Aug 302007
 

Giants Fall to Patriots 27-20, Finish Preseason 1-3 – Game Notes: Back-up LT Guy Whimper suffered an ankle injury against the Patriots. No word on how serious the injury is yet.

LB Reggie Torbor, who was expected to start at weakside linebacker for the injured Kawika Mitchell, did not play as he strained his calf muscle in pre-game warm ups.

Also not playing were WR Plaxico Burress (back), WR David Tyree (wrist), FB Robert Douglas (knee), OC Grey Ruegamer (ankle), DE Adrian Awasom (hip), LB Kawika Mitchell (abductor), LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee), S Will Demps (elbow), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring), CB E.J. Underwood (jaw), and CB Gerrick McPhearson (ankle).

Final Cut-Down Day on Saturday: Teams must reduce their rosters from 75 to 53 on Saturday.

Notes: Those players awarded for their performance on the field in 2006 at the Giants’ Annual Kickoff Luncheon were:

Tiki Barber: Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player
Fred Robbins: Defensive Player of the Year
Reggie Torbor: Special Teams Player of the Year
Barry Cofield: Rookie of the Year

Aug 292007
 

Michael Strahan Decision Coming Soon? Maybe Not; Has Book Coming Out: According to the Giants, DE Michael Strahan called General Manager Jerry Reese on Monday night and Tuesday morning and told him that a decision on whether he will be returning to the Giants or not will be forthcoming shortly. The New York Post is reporting that this is the first contact between the Giants and Strahan in more than two weeks.

“Michael Strahan called him last night and again (Tuesday) morning,” read a team e-mail sent to reporters . “Both conversations were constructive and positive. This morning’s conversation ended with Strahan telling Jerry that he expects to arrive at a decision about whether or not to continue his playing career within the next day or two.”

However, The Daily News Giants’ blog is reporting that a source familiar with Strahan’s thinking say that Strahan has not indicated that he is close to making up his mind. A source suggests that the “imminent decision” announcement was a ploy on the behalf of the Giants to get Strahan to make a decision soon. The Star-Ledger is reporting that one source told it that Strahan was not happy with the Giants releasing the time frame and this latest development may sway him more towards retirement as he feels “disrespected”.

Meanwhile, The Bergen Record is reporting, that like Tiki Barber, Strahan as a book coming out soon. That makes one wonder if all of this drama is intended to increase public interest in the book.

Editor’s Note: As a point of interest, BigBlueInteractive.com will not be promoting/selling either Strahan’s or Barber’s books in our BBI Storefront. I am not interested in helping two people who are hurting my favorite team. It may only amount to a drop in the bucket, but I’m tired (and I think most Giants’ fans are tired) of their shenanigans. I suggest that Giant fans don’t buy the books.

Giants Place LS Ryan Kuehl on Injured Reserve: The Giants placed long snapper Ryan Kuehl on Injured Reserve yesterday. His season is over. Kuehl suffered a calf injury on July 31 though some press reports say he actually partially tore his Achilles.

Kuehl is the eighth Giant to be placed on Injured Reserve, joining FB Jim Finn, WR Michael Jennings, S Michael Stone, TE Darcy Johnson, DT Marcus Bell, DE Charrod Taylor, and DE Dek Bake.

August 28, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report: WR Plaxico Burress (back) did not practice yesterday and is listed as “day-to-day”. The New York Post is reporting that tests on Burress’ back revealed no structural damage, but he apparently is still suffering from back spasms. “They kept him inside, which they usually do when a guy has got a back, so he doesn’t have to stand around on the field,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “They were working with him during the start of the practice, then they iced him down and did his exercises with him…I am going to say he is (out) for now (against the Patriots), but who knows?”

Those who did not practice yesterday and will not play against the Patriots include WR David Tyree (wrist), FB Robert Douglas (knee), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), CB E.J. Underwood (jaw), S Will Demps (elbow), and LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee).

Those who did not practice and are listed as “day-to-day” include LB Kawika Mitchell (abductor), CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring), CB Gerrick McPhearson (ankle), S Michael Johnson (hamstring), DE Adrian Awasom (hip), and OC Grey Ruegamer (ankle).

Regarding Tyree, who had surgery on his fractured left wrist, Coughlin said, “He feels good. He is in good spirits. I talked with him this morning. Dave is an optimist and he thinks he will be back sooner than anybody projects, so we will see.”

Mitchell says he is feeling better and plans on returning to practice on Monday or Tuesday in preparation for the season-opener against the Cowboys.

DT Manny Wright left practice early due to dehydration.

Article on HB/FB Reuben Droughns: Full-Time for Droughns by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Aug 282007
 
Preliminary Look at the New York Giants 2008 NFL Draft Options

by Colin Lindsay, Editor, Great Blue North Draft Report

Are you ready for some football??? While the NFL teams wrap up their pre-season schedule and get done to the 53-man roster limit this weekend, it’s the opening week for the college football season. And while much is going to change between now and April 26th, the rule here at the Great Blue North is that it is never, ever too early to start thinking about the next draft! As such, the following is a quick look at what are likely going to be the Giants’ main areas of need heading into the 2008 draft, as well as who are some of the top college prospects the team is likely going to be watching this fall so interested fans can scout along.

In fact, the 2008 draft class looks like it could be a very good one, particularly if many of this year’s really outstanding crop of juniors opt to turn to pro this January. And in an entirely shameless plug, we want to remind folks that in addition to the regular internet GBN Report, which for the record is now in its 10th year of operation, we also publish a weekly GBN Giants Draft Report, with ongoing assessments of the Giants’ draft needs and potential options, as well as insightful and pithy comments on the state of the team. Here’s how to order for anyone who’s interested. And for those not quite sure, just drop us a line at the GBN and we’ll send along a preview issue or two.

First things first. Despite the loss of long-time stalwarts Tiki Barber and Luke Petitgout, we have been on record pretty much throughout the off-season as being a whole lot more optimistic about the Giants prospects this coming season than most football observers. Admittedly, we are a tad biased, however, based on the theory of reasonable expectations, we would be very disappointed if the Giants didn’t win at least 10 games this fall and make something of a run in the playoffs, although they may still be a year away from being legitimate Super Bowl contenders. Of course, the wheels can always come off even the best laid football plans what with injuries and funny bounces, however, everything else being equal, we fully expect the Giants’ passing offense to be significantly improved with the return of Amani Toomer and the hopeful emergence of young receivers Steve Smith, Anthony Mix and Sinorice Moss as decent complimentary options. It also isn’t going to hurt if QB Eli Manning continues to play as well as he has in the pre-season, although we’ll reserve judgment as he obviously still has to prove he can be consistent over the long haul.

Meanwhile, it is simply inconceivable, barring a spate of injuries, that the quartet of Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Strahan, assuming he does ultimately return, don’t combine for more than 13 sacks this fall as they did in 2006. Indeed, it’s probably not unreasonable to expect the four to get close to 30 sacks this season which in turn would have the effect of making the rest of the defense that much better.

While we are pumped for the upcoming season, as we draft gurus are want to do, we’re already peeking ahead to the 2008 draft with an eye to some of the areas the Giants might be inclined to address this coming off-season. And what has been a little distressing is that the ‘wish list’ we have started to put together this summer has more areas that the team would like to address than there are going to be premium picks. Indeed, there could be as many as a half dozen primary positions that could stand some upgrading this coming spring, although it is always important keep in mind that much will change over the course of the coming months that could alter the situation. For example, the Giants do have some decent young types at a lot of these areas and the development of these players would obviously diminish the need. At the same time, it is also possible that some of the Giants’ older veterans like Toomer and Strahan just keep on playing for the next several years.

Left Tackle: The Giants pretty much have their core players on offense in place (and for the most part signed well into the future). The one exception, of course, is the LT slot vacated when Luke Petitgout and his bad back were summarily released. In a perfect world the Giants probably would have liked to address the situation this past off-season, but there really weren’t many options either in free agency or the draft. As such, they will live and die with converted OG David Diehl manning the position in 2007, but figure that a true shut-down LT will be the #1 priority next off-season.

Help is on the way. It certainly appears that the 2008 draft will be relatively strong at OT, however, our early grades suggest that it may not be quite as deep as originally thought. Michigan’s Jake Long, though, appears to be a lock to be a top 5 pick this year, however, that will also almost assuredly put his well out of reach the Giants who figure to draft somewhere between 15 and 25 this year. Southern Cal’s Sam Baker is also a very good one and could very be in range for the Giants this year, however, at just a tad over 305 pounds, he’s not necessarily the road-grader type that tends to be the Giants’ prototype; plus scouts would like to see more of a mean streak from Baker. The LT field could get richer in a hurry, though, if any of several top juniors like Alex Boone of Ohio State, Ryan Clady of Boise State and Ole Miss’ Michael Oher opt to leave school this winter and it’s likely no team would be happier if they all declared than the Giants.

Meanwhile, there should be plenty of depth in this year’s OT class starting with including Gosder Cherilus of Boston College, Tony Hills of Texas, John Greco of Toledo and Clemson’s Barry Richardson, but there also questions. The 320-pound Cherilus, for example, is a true road-grader who would look good in blue, however, his immediate draft prospects have been clouded by an assault charge stemming from a bar fight which left another man with a broken neck. Meanwhile, the 6-7, 325-pound Richardson looks all the part of a top 10 prospect, but doesn’t always play that way, while Hills isn’t very big and Greco may be better suited to RT. There’s a further level of tackles including several decent developmental LT prospects including Duane Brown of Virginia Tech, one of those athletic converted TEs, Akim Millington of Illinois, a one-time top Oklahoma recruit who transferred because of family reasons, Chris Williams of Vanderbilt and Heath Benedict of Newberry, an athletic 320-pound former Tennessee recruit that could also intrigue the Giants. The rule of the thumb in the NFL, though, is that elite LTs usually come in the opening round so the Giants could be holding their collective breaths this January in anticipation of some of those top underclassmen declaring.

Free Safety: Perhaps the biggest surprise in Albany this summer came early on when James Butler supplanted Will Demps in the first unit secondary. While Butler nominally takes over at SS, the fact is that the Giants incumbent safeties – Butler, Gibril Wilson, and Will Demps – are all similar players in that they’re primary strength is defending the run. As such, the team really needs a ball-hawking FS with range. The fact that Wilson is scheduled to be the team’s only unrestricted free agent this coming off-season and may be tough to resign could also complicate the situation.

Help is on the way. Yeah right! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that the 2008 draft will be particularly strong at safety; indeed, it could ultimately be a downright wasteland. It is possible that, for example, other than perhaps Miami draft eligible sophomore Kenny Phillips, there won’t be any safeties at all worthy of a first round pick this year. And Phillips likely will be long gone before the Giants make their opening round pick. Meanwhile, the few safeties likely to be worth a mid-second round pick, like Tom Zbikowski of Notre Dame, Chris Horton of UCLA and possibly Josh Barrett of Arizona State, are more SS-types. What the Giants would have to hope for is that they could hit on a steal like underrated Quentin Demps of UTEP either late on the first day or early on the second.

Cornerback: Despite the fact that the Giants have invested their first or second pick on the position in each of the past couple of drafts, it’s not hard to see the team being in the market for more speed on the corner this coming April. Veterans Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters, for example, aren’t getting any younger, or faster, while Corey Webster and Aaron Ross, the team’s top picks the past couple of years, are still very much unproven. And Webster, while he has been one of the team’s most improved players this summer still isn’t very fast at all by current NFL standards for the position. And let’s be honest that while Kevin Dockery and E.J. Underwood have been nice undrafted free agent finds, they are what they are and that’s former street free agents.

Help is on the way. Unfortunately, to some degree, there may be almost as many questions at CB as at safety in the 2008 draft, although unquestionably there is more depth at the position especially in the mid-to-late first day area where the Giants would be expected to be in the market. There are, for example, only a couple of CBs considered to be solid first rounders in Ohio State junior Malcolm Jenkins, a likely top 10 prospect, and Arizona senior CB Antoine Cason, who the Giants have reportedly already been checking out. There are questions, though, about Cason’s pure foot speed, although he did run track for Arizona this spring. Meanwhile, several other junior CBs, including Jake Ikegwounu of Wisconsin, Justin King of Penn State, Brandon Flowers of Virginia Tech and Aqib Talib of Kansas, have the physical skills to move into the first round, but all still have something to prove. There are also some intriguing later first-day senior corner prospects including Dwight Lowery of San Jose State, Chevis Jackson of LSU, USC’s Terrell Thomas, Trey Brown of UCLA and Boston College’s DeJuan Tribble (although he was also involved in the same incident as Cherilus). The better news for the Giants is that there are a quite a number of second day type CBs with real speed including Mike Jenkins of South Florida, Dominique Rodgers of Tennessee State, and Marcus Walker of Oklahoma with the potential to make decent nickel corners.

Linebacker: The Giants will unquestionably be quicker at LB this fall, although truth be told they probably could put uniforms on a couple of cadavers and put them out at OLB and be faster at the position than last season. Carlos Emmons and Brandon Short, the nominal starters last fall, in particular, were both gamers, but injuries had robbed both of whatever limited quickness they had ever had. And with Mathias Kiwanuka, a converted DE, and Kawika Mitchell, normally a MLB, manning the outside spots, the Giants still have one of, if not the slowest LB corps in the NFL. Meanwhile, MLB Antonio Pierce is still a solid run-stuffer, but with the Giants expected to blitz a lot this season, look for other teams to try and exploit him when he’s forced to cover a TE or RB coming across the middle in man-to-man coverage situations. While it may not be a prime need, figure the Giants would still like to add some speed at both inside and outside LB slots.

Help is on the way. Hey, if you liked Penn State’s Paul Posluszny this past draft year, you are really going to like his former teammate Dan Connor this year. Connor, who can play both inside and outside, isn’t quite as big as Posluszny, but is a better all-around athlete. Connor, though, would probably be a reach for the Giants in the opening round, but won’t last to their pick in the second. The good news, though, is that it’s actually a pretty good year at LB, especially in the middle. Rugged Jasper Brinkley, a 262-pounder with 4.65 speed, for example, could ultimately be the first LB off the board this coming April, while juniors James Laurinaitis of Ohio State and USC’s Rey Maualaga along with Vince Hall of Virginia Tech are second round prospects, although none of the latter group is real fast. There is something of a drop-off to the next level of MLBs, although players like Jonathan Goff of Vanderbilt and Ben Moffitt of South Florida are mid-round prospects with intriguing size/speed ratios. On the other hand, if there’s a knock on this year’s OLB corps, it’s that there isn’t a lot of bulk. Players like Keith Rivers of USC, Xavier Adibi of Virginia Tech, Ali Highsmith of LSU and Wesley Woodyard of Kentucky all have the speed and quickness to rate as at least late first rounders, however, none is much more than 225 pounds. Indeed, the Giants could be just as tempted by the second tier of OLBs including Ohio State junior Marcus Freeman, Louisville’s Malik Jackson, Ezra Butler of Nevada, Michigan’s Shawn Crable, and Steve Octavien of Nebraska each of whom is bigger but can also really run, although they need to be a little more productive on the field to up their ultimate draft grades.

Defensive Line: The Giants appear to have plenty of big bodies at DT and should have a decent rotation at the position this fall, however, the team hasn’t had a true dominating interior defensive lineman who could tie up blockers since Keith Hamilton hung them up. And even if Michael Strahan returns this week, there are long-term concerns at DE as Strahan is aging, while Mathias Kiwanuka is playing LB and Justin Tuck, who just maybe has been the Giants’ best player on ‘D’ this summer, is injury prone.

Help is on the way. In fact, DE could very well be the strength at the 2008 draft with as many as 8-10 legitimate first round prospects at the position including tweener types such as Quentin Groves of Auburn, Tommy Blake of TCU, along with juniors Derrick Harvey of Florida and Vernon Gholston of Ohio State. What would have to intrigue the Giants more though would be a number of more full-sized guys like juniors Calais Campbell (6-7, 282) of Miami and 6-5, 285-pound Tyson Jackson of LSU, as well as USC’s Lawrence Jackson (6-4, 270) and 6-5, 284-pound Chris Long of Virginia. In addition, there is excellent depth at the position. Meanwhile, it shouldn’t be a bad year at DT where LSU’s Glenn Dorsey is considered a solid top 10 prospect, while USC’s Sedric Ellis, Frak Okam of Texas, Red Bryant of Texas A&M, Andre Fluellen of Florida State and big B.J. Raji of Boston College all have the potential to be solid late first rounders, however, all also have something to prove as none is coming off a particular dominating season last fall. NFL teams looking to add a stud DT this coming April won’t want to dally as there is something of a gap to the next level of DTs in the 2008 draft class.

Wide Receiver: Rookie second rounder Steve Smith and second-year vet Sinorice Moss have both shown flashes this summer, as has former undrafted rookie free agent Anthony Mix, but with Amani Toomer running out of football years, the Giants will probably be in the market for a big receiver to replace the big former 1996 second rounder sooner rather than later.

Help is on the way. The good news for the Giants is that there likely will be no shortage of big WRs available at the 2008 draft including receivers like Adarius Bowman of Oklahoma State, Limas Sweed of Texas, Louisville junior Mario Urrutia, Oklahoma junior Malcolm Kelly, Marcus Monk of Arkansas, Indiana junior James Hardy, Oregon State junior Jaison Williams and Todd Bythe of Iowa State, each of whom is over 6-4, 220 pounds and collectively would make up a pretty good basketball team. Indeed, Bowman and Hardy both played with their respective college basketball programs. The better news for the Giants might be that none of these guys has yet to really establish themselves as a true elite receiver and most could still be available in the second round. Indeed, in many ways the top receivers in the 2008 draft class are the more smurfish players like California junior DeSean Jackson, arguably the most explosive player in all college football, juniors Mario Manningham of Michigan, Jarrett Dillard of Rice and Davone Bess of Hawaii, along with seniors Dorien Bryant of Purdue and Harry Douglas of Louisville. That group barely averages 5-10, 180 pounds per man, but they also averaged over 70 receptions per player last fall.

Take a deep breath. As we said it’s a long list, however, before anyone goes all apoplectic thinking a team with that many needs has to be in huge trouble, there is a big difference between what would normally be described as a real need or hole to fill and an area that could use an upgrade. As noted above, the Giants already have decent, functional veteran starters at just about every one of those spots, but each one is also an area where the team will still be looking for some kind of talent improvement.

In the meantime, here’s to a great season and we’ll see you April 26th!!

Aug 282007
 

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 30, 2007: The last preseason game is usually mainly focused on determining what the final roster will look like. The starters only play at most a quarter, and often not even that much. And honestly, given the rate that Giants are falling to injury again, the sooner the starters get out of the game, the happier I will be.

The game is most important to those players on the bubble or vying for the primary back-up spots. On Saturday, teams must cut their rosters from 75 to 53. That is a huge cut – 22 players – or almost 30 percent of the roster will be waived or placed on IR. More may be waived as the Giants pick up a player or two from other teams.

The most important issue that faces this team??? It’s not the status of Michael Strahan. It’s the status of the place-kicking situation. As my wife always says, “It always comes down to the kicker.”

Quarterback: Eli Manning has been sharp this preseason. Give him a few reps and get him out of the game. The biggest problem here is that he has not worked much at all with his most important wide receiver – Plaxico Burrress. That could hurt, especially early in the regular season.

Jared Lorenzen should see the bulk of the quarterback snaps. It will be interesting to see what he does with the extended playing time. Both Anthony Wright and Tim Hasselbeck are on the hot seat; both could be waived.

Running Backs: The injury to Robert Douglas confuses matters. The Giants are going to experiment with Reuben Droughns at fullback, but he hasn’t worked much at the position in years, and isn’t particularly fond of the move. The good news – if the Giants are forced to go in that direction – is that having Droughns at fullback would provide the Giants with a viable running and pass-receiving threat at fullback. The bad news is that Droughns is most likely a sub-par blocker. My guess is the Giants are scanning the waiver wire, but any late addition will be totally new to the Giants’ offensive schemes and terminology. It’s not a good situation.

Brandon Jacobs, Droughns, and Ahmad Bradshaw are locks to make the team. I would think Derrick Ward has made it too. I thought Ryan Grant would be on the outside looking in, but Tom Coughlin mentioned that Grant would be playing gunner in the preseason game with David Tyree out. That’s a good sign for Grant. Are the Giants going to carry five halfbacks?

Tight Ends: Another factor in determining the final roster is the surprising emergence of TE Michael Matthews. When Matthews was signed, it was really thought of a camp fodder-type signing since Matthews was not a full-time starter at Georgia Tech with only nine career receptions. But not only does Matthews look the part as a blocker, but he has flashed as a receiver. Matthews played some fullback at Georgia Tech and Coughlin has said he can serve in that role with the Giants as well.

Through three games, it has been kind of a disappointing preseason for Kevin Boss. But he was viewed as somewhat of a project coming out of college given his small school background. Matthews appears to be ahead of him right now.

Wide Receivers: Anthony Mix has really come out of nowhere. While his combination of size and athleticism were intriguing and why the Giants kept him on the Practice Squad last year, he really did not do much last preseason or for much of camp this year. But he has really elevated his game in the preseason and is the Giants’ leading receiver. That stat could be misleading, but it isn’t in this case as Mix is getting significant time with the starters and making clutch receptions. Mix will likely make the team, but will he be active on game day?

That may depend on Sinorice Moss, who was far too quiet last week against the Jets. Even with a tender ankle, Moss flashed his great speed on an end-around, but he has to make more big plays in the passing game. And he has to stay healthy. He will definitely make the team and still has a chance to see more playing time than any other back-up, but Steve Smith looks poised to surpass him on the depth chart, if he hasn’t already.

Regardless, the Giants have some interesting back-ups now in Smith, Moss, and Mix.

Offensive Line: Attention national media…attention local media…the starting offensive line is a STRENGTH of this team. David Diehl is playing even better than hoped and the rest of the line is rock solid.

The question marks still surround depth. Hopefully, Grey Ruegamer (ankle) will be back soon. Do the Giants keep both Zach Piller and Matt Lentz or waive one? Which one? Lentz has helped his cause by playing center this preseason.

Adam Koets has had a rough preseason. I think he might be headed for the Practice Squad. Guy Whimper has played decently in the preseason. The Giants may keep an eye out for a veteran tackle if they think they have room for another tackle to go along with Whimper.

Defensive Line: I was wrong about Strahan. I thought he would be in by now. I still don’t buy his retirement talk in terms of losing his love of the game. I am still 100 percent convinced that it has to do with money and/or perceived lack of respect (which in Michael’s mind is probably the same thing). I think the Giants are kind of caught between a rock and a hard place. I wouldn’t release him because that is what he wants. But at the same time, he could decide at any moment that “Hey, I’m back.” Unlike many, I still think Strahan can play at a high level and take over a game, but the baggage that he brings with him now as a possible disruption to Reese, Coughlin, and the team may simply not be worth it.

But back to the players that are here (and that matter). Justin Tuck’s breakout game last week was encouraging. Lost in his play was the strong game by Osi Umenyiora, who I think is set to have a monster season if he stays healthy. What worries me is the depth situation at defensive end. Adrian Awasom is OK, but there isn’t much else there. William Joseph will likely survive by default unless Strahan appears soon. I have not been impressed at all with Joseph once again. He stinks. If Awasom can’t go again this week, expect the second-team defense to really struggle with Tommy Davis and Marquies Gunn at defensive end (these guys are really third/fourth team type ends). If Strahan doesn’t return this season, and something happens to Tuck or Umenyiora, the Giants will have to move Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end. Of course, Simeon Rice is still out there. He’s not an ideal fit, but he may be the best option.

Inside, the top three tackles are obviously Fred Robbins (who played very well last week), Barry Cofield (who flashed), and DT Jay Alford (who still has a lot to learn). That’s another reason why Joseph most likely survives. With Marcus Bell (knee/Injured Reserve) out of the picture and Jonas Seawright missing time with a concussion, the door has been opened for Manny Wright. But Wright looks like he is still really out of shape. He has one of the ugliest football bodies I’ve seen in some time. That said, for a big man, you see the flashes of quickness and strength. If he makes it, he will never be active on game day unless there is an injury, but he may be worth the investment.

Linebackers: Mathias Kiwanuka is progressing, but I think he is still going to have problems with backs in pass coverage. Let’s hope Kawika Mitchell’s injury doesn’t hamper him. He really flashed last week.

The guy who really has had a nice preseason is Reggie Torbor. He’s a bit miscast as a weakside linebacker, but he will likely start for Mitchell against New England. While I like them, I was not impressed with the play of Chase Blackburn and Zak DeOssie against the Jets. Both got hung up on blocks far too easily against the first-team offensive line.

Defensive Backs: To me, one of the pleasant surprises of the preseason has been the play of Corey Webster, despite the fact that he has been limited with his hip injury from last year. On the other hand, Kevin Dockery has struggled. Steve Spagnuolo’s system may not be a good fit for him. With Sam Madison (hamstring), E.J. Underwood (jaw), Dockery (hamstring), and Gerrick McPhearson (ankle) ailing, depth is a big issue in this game. We may see a ton of Darren Barnett and Aaron Ross. I have no idea what the Giants will do when New England goes to multiple WR sets after the starters leave. The Giants may not have enough corners to cover them. Don’t be surprised to see some really cheap (and misleading) touchdowns.

At safety, Michael Johnson also has a hamstring issue and may not play. That’s unfortunate because he needs the work. He has flashed. We’ll see a ton of J.R. Reed and Craig Dahl in this game.

In other words, for much of the game, our secondary may be Reed, Dahl, Barnett, and Ross. Ouch.

Special Teams: It looks like R.W. McQuarters will be the Giants punt returner and Derrick Ward and/or Ahmad Bradshaw the kickoff returner this season.

The biggest issue this team faces – in my mind – is the place-kicking situation. It could mean the difference between being 12-4 and 8-8. Honestly.

Aug 282007
 

August 27, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report: The injury news – once again – keeps getting worse for the Giants. It was revealed yesterday that WR David Tyree fractured his left wrist in the game against the Jets and was scheduled to undergo surgery last night. Tyree will likely be sidelined 4-6 weeks.

Even more disheartening is that it was revealed yesterday that WR Plaxico Burress – who has barely practiced at all since August 2nd due to a sprained ankle – now has a back condition that required him to go see a back specialist. “Burress is over in New York seeing the doctor about his back,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It started at the end of last week. After he practiced a few days…I’m not sure what it was, what provoked it I don’t know…Over the weekend it got somewhat better but not completely, so that is why he is seeing a doctor. ” Burress has not played in a game this preseason.

And Robert Douglas, the only fullback on the roster, will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus cartilage in one of his knees. “I really don’t know what the timeframe will be on that,” said Coughlin. “They can tell us more after they do the scope.”

Without Douglas, HB Reuben Droughns was forced to move to fullback in practice yesterday, a move that Droughns has previously said he would not be thrilled with. “We are going to work Reuben, who has done that before, you know, did it in Denver and of course (TE Michael) Matthews,” said Coughlin. “I would like to see Reuben this week at fullback.”

In addition to Tyree, Burress, and Douglas, 12 more players missed practice yesterday: LB Kawika Mitchell (groin), LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee), CB Sam Madison (hamstring), S Will Demps (elbow), CB E.J. Underwood (jaw), CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring), CB Gerrick McPhearson (ankle), DE Adrian Awasom (abductor), OC Grey Ruegamer (ankle), OC Todd Londot (ankle), OT/OG Adam Koets (undisclosed injury), and LS Ryan Kuehl (calf).

TE Jeremy Shockey (hamstring), HB Derrick Ward (ankle), and P Jeff Feagles (back) did return to practice.

Also, the prognosis for CB E.J. Underwood (broken) jaw was significantly improved. “They are talking about a week,” said Coughlin, “that he could actually practice in a week’s time.”

WR Sinorice Moss practiced but continues to be bothered by an ankle injury. WR Anthony Mix worked with the first team in practice yesterday.

New York Giants Place DT Marcus Bell on Injured Reserve: The Giants placed DT Marcus Bell on Injured Reserve with an unspecified knee injury. His season is over.

Bell is the seventh Giant to be placed on Injured Reserve, joining FB Jim Finn, WR Michael Jennings, S Michael Stone, TE Darcy Johnson, DE Charrod Taylor, and DE Dek Bake.

New York Giants Waive Six Players: The Giants waived six players yesterday. TE Rodney Burgess (shoulder) was waived/injured. OT Myniya Smith, LB Karibi Dede, S Richard Yancy, OC Nick Jones, and WR Will Buchanon were waived.

The Giants must make one more move to reach the 75-man roster limit by 4PM today.

Article on DE Michael Strahan: With Strahan, There’s No Rush by Gary Myers of The New York Daily News

Aug 272007
 
New York Jets 20 – New York Giants 12

by Damon Micalizzi for BigBlueInteractive.com

One of the major questions heading into this preseason was: How do you replace your two leaders and arguably your two best players on both sides of the ball? That question was answered with an exclamation point against the Jets. While Eli Manning continues to look the leader of the Big Blue Offense in the post-Tiki world, Justin Tuck is doing his best to alleviate any concerns about whether or not Michael Strahan returns to the Giants. In the annual preseason match-up against our roommates in green, save the first play of the game, the first team dominated the line of scrimmage on both Offense and Defense.

Quarterbacks

It was another impressive game for Eli. His footwork was exceptional, his throws were on the money, both from in the pocket and on the move. Against the Jets, he showed great pocket presence, stepping up and moving around to buy time to get rid of the ball. He really looks to be taking his game to the next level, looking better and better each game, while throwing most of his passes to guys not named Burress, Shockey and Toomer.

With Jared Lorenzen getting the night off, Anthony Wright had a chance to run the second team offense and did nothing really to help his cause. Wright’s throws were not very crisp including a badly under-thrown deep ball that Steve Smith almost was able to come up with. Wright, who’s ability to run could have been his saving grace, didn’t run the ball once against the Jets.

Unless Coach Coughlin opts to only keep two QBs (highly unlikely), Tim Hasselbeck will probably win the third QB spot by default. Though largely unspectacular, Hasselbeck was just slightly better than Wright, delivering the ball with a little more accuracy and seemingly just running the offense with a little more confidence. Heaven forbid anything ever happens to Eli.

Running Backs

This may be the deepest group of runningbacks the Giants have ever had. Brandon Jacobs continues to make himself small (easier said than done) while hitting the hole, and pushes the first few guys to meet him backwards. More importantly, he really seems to have matured as he has refrained from showing much emotion on the field.

Reuben Droughns was effective in backing up Jacobs, but will probably be more of a threat lining up with Jacobs in the backfield now that Robert Douglas has gone down with his injury. Coughlin could choose to IR Douglas with Droughns and Mike Matthews splitting duties at FB.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the depth chart shakes out at this position. Ahmad Bradshaw has shined as a runner and as a kick returner, and will hopefully touch the ball a few times in each game. Douglas’ injury could mean a roster spot for Ryan Grant as well. He only had two carries against the Jets, but one of them was for 10 yards and he also had a nice catch out of the backfield.

Wide Receivers

Thankfully, there looks to be a lot of depth at WR as well. Amani Toomer looks like he’s shaking off the rust from his injury just fine, running good routes and making a nice 20-yard grab in traffic across the middle.

David Tyree had his annual big catch and run in a preseason game. This time it was called back due to a stupid penalty on Toomer. Then Tyree broke his wrist. It doesn’t look good for the special teams ace, as others are excelling on specials and that could land him on the IR. Anthony Mix looks more and more like a viable NFL wide receiver with every game. Although he did come down with a case of alligator arms on the one well thrown ball Wright had all night. With Manning at the helm though, Mix showed soft hands against the Jets with seven catches of all varieties going over the middle and showing veteran savvy pushing off ever so slightly on a fade pattern to catch a touchdown.

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again and again. Steve Smith is a gamer and will be a big threat out of the slot this year. Manning and he look comfortable together and very much on the same page. Doing his best Tim Carter impression, Sinorice Moss looked good on an end around, and then promptly limped off the field. Thankfully it did not appear that Moss was hurt badly as he was in jumping for an extremely high Hasselbeck pass in the endzone a few plays later.

Tight Ends

With Robert Douglas going down, Mike Matthews is almost assured of a roster spot. Matthews has shown the ability to block and catch from the TE position and doubles nicely as an H-back as well. So far he’s got to have an edge on Kevin Boss, who did finally make a catch against the Jets, but should have had two, as he had a pass from Eli go through his hands. He was diving for it, but should have had it. As a blocker, Boss has yet to show me anything.

Offensive Line

The more I watch David Diehl at Left Tackle, the more I am impressed. Sure he had a rough game against Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs two weeks ago. Most guys do. He has been solid ever since. The rest of the first team looks good. Against the Jets, they were getting good leverage across the line, pushing Jets defenders back off the LOS and opening nice holes.

The Matt Lentz experiment at center seems to have some life left as he and Anthony Wright have seemingly gotten their snap issues taken care of. Meantime, Guy Whimper is quietly having another good preseason and should be able to back up both O-Tackle positions if necessary. Carl Banks wrongly blamed Whimper, by the way for the third quarter sack of Anthony Wright.

Defensive Line

To refer to Justin Tuck as Plan B would be an insult the way he is playing. But, should Michael Strahan decide to come back, Tuck is making a strong bid to start anyway. Tuck is not only showing great speed and quickness in rushing the passer off the edge, he’s doing a fabulous job against the run as well. On the Jets’ second series Tuck had three consecutive tackles, including a sack where he moved inside and if he didn’t get to the quarterback, Osi Umenyiora would have. Osi, got his sack on the next series, although, Tuck was also there, along with Kawika Mitchell on the blitz as well. On the interior, Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins were plugging the middle, and getting penetration, seemingly at will against the Jets.

The Jets starters to no surprise, had a lot more success moving the ball against the second team defense, pretty much running right through the line for their second score of the game. Jay Alford and William Joseph were both caught out of position and had a hard time on a few plays holding their gaps on the Jets second TD drive. Alford is a rookie, and is learning. Joseph doesn’t really have an excuse, though he did play better against the Jets scrubs.

Linebackers

Learning curve be damned, because Mathias Kiwanuka is such an amazing athlete, Offensive Coordinators will have to start game planning for him. He just looks more comfortable every week. With or without Strahan, this front seven is going to be fun to watch. With Tuck moving inside on passing downs, and Kiwanuka lining up at DE, QBs are going to be looking to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible.

Any way you look at it, this team is in better shape at linebacker than they have been in years. Kawika Mitchell is fast. He didn’t make any tackles on D against the Jets, but the D-line played so well, he really didn’t have to. He plays the angles well, and He did fly down field and make a tackle on a punt. Also on Osi’s sack, he came in on the blitz and pummeled the fullback right into Pennington. When Mitchell hurt his groin, Reggie Torbor stepped in and did a nice job against the run. Torbor, will probably stick after being in on a handful of tackles with the first team.

Zak DeOssie continues to shine on Specials and on Defense he moves well with the play and has a gritty, blue-collar toughness about him that will make him a fan favorite.

Cornerbacks

On the first play from scrimmage you got the feeling that it was going to be one of those nights, as R.W. McQuarters jumped on a pump fake and never recovered on a deep catch by Leon Washington for a 79 yard score. He really wasn’t challenged the rest of the way though, but the starting secondary as a whole wasn’t really challenged as the front seven made all of the plays on D. R.W. appears to be the primary punt returner.
Corey Webster started opposite McQuarters, but wasn’t really tested. He does appear to be much more comfortable playing press coverage, rather than starting 15 yards off the receiver.

The back-ups in the secondary did not have a great night. Late in the third quarter, on two plays reminiscent of the Seattle game from a year ago, Kevin Dockery got beat on a deep ball to Justin McCareins on a play where the ball was thrown perfectly, and the stronger McCareins was able to easily come down with the ball as Dockery just played the ball wrong. On the very next play, rookie Aaron Ross, who looked to have very good coverage on the receiver, had Brad Smith beat him by a step and bring in the ball to set up the QB sneak. Later though, both Dockery and Ross made nice plays in coverage, with Dockery almost getting an interception. Ross looks to be getting used to the speed of the game.

Safeties

He hasn’t had his name called much this preseason, but Gibril Wilson seems to always be around the ball. Spagnuolo looks to be letting Gibril use his speed and freelance a bit coming up in the box. On the other hand, James Butler has looked not only a step slow as of late, but was caught out of position at times, most obvious on Washington’s TD catch, where Butler should have been there for the tackle after McQuarters got burnt.

That one play was really the only blemish on the first team D’s report card as Jets had three and out after three and out the rest of the half and into the second half until Coach Coughlin decided to pull the starters.

When the reserves entered, Michael Johnson may have secured a roster spot with six tackles, however, some poor coverage and missed tackles in front of him kept him busy. Fellow Rookie Craig Dahl though, looks to be a goner. I don’t think he ever recovered from week one. He’s fast and plays with heart, but will probably end up on the practice squad until he can learn to keep his head in the game. J.R Reed’s acrobatic one hand interception was borderline amazing.

Special Teams

This unit will undoubtedly be under the microscope as the Giants finish up next week against the Patriots. Cory Ohnesorge didn’t look too bad and had a great Feagles-esque punt downed by David Tyree at the 2 that set up the Giants safety. He might land on the practice squad as insurance should Jeff Feagles back act up.

Lawrence Tynes probably won’t be playing next week as he missed two field goals and continues to leave his kickoffs short. Josh Houston didn’t exactly help himself missing a 42-yard field goal. However, if a better option doesn’t hit the waiver wire soon, he could get the job by default. That might not be a bad thing, as Houston looked good last week against Baltimore.

With Tyree now out for 4-6 weeks, Coughlin has more decisions to make. Coverage on punts and kickoffs has been excellent all preseason long, but Tyree’s roster spot could be in jeopardy. Only time will tell.

Jay Alford’s snaps were low on Tynes two field goal misses and with Ryan Kuehl now done for the year, long snapping duties will probably be Zak DeOssie. Let’s hope that this unit irons things out soon.

All in all, you have to feel good about how the Giants starters looked against the Jets. The Giants owned the trenches on both sides of the ball, Manning looks to be turning the corner and there appears to be viable depth at all the skill positions on offense. Questions still remain unanswered at kicker and in the secondary. Let’s just hope no one gets hurt next weekend against the Pats.

(Box Score – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 25, 2007)
Aug 272007
 

August 26, 2007 New York Giants Injury Report: Kawika Mitchell suffered a groin strain against the Jets. The injury is not believed to be serious. “(He) had some strength (Sunday) morning,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “Hopefully that is going to be something we can control. I don’t know if he can work it for this week, but he will make it.”

The bad news is that CB E.J. Underwood broke his jaw and will undergo surgery. “That’s a pretty serious thing,” Coughlin said. “There’s going to be a length of time there when we can’t have contact, so (whether to put him on Injured Reserve) is a decision we’ll have to make.”

TE Rodney Burgess (shoulder) will undergo an MRI.

Coughlin said that other players were scheduled to undergo MRI’s and X-rays but he did not identify those players. “We have a few people that are getting MRI’s that I really shouldn’t comment on until I find out what the MRI’s are,” said Coughlin. “We have some other guys that are being X-rayed or MRI’ed that I will comment on when I get the information back.”

As for those players who did not play, Coughlin said LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee) and LS Ryan Kuehl were making progress, but were not ready to return to practice.

Cuts Looming: The Giants must reach the NFL maximum of 75 players by 4PM on Tuesday. The final cutdown to 53 players will be on September 1st.

Article on DE Justin Tuck: Tuck Rolls on Borrowed Time by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on QB Eli Manning: Manning on Target for Giants by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Aug 252007
 

Giants Fall to Jets, 20-12, But Giants Dominate First Half – Game Notes: WLB Kawika Mitchell left the game in the second quarter with a groin injury. No word on how serious the injury may be.

Giants’ place kickers missed three field goals. Lawrence Tynes missed from 40 and 43 yards out. He did connect on a 40-yard effort. Josh Huston missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.

Those who did not play against the Jets included WR Plaxico Burress (flu), TE Jeremy Shockey (hamstring), Sam Madison (hamstring), P Jeff Feagles (back), DE Adrian Awasom (unkown), DT Jason Bell (unknown), CB HB Derrick Ward (ankle), S Will Demps (elbow), LB Gerris Wilkinson (knee), OC Todd Londot (ankle), OC Grey Ruegamer (ankle), and LS Ryan Kuehl (calf).

Defensive Ends Charrod Taylor and Dek Bake Added to Injured Reserve: The Giants have added DE Charrod Taylor (foot) and DE Dek Bake (back) to Injured Reserve. Both had been injured/waived earlier this month.

Aug 252007
 

By Eric Klein (DigitaLx2001) for BigBlueInteractive.com

Perhaps the concept of a true ‘team’ and what it means to be part of one is lost in this modern sports era of free agency, huge salaries, and even larger egos. Maybe I’m the one who’s being the idealist, expecting players to show some loyalty to their organization, their teammates and their fans. It’s just how I was raised, my experiences as part of a team (though certainly not on a pro sports level) and what I expect to see from professional athletes and the Giants that I have rooted for my entire life.

I did not choose to be a New York Giants fan; it was essentially bestowed upon me before I could even walk. My loyalty is unquestioned, and it’s not as if I even had a choice in the matter. This is blind loyalty, and something that (aside from probably being somewhat unhealthy) I could not expect an athlete to have for the Giants in the same way that I do. That much I do understand.

I can definitely see why a player may not have a true allegiance to a team; as a fan, I don’t have to worry about the Giants cutting or trading me, but they can do so to a player on a whim. Fans can boo players and call for them to be run out of town, so I can also understand if a player is weary of a team’s fan base.

Lack of loyalty to teammates, though, is what really makes me ill. These are the men that you went to war with; you went through the same two-a-days, spilled the same blood in the same mud (to quote a line from “The Rock”), and endured that same overtime game where you’re barely able to stand, let alone endure another snap, colliding full speed into the enemy with every ounce of strength you have left.

If you don’t do your job, not only does that affect the team’s chances of winning (which may not be of any real importance to many of these players anymore), but you may be responsible for a teammate being seriously injured. The same holds true for them; your career is always on the line – one slip up by anyone and it could be compromised in the blink of an eye. The trust of each man to put their livelihood in the hands of another on a perpetual basis is something that most people cannot fathom.

With this trust, one would think there would be loyalty. This is apparently no longer so.

Let’s take Tiki Barber and Eli Manning as obvious examples, two men that were on the same team for three years. Let’s say its 2004, and rookie Eli throws a dump pass a little too lackluster, leaving Barber exposed to a massive hit resulting in a career ending injury. His playing days end as someone who was decent but never really shook his fumbling habit, and he becomes an afterthought in Giants history (Yes, he’d be near many of the Giants records, but did anyone think he was great before 2004? Honestly, he was one of the most frustrating players I could remember because he would do something truly spectacular, then proceed to fumble the ball away. Anyway.. not my main point here).

Conversely, if Tiki misses a blitz pickup and Manning gets railed, we’re looking for another franchise QB. These are extreme situations, but could have happened at ANY TIME over three years. These men battled together and at times literally put each others careers in one another’s hands. Two men that, while possessing entirely different demeanors, were both highly competitive and seeking the same ultimate goal of achieving that ring – an honor which nobody could ever take away or say you didn’t earn. This is not the same type of bond one forms with a coworker at an office job. This HAS to be something more. Hearing Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms talk about one another, even though they had their disagreements, it’s apparent they are still very close after all these years – we’ve all seen the NFL Films specials. Sure, winning a Super Bowl helps, but camaraderie now just doesn’t seem to be what it once was.

So here we have Tiki Barber, Tiki calling out Eli on national television, saying that it was almost “comical” when he had given a pre-game speech in 2006. Maybe he just wants to advance his television career, and keeping one’s mouth shut and analyzing football itself just doesn’t land enough face time I suppose. I guess it’s too much to ask for him to say something like “We’ll find out how Eli has been progressing as a leader as he has another year under his belt” or basically ANYTHING that doesn’t publicly expose a former teammate.

There are fans and members of the media who have defended Barber’s words, claiming he can say whatever he wants now; he’s not a Giant and he’s just telling you what he observed, using his inside knowledge to reveal as much as possible about the game of football. What side of the fence one falls on with this issue here really comes down to who you are as a person. Loyalty is a trait that you either have, or you don’t – you can’t be a little bit loyal. Tiki does not have loyalty to his teammates or to his former organization for whom he claimed to love so much. He decided it was more important to be noticed and to try to advance his post-NFL career. Running his mouth for the sake of maybe landing more new TV roles was more important (to someone who is already plenty rich, by the way) than staying low key and not adding more drama and controversy to his team of 10 years, and to the players he came to know as well as his own family.

I, for one, can honestly say I would never do that. Why? Because it does not take being in a position where my loyalty is on the line to know if I would break it, and it’s not like this is a tough decision either. I am certain that as a rich retired professional athlete that I would be perfectly content trying to make it as an analyst without ever compromising my former team in any way. Period. It’s been done before… by just about every other NFL-player-turned-TV-personality I can think of (Marshall Faulk, Rod Woodson, Steve Young… even Michael Irvin, who I of course hated as a player, has never thrown his teammates under the bus), except Barber of course.

Let’s forget for a second that this is all Tiki’s opinion, and the current Giants players might even agree with what he said (despite the fact that basically the whole team came out in defense of Eli). In all fairness, it’s very possible they could just be supporting Eli because thats what good teammates do. Ultimately, it’s better for the team to be together and unified behind their leader than for a potentially ugly (and in this case, maybe true) distraction to come out. But hey, maybe thats just my own crazy thinking.

Even if every word Tiki spoke was 100% true, he has still broken the trust and loyalty that should go along with what it means to be a true teammate; that’s why Eli fired back. Calm “aw, shucks” Easy E got riled up enough to respond because Tiki broke the unspoken rule: what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. Publicly revealing fact or fiction here is still a betrayal, so I have no idea how anyone could possibly use the “it’s ok because it’s true” counterpoint (and if anything, truths are much more hurtful; picture this whole situation between you and a friend). The content of Tiki’s ramble is entirely irrelevant to me. Manning was in fact betrayed, as I believe the Giants organization as well as fans have been. Tiki Barber, even after his antics last year calling out the coaching and slipping about his retirement, still would have been held in very high regard by most fans after his career ended. This, however, I personally cannot forgive.

I’ve always wanted my Giants to be different than all those other teams, with players like Owens who are complete trash and have no concept of anything but their own popularity. I thought class was something we had, as a whole, over a lot of other teams – the fans, the organization, the players. Perhaps this is not the case. However, in my unwavering loyalty, I will still be a Giants fan, and will never stop rooting hard on Sundays. In my eyes, there is just a void atop the rushing records in our history now that we’ll have to work on filling in. Seems we’ve got this big ol’ monster wearing number 27 back there now… so with any luck, maybe that’ll happen sooner than later.

Aug 252007
 

New York Giants Waive S Jason Bell and LB Barry Robertson: The New York Giants have waived LB Barry Robertson. According to The Daily News, the Giants have also reached an injury settlement with S Jason Bell and released him from Injured Reserve. Bell was placed on IR before training camp started with a back injury.

The Latest on DE Michael Strahan: Mike’s Giant Return Soon by Ralph Vacchiano of The New York Daily News

Article on the Place Kicking Battle: To Pick a Kicker, Giants First Need to See Them Kick by John Branch of The New York Times