Jul 312010

Ike Hilliard and David Tyree Retire As Giants: Former Giants’ wide receivers Ike Hilliard and David Tyree both officially retired as New York Giants yesterday after each had signed 1-day contracts.

Hilliard was drafted in the 1st round of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Giants. He was waived the Giants in March 2005. Hilliard then played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for four seasons. In his eight years with the Giants, Hilliard caught 368 passes for 4,630 yards and 27 touchdowns. In the 2000 NFC Championship Game, Hilliard caught 10 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the 41-0 win over Minnesota.

Tyree was drafted in the 6th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Giants. He was waived by the team before the start of the 2009 season and played with the Baltimore Ravens in his final season. Tyree finished his career with the Giants with 54 catches for 650 yards and four touchdowns. He was also voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player in 2005. But he will always be mostly remembered for his play in Super Bowl XLII, catching both a touchdown as well as being on the receiving end of the great play in NFL history.

Giants Waive Two: The Giants announced yesterday that they have waived linebacker Kenny Ingram and defensive end Ayanga Okpokowuruk. Ingram was on the Giants’ practice squad last year and Okpokowuruk was a rookie free agent signed after the 2010 NFL Draft.

Jones Placed on NFL List: As expected, after he cleared waivers after being waived by the team, the Giants placed safety Chad Jones on the Reserve/Non-Football-Injury (NFI) List.

NY Post Q&A With Former Giants’ Linebacker Antonio Pierce: 5 Questions for…Antonio Pierce by Justin Terranova of The New York Post

Star-Ledger Q&A With Wide Receiver Ramses Barden: Giants Summer Questionnaire Series: Wide Receiver Ramses Barden by Michael Fensom of The Star-Ledger

Article on the Giants’ Defense: Giants Looking To Fewell Up ‘D’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Notes and Quotes: The New York Post reported yesterday that HBO asked the Giants to be featured on their show Hard Knocks in 2008. But the Giants quickly turned down the request.

“It never got further than me – although I think it’s a safe bet that the coach and GM agree,” said Giants’ President and CEO John Mara. “I think the way it was positioned was ‘We know you probably won’t be interested, but if you ever change your mind let us know.’ I happen to like the show and I think they do a good job with it. It’s just not for us. We are at training camp to get our team ready for the season – not to be part of a TV show.”

Jul 302010

Kenny Phillips to Start Training Camp on the PUP: Safety Kenny Phillips (knee) will begin training camp on the Physically-Unable-to-Perform (PUP) List.

“He’ll be with the trainers until the trainers are willing to let him begin to practice,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I’m sure when that happens it will be one a day…They’re going to work with him on the side and determine exactly where he is. Part of this is watching after a workout how the player comes back, how long it takes for his recovery, is there any swelling, those are the things they got to determine. They’ve worked with him all spring and they’ve monitored him all summer. Because of the nature and the seriousness of the injury they certainly are not going to rush back out there until they’re 100 percent sure he can go through a two-hour practice…Hopefully within a week or so we’ll have him back. I could be wrong, don’t nail me to just seven days. But I’m hoping by the second week, we will get him back.”

“We just want him to take it slow because we want him to be our starting safety when we line up against Carolina on (September) 12th,” General Manager Jerry Reese said.

Other Injury News: Coughlin also said that DE Osi Umenyiora (hip) and LB Keith Bulluck (knee) will be limited to one practice per day. TE Kevin Boss (ankle) and DT Jay Alford (knee) may also be limited.

“(Umenyiora is) one-a-day, we will manage that,” said Coughlin. “He wants to play, he wanted the other opinion. The doctors talked among themselves and conferred with each other and they felt this can be managed and will be managed and the corrective surgery can be done at another time. So Osi, who wants to play this year, will have the opportunity to play.”

“(Bulluck) has to come along slow, too,” said Coughlin. “On paper he’s one-a-day but we will have to see where that is. He worked out for us, worked out well, didn’t have any swelling. He’s going to continue to get stronger and better and as he goes through this. We’ll do what we have to do to manage that and I think that the combination of all these things is going to give all these young guys lots of reps, too. It will work to our advantage, we’re going to make it work to our advantage.”

Chad Jones Waived; Giants Claim Eagle Off of Waivers: The Giants waived/injured safety Chad Jones yesterday. Jones was seriously injured last month in an auto accident. The Giants said in their press release that if Jones successfully clears waivers, the team will be placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List.

“Obviously the tremendous blow to Chad Jones hurt our team,” said Coughlin. “We all feel helpless in regard to that, we all want to be there for Chad. We all want to see his recovery is complete. We keep him foremost in our minds. He would have been a big factor helping us. We don’t have him.”

“I’m just hopeful that Chad can have a normal life and walk without a limp at this point,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “Anything after that is a plus for me. If he makes it back to the football field, that’s fantastic. But really, my hopes and prayers are that he can have a normal life and walk without a limp and be a normal person. Right now, that’s really what I’m wishing for for him.”

To fill Jones’ roster spot, the Giants claimed defensive end/linebacker Alex Hall off of waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I think Alex Hall will be a very good outside linebacker in a 3-4 front,” Eagles’ Head Coach Andy Reid said when Hall was waived. “We worked him as a linebacker, and also worked him as a defensive end. After the evaluation, we just felt like his best thing would probably be a 3-4, and I think Alex can definitely play in this league and be very successful, he’s just got to get into the right situation.”

David Tyree to Retire as a Giant: According to The Star-Ledger and The Daily News, former Giants’ wide receiver and Super Bowl XLII hero David Tyree has signed a one-day contract with the Giants so he can retire officially as a New York Giant today.

Tyree, who was drafted in the 6th round of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Giants. The Giants waived him last year before the season started. During that time, he caught 54 passes for 650 yards and four touchdowns. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005 as a special teams player.

Article on CEO/President John Mara: New York Giants Co-Owner John Mara Says He Still Has Full Confidence In Coach Tom Coughlin by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on Former Giant DE Michael Strahan: Strahan Chat Sealed Deal For Bulluck by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Quotes: Head Coach Tom Coughlin on LB Keith Bulluck: “We’ve been looking at this young man since he was a free agent, wondering when it would be that he would actually get the green light medically to be able to perform and to play. As soon as that occurred, he was here. We’ve been vigilant in regard to that. We think and believe that this guy is an outstanding football player. He’s 33 years old, he’s had some outstanding experiences, he’s played on some very good teams, he’s had some very shocking experiences as a football player in terms of expectation levels not being achieved. He’s a tough guy. He played in Syracuse, so you know he’s a tough guy. But I think he brings a seriousness to the table. He’s a no-nonsense guy. He is emotional. He does have the ability to communicate. He is a veteran football player. He brings the characteristics that we’re looking for. And everyone would like to discuss where he can play. He can play in the middle. He can play on the outside. He can do a lot of things. We’re excited about him.”

Coughlin on WR Ramses Barden: “I can tell you right now that we have great expectations for Ramses. He’s got a great opportunity, but for our team to be where we want to be, we think he’s got to take the bull by the horns and I think he feels the same way.”

Coughlin on who will return kickoffs and punts: “We have punt return experiments and we have kick return experiments. Danny Ware would be an excellent guy to be our kick returner. It’s just too bad the season opened with the injury a year ago. Here’s a guy just frothing for a chance and hopefully we can get him on the field and get him some playing time and not have any setbacks. I feel he’s a good candidate for kickoff returns. The punt return thing we’re going to continue to work with and of course the No. 1 thing is going to be ball security.”

Coughlin on P Matt Dodge: “He showed us a very strong leg and a guy who was humble and worked hard. I think we can build on that. He went through the spring having his bad days and his good days, and on his good days he was really rocking it. Quite frankly we had two competitive people at that spot and we made the decision based on going forward in camp and based on numbers, etc. We felt this young man could be taught and could be brought along so he will continue to grow and develop during camp. We will have ourselves a guy who can really drive the ball and if we can get the consistency thing going than perhaps we can get him to do some of the things that separate guys at that position at the pro level, which is the ability directionally punt the ball. He came along as a holder as well.”

Jul 292010

New York Giants Training Camp Previews:

Star-Ledger Q&A With HB Brandon Jacobs: Giants Summer Questionnaire Series: Running Back Brandon Jacobs by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on DE Osi Umenyiora: Osi Umenyiora’s Agent Says Hip Specialist Wanted To Operate On Defensive End Immediately by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on LB Keith Bulluck: Bulluck Ready To Be Leader Of ‘D’ Pack For Giants by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on Safety Kenny Phillips: New York Giants Safety Kenny Phillips Eases Way Into Training Camp While Others Doubt His Health by Ralph Vacchiano of The Daily News

Article on the New Stadium: Stadium Sponsor Hard to Find by Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post

Notes and Quotes: Rookie safety Chad Jones, who was seriously injured in a car accident last month, was finally released from the hospital yesterday. Jones has already undergone several surgical procedures and more are anticipated. It is not known if he will ever play football again.

“Chad is in great spirits and excited to be getting out of the hospital,” said Ronnie Barnes, the Giants’ Vice President of Medical Services. “All has gone well thus far for Chad, and he will return in probably six to eight weeks for another surgical procedure.”

General Manager Jerry Reese on DE Osi Umenyiora’s hip issues: “He’s learned how to manage it. We expect him to manage it like he’s always managed it for the last few years. I’m assuming that if he needs to have the surgery and wants to have the surgery that he’ll do it sometime after the season. But our plan is for Osi to be ready to go at training camp. This is something that can be done after the season,” Reese said. “So he should be ready to go Sunday.”

Jul 272010
Key Questions Heading into the 2010 New York Giants Training Camp

The New York Giants are at a crossroads. 2009 was supposed to be a continuation of nice little run that resulted in four straight seasons with playoff appearances, an NFL Championship in 2007, and the top-seated NFC playoff team in 2008. But after an impressive 5-0 start in 2009, the roof caved in as the Giants finished the next 11 games 3-8. And in actuality, the collapse even felt worse than that.

Despite the fact that the Giants swept Dallas in 2009, most predict the Cowboys will own the division in 2010. Some of these people think the Giants can finish as high as second in the division; others believe New York will have to fight to keep out of the division basement.

What we know for sure is that there are a lot more questions heading into 2010 than there were heading into 2009.

Can the Giants Stay Relatively Healthy? The early returns appear to be no. Training camp has not even started and the Giants have already been hit pretty hard. Domenik Hixon, a critical contributor on special teams, is gone for the season. Kevin Boothe, a versatile back-up lineman who could play all five offensive line spots and allowed the Giants to be comfortable carrying one less lineman on game day, will miss all of camp and the preseason. Chad Jones, the third-round pick who would have been a factor on special teams and possibly a future starter at safety, may have had his career end before it started. And this week we learned that Osi Umenyiora will have to play through a hip issue that has already caused him to miss non-contact practice time. The Giants say they will “manage” it, but they said the same thing about Kenny Phillips last year.

There is a direct correlation between team performance and a team’s overall injury situation in the NFL. A team that stays relatively healthy – especially among its core players – will likely be more successful than teams that do not. The Giants ran out of steam in 2008 when injuries started to pile up. Injuries were a huge factor in 2009. How will 2010 turn out? The defensive line has been injury prone the last couple of seasons. And the secondary, offensive line, and running back corp was the same way in 2009.

Does Coach Coughlin Still Command Respect? Three years removed from an NFL title, this sounds like an insane question. And it would be had the Giants not performed like they did in the final two games of the season. I think many fans have put out of their mind just how embarrassingly dreadful the last two games of the season were. The Giants were out-scored 85-16 and had not the Panthers and Vikings called off the dogs, both teams would have easily put more than 50 points up against the Giants. And the offense collapsed too. The team appeared to have lost its confidence and fight – and to many – it appeared that the effort was not there. “Quit” is a dangerous word but when a solid NFL team cannot even compete on the playing field, that word is sure to come up. Coach Coughlin certainly seemed to be at a loss. And the Giants followed up as bad a defeat in their entire history – the loss to Carolina in the final Giants’ game at Giants Stadium – with an equally atrocious effort against the Vikings. That was a damning indictment on Coughlin. He needs to regain control of this team and instill confidence, pride, and yes, fear, in it again. Fear of non-performance.

Was Perry Fewell the Right Hire? Tom Coughlin is batting 1-for-3 in terms of defensive coordinator hires. He won a Championship with Steve Spagnuolo but was forced to fire Tim Lewis and Bill Sheridan. Was Fewell the right hire? Only time will tell. Fewell had mixed success in Buffalo – his team was strong against the pass but not against the run.

Do the Giants Have a Viable Punter? C’mon, a punting question is the fourth most important question surrounding this team? I think it is. Football is a game of field position. Field position can help or hurt your offense and defense. 10 yards does not sound like a lot, but it is. It could mean the difference between a touchdown and a field goal, or a field goal and no points. A punter is critical. And right now, with Jeff Feagles gone and the restraints of an 80-man roster limit in training camp, the Giants’ punting game is in the hands of untested, inconsistent, green-as-grass Matt Dodge. Will the Giants have to pick up a veteran at the end of the preseason? Will there be a decent veteran available if that is the case?

Can the Giants Become One of the Better Running Teams in Football Again? Two years ago, the Giants had the #1 rushing attack in the NFL. Everyone was talking about the “Earth, Wind, and Fire” backfield and “the best offensive line in football.” A year later, many folks say the Giants’ running backs are an ordinary bunch who can’t stay healthy and that the once-vaunted offensive line is over-the-hill. In 2009, the Giants became less smash-mouth and more of a finesse, passing team. Obviously the Giants need to regain their physical offensive aspect. Much depends on the health and productivity of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. But the offensive line, fullback, and tight ends need to return to form and block better. They also need to stay healthy. Injuries were an issue with the offensive line and fullback last year too.

Will the Loser of the Umenyiora-Kiwanuka Competition Rock the Boat? Perhaps the most intense New York Giants training camp battle will be for the starting weakside end position. Umenyiora has done and said all the right things this offseason, but it is clear that he will be one upset camper if he is not designated the starter. Mathias Kiwanuka has publicly said he expects to start and will be very disappointed if he does not. Whoever loses this competition, will he be the good soldier and not rock the boat both behind the scenes and in public? An unhappy Umenyiora caused morale issues last season.

Will the Giants Be Able to Field a Decent Linebacking Corps? The Giants carried nine linebackers on their roster last year. NINE! And they all pretty much sucked. Michael Boley at least had a viable reason (injury) but the others did not. Two starters have been let go – Antonio Pierce and Danny Clark. And there have been three additions – Keith Bulluck, Phillip Dillard, and Adrian Tracy. The Giants hope and expect Boley to man the weakside spot. And they are praying Clint Sintim – who was a huge disappointment in 2009 – will do the same at the strongside spot. Unless he’s done physically, the aging Bulluck, who is also recovering from a December ACL injury, will likely man the middle. Can Boley, Bulluck, and Sintim get the job done?

Can Kenny Phillips Return and Play Like He Did Against Dallas? It’s funny that so much has been made of Kenny Phillips since the Giants lost him near the start of the 2009 NFL season. Why? Because, to be honest, Phillips has not made much of an impact in the first two years of his NFL career. He has only started five games in two years. And in the 18 games that he has played in, he has only really stood out in two. But one of those was the last game he played – the game against Dallas – and he was stellar in that contest. Much of the faith that has been placed on Phillips appears to be based on that game and his potential. He is a very good athlete who can cause problems for passing games if he is healthy – especially if he is combined with the equally athletic Antrel Rolle. If Phillips can play at a high level, the Giants will have turned an area of weakness to a real strength.

Can the Giants Find Productive Returners? The loss of Domenik Hixon was huge as he was a threat to score as a kickoff and punt returner. That’s a rare commodity. Now the Giants must find someone who can not only gain field position, but also safely secure the ball. Another option was lost when Chad Jones was lost for the season. The Giants may be forced to use someone like Mario Manningham, Ahmad Bradshaw, and/or Aaron Ross now. Pray it’s not Sinorice Moss.

Can the Giants Finish 2010 on the Upswing? Only once in Tom Coughlin’s tenure as head coach with the Giants have the Giants finished out a season on a strong note – and that was in 2007.  Strong starts were largely wasted or almost wasted down the stretch in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2009. Coughlin is on the wrong side of a trend. Other than 2007, he’s 0-3 in playoff games.

So there you have a list of my personal key questions. I am not overly worried if the team can stay healthy. But due to recent historical experience, I do worry about the health situation. Let’s just pray the Giants have already hit their injury quota.

Jul 272010

Hip Surgery Recommended for Umenyiora: Hip Surgery Recommended For Giants DE Osi Umenyiora But He Will Pass For Now by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Keith Bulluck on The NFL Network: The video of yesterday’s interview with linebacker Keith Bulluck on The NFL Network is available at NFL.com.

Article on Linebacker Keith Bulluck: Bulluck Relishes Giant Challenge by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on Defensive End Justin Tuck: Tuck: Best Is Yet To Come For Big Blue by Steve Serby of The New York Post

Article on the Giants’ Offensive Line: Giants Line May Be Old But They Are Good by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Article on Former Giants’ Wide Receiver Ike Hilliard: Ike Hilliard, Former New York Giants Wide Receiver, Catches On As UFL Coach by Ebenezer Samuel of The Daily News

Jul 252010

New York Giants  Sign Linebacker Keith Bulluck: The Giants have signed unrestricted free agent linebacker Keith Bulluck (Tennessee Titans). The contract is reportedly a 1-year deal that could be worth up to $2.5 million.

Bulluck tore the ACL in his left knee in December 2009. Bulluck, who turned 33 years old in April, is clearly nearing the end of a long career. But in his prime, he was widely regarded as one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

“My knee is 90% and it’s getting better,” Bulluck said. “I still have work to do. I’ve been working out since Jan. 2, and it continues to get better. I’ve been running and doing football drills since the beginning of May. But I haven’t been in a camp doing 7-on-7s.”

ESPN.com is reporting that Bulluck says he has been offered the team’s starting middle linebacker position.

Bulluck passed a physical with the Giants and worked out for the team on Monday. Bulluck was born in Suffern, New York and played his collegiate ball at Syracuse. After visiting with the Giants, Bulluck also met with the Arizona Cardinals.

“I’m a New York dude – no way I can play anyplace else,’’ said Bulluck. “New York’s about toughness…the NFC East. That’s where I belong.”

“He was pretty geeked up about both places,” said Bulluck’s agent. “Next day he calls me up and he says, ‘I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life. I’m from New York. It’s not even close.’ It was his dream to play for the Giants. He grew up in New City. Like all kids his age, L.T. was what it is about.”

“The game changes now that I’m in New York,’’ Bulluck said. “The game totally changes. I think that the energy that the city brings and the excitement and the fans that all the New York sports teams have will definitely help me out a lot. Just as far as stoking the fire that’s still burning. I’d love to help bring another championship to New York.”

“But I can’t just go back there and not be productive,” said Bulluck. “I’ve still got work to do, and I’m still working towards everything that I need to do for myself individually. I mean, it would’ve been great to end my career in Tennessee because that’s where I started. But it’s would be great to end my career in New York because that’s where it really all started.’’

Star-Ledger Player Q&As: The transcripts of Star-Ledger Q&As with the following players are available at NJ.com:

Article on General Manager Jerry Reese and the 2010 Giants: Reese Believes Big Blue Will Race Back To The Top by Steve Serby of The New York Post

New York Giants Training Camp Preview: Spotlight On Fewell, Osi At Giants Camp by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on Safety Antrel Rolle: Giants Hope DB Is Ready To Rolle by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on Former Giants Safety C.C. Brown: Former Giant Brown Plays ‘Press’ Defense by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jul 212010

BBI Online Live is an internet radio show dedicated exclusively to coverage of the New York Giants. The show is co-hosted by Eric Kennedy of BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) and John McDevitt of Side Kick Productions. This week’s was New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith. Eric and John will talk about all things New York Giants at the team prepares to report to summer training camp.

Jul 182010

Domenik Hixon Clears Waivers and Placed on Injured Reserve: NFL.com is reporting that WR Domenik Hixon, who the Giants waived/injured on Thursday, has cleared waivers. ESPN.com is reporting that not only did Hixon clear waivers, but he was placed on Injured Reserve.

Update on Safety Chad Jones: Details Surrounding Chad Jones Accident Remain Murky by Robert Stewart of The Times-Picayune

Star-Ledger Q&A With S Antrel Rolle: Giants Summer Questionnaire Series: Safety Antrel Rolle by Michael Fensom of The Star-Ledger

Article on Former Giants’ Linebacker Brian Kelley: Former Giants Linebacker Brian Kelley Heading Into College Football Hall of Fame by Mike Mazzeo of The Star-Ledger

Jul 162010

New York Giants Waive Domenik Hixon; Sign Another Wide Receiver: The Giants have waived/injured WR Domenik Hixon, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury to his right knee last month at mini-camp.

If Hixon passes through waivers unclaimed, the Giants will likely place him on Injured Reserve. Or the team could attempt to reach an injury settlement with Hixon.

To fill Hixon’s roster spot, the Giants signed unrestricted free agent WR Adam Jennings.

Star-Ledger Player Q&As: The transcripts of Star-Ledger Q&As with the following players are available at NJ.com:

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Strahan Says Tuck Ready To Fill ‘D’ Void by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Jul 122010

Bob Sheppard Passes Away: Bob Sheppard, who was the stadium announcer for the New York Giants from 1956 to 2006, passed away yesterday. Sheppard was 99 years old.

“Bob Sheppard was the most distinguished and dignified voice in all of professional sports,” said Giants’ President and CEO John Mara. “We are very proud of the fact that he was the voice of the Giants for so many years. Bob was a true gentleman and the consummate professional. There will never be another one like him.”