100 percent what I want to do, because either way it’s a heck of a commitment.”

“(I feel) better (now compared to this time last year),” said Strahan.  “I mean the ring will make me feel better.  Just winning everything makes you feel great.  But there’s that Catch-22 because you feel great, you think we need to go back and defend it, but then you think ‘I couldn’t write a better ending to the story.’  So take your pick. Catch-22.”

Strahan was also asked about the Giants saying that they would likely increase his compensation if he plays in 2008. “Yeah, but it’s not that,” said Strahan.  “Really, you know, money is great.  Trust me.  Nobody wants to work for free.  But at the same time, I can make money doing other stuff that means when I wake up on Sunday I’m not sore, and I can have more time to enjoy life and be with my family.  There are a lot of other ways to do other things and make money, but that’s not the sole purpose of life.  Really, at this point, it’s enjoying myself and enjoying my family, my friends.”

Giants to Receive Their Rings in Two Weeks:  According to DE Michael Strahan, the Giants players; coaches; executives and administration; scouting and personnel staff; medical, training, and equipment staff; and others associated with the team will receive their Super Bowl XLII rings on May 29 in a private ceremony.  More than 200 rings will be given out.  The player rings are valued more than $10,000 each.