NY GIANTS Articles and Video
Posted 02 June 2011 - 04:32 PM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Originally Published:Thursday, June 2nd 2011, 10:41 AM
Updated: Thursday, June 2nd 2011, 10:41 AM
Giants co-owner John Mara was one of several owners who attended a secret meeting in Chicago Wednesday with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association boss DeMaurice Smith -- a meeting that possibly could indicate a thaw in the icy relationship between NFL owners and the players.
Though the details of the meeting are still sketchy, the importance of a face-to-face session between the sides can't be dismissed since it was believed to be the first time they met without lawyers present since Feb. 5 -– the day before the Super Bowl. They met Wednesday even though they’ll be facing off again in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis Friday morning, and even though federal mediation is scheduled to resume in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
According to one source familiar with the talks, the meeting was ongoing Thursday morning, but was expected to break up later in the day.
It doesn't appear any significant progress was immediately made, but the hope around the league is that perhaps they laid the groundwork for some future movement.
The NFL has been essentially shut down since March 12, when the owners locked out the players a few hours after the NFL Players Association decertified and announced its intention to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The lockout is now in its 83rd day.
According to various reports, the meeting was attended by Mara, Goodell, Smith, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Steelers owner Art Rooney. Those owners comprise most of the NFL's negotiating committee. One report said there were several players and other members of their negotiating committee present, too.
The meeting was presided over by Judge Arthur Boylan, according to the Washington Post. Boylan is the court-appointed mediator who has been handling the NFL labor talks since early April.
The story broke late Wednesday night by the Chicago Tribune when the newspaper learned that several owners had flown their private planes to DuPage Airport in West Chicago. A Tribune photographer snapped a picture of Kraft boarding his jet at the end of the meeting and pictures of Jones' jet, complete with a large Cowboys star on the tail.
Neither the NFL nor the decertified NFL Players Association had any immediate comment on the meeting.
The two sides are now headed to St. Louis where their lawyers will argue in front of a three-judge panel with the 8th Circuit Friday morning. The NFL is appealing an injunction that was granted by Judge Susan Nelson to block the lockout in late April. The appeals court has already granted a temporary "stay" of that injunction and another "stay" that prevents the injunction from being enforced until they panel rules on the appeal.
Based on the wording of the ruling in their 2-1 decision to grant the more permanent stay, the three-judge panel is expected to again rule in favor of the owners. That would allow the owners to keep the lockout going indefinitely. It would also swing almost all of the leverage in this labor battle to their side.
A ruling from the 8th Circuit isn't expected until late June or perhaps early July. In the meantime, another round of federal mediation, ordered by Judge Nelson, is scheduled to resume on Tuesday in Minneapolis.
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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:57 AM
BY Kristie Ackert
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Tuesday, June 14th 2011, 4:00 AM
While former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was trying to begin his new, post-prison life with a downtown press conference, Giants coach Tom Coughlin, his former coach, was wishing him well.
"I wish Plaxico and his family nothing but the best. I would hope some form of normalcy would come back to their lives," Coughlin said Monday. "He had a child born while he was incarcerated, those things, I cannot imagine what his wife went through," Coughlin continued. "But I hope that they have a chance to have some normalcy to their lives, Plaxico gets a chance to get reacquainted with his kids. I am sincere in that."
Coughlin said he simply did not know if Burress could return to the Giants, the team he helped win the Super Bowl months before his legal problems began.
"Never say never," said Coughlin, who spoke after playing in a Giants Foundation charity golf event at Westchester Country Club in Rye. "But we have not discussed it."
Still the Giants, who cut Burress in April 2009, would not rule out a possible return. "We'll investigate it just like every free agent that hits the market," GM Jerry Reese said. "We'll do our homework and see if it makes sense for the Giants and how it fits for the Giants. "
Owner John Mara said it would be something Giants management would have to discuss - once the lockout is settled. "That's something we'll talk about at the appropriate time," Mara said.
Speaking about players definitely in the Giants' future, Coughlin was encouraged by reports of their organized workouts in New Jersey.
"I'm glad to see there's an attempt on the part of the player to do some things together," Coughlin said. "Anytime you get to spend together is a good thing."
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Posted 26 July 2011 - 03:46 PM
July, 25, 2011
A look at the free-agent priorities for each NFC East team:
1. Re-sign left tackle Doug Free. He is coming off his first season as starting left tackle, but Free handled the move well and is viewed as the starting left tackle of the Cowboys' future. More importantly, with rookie Tyron Smith slated to start at right tackle and probably not yet ready to play on the left side, Free is the Cowboys' left tackle of the present. If he were to go elsewhere, the Cowboys would be scrambling to find a tackle, and it could mess with all of the other plans they need to make and execute before training camp begins. Expect Free to draw lots of interest, and his price tag to be higher than the Cowboys probably were hoping.
2. Fill holes in the secondary. The plan seems to be to move Alan Ball back to cornerback, so while you'll hear the Cowboys connected to free-agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, they're more likely to focus on bringing in a safety or two. There's a chance they re-sign their own guy, Gerald Sensabaugh, and then go get a free agent such as Eric Weddle, Michael Huff or Quintin Mikell. But if Sensabaugh were to leave, Dallas would be in the difficult position of having to sign two safeties.
3. Find defensive ends. With Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher set to be free agents, the Cowboys need a couple of starters at defensive end, too. They could bring both guys back, but it's not as if the defensive line was a position of strength for Dallas in 2010, so they'll probably at least look elsewhere. The Packers' Cullen Jenkins would be a nice fit, though there will be competition for him from within the division, as you'll see below in the Redskins' section.
Top five free agents: OT Free, G Kyle Kosier, DE Bowen, DE Hatcher, S Sensabaugh
New York Giants
1. Figure out which of their own guys to keep. With Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield, Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss all set to potentially go free, the Giants have to prioritize and figure out which guys they're keeping. The top priority is probably going to be Bradshaw, an emerging star at running back, and it appears they'll let Cofield walk while trying to bring back Boss. They think the injury situations with Kiwanuka and Smith will help keep those guys' prices reasonable. But before the Giants hit the market, they'll need to get their own free-agent house in order.
2. Get at least one linebacker. The Giants have ignored this position over the past couple of years, and they seem to believe Jonathan Goff can handle the middle linebacker spot. They'd probably be better off moving him back outside and exploring the middle linebacker market, which includes Stephen Tulloch, Barrett Ruud and Paul Posluszny. But if they're set on keeping Goff in the middle, perhaps someone such as Manny Lawson or Nick Barnett could be a fit. It's one thing not to prioritize a position, but it's another to ignore it completely, and the Giants have been doing that with linebacker, to their detriment.
3. Some offensive line insurance. There were lots of injuries along the line in New York last season, and although it didn't kill them, it was a potential sign of things to come. The Giants hope Will Beatty will soon be ready to take over at left tackle for a declining David Diehl, but they must watch out for the health of Shaun O'Hara at center. And if they have to cut Shawn Andrews to sign some other guys, they'll need to replace him with a tackle who can provide depth.
Top five free agents: RB Bradshaw, DE/LB Kiwanuka, TE Boss, DT Cofield, WR Smith
1. Settle the Kevin Kolb situation. If they can get the great deal for him that most believe they can (i.e., a first-round pick plus), the Eagles will deal Kolb and look for a reliable backup quarterback who can play if and when Michael Vick gets hurt. If they can't get good value for Kolb, they'll probably keep him to serve as said reliable backup. A trade is most likely, but whatever happens, the Eagles will probably settle this soon after the league year begins.
2. Sign a cornerback. The starting spot opposite Asante Samuel is open, and no one on the current roster appears able to fill it. That's why you've heard, and will continue to hear, the Eagles connected with Asomugha. Philadelphia must rank among his most likely destinations at this point. If they don't get him, they'll look down the list at guys such as Johnathan Joseph, Ike Taylor and Antonio Cromartie. And there's a chance they could get a cornerback for Kolb. But they'll get one somewhere.
3. Re-sign Stewart Bradley. Sure, they could let Bradley go and play Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. Chaney looked, at least, capable in that spot last season and may be the Eagles' future at the position. But if Bradley leaves, the Eagles' problems will be about more than just the alignment of the linebackers. They'll actually be short on bodies and will need to play the free-agent field to find a replacement. Bradley's had injury problems, but when healthy, he's the Eagles' best linebacker and could be a key cog in whatever new defensive alignment Juan Castillo and Jim Washburn are cooking up.
Top five free agents: LB Bradley, S Mikell, G Nick Cole, RB Jerome Harrison, CB Ellis Hobbs
1. Fill out the defensive line. Whether they add a free-agent nose tackle such as Aubrayo Franklin or look at defensive end options like Jenkins, the Redskins must figure who their starting defensive linemen are. They like their linebacking corps, and although they also need a cornerback, they love their safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe in the fold next to LaRon Landry. But their good, young outside linebackers will need big, space-eating ends in front of them to open up lanes to the passer. And they'll also need to get some sort of pass rush from the line, whether it's from the nose or the ends.
2. Re-sign Santana Moss. The Redskins are making noise about pursuing a big-time wideout such as Santonio Holmes or Sidney Rice. But the reality is that it's going to be tough to convince receivers to sign in Washington while they're not viewed as a contender and the quarterback situation remains so cloudy. Moss likes it in Washington. The Redskins like him. And he's a nice guy to have around to help out young receivers Anthony Armstrong and Leonard Hankerson -- not to mention inexperienced quarterback John Beck.
3. Resolve the Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth situations. They don't want either player on the team anymore, but the question is how to get rid of them. They might be able to dump McNabb for a late-round draft pick, but if they can't, they'll probably just cut him and let him find his next job on his own. Haynesworth has trade value in a league where many 4-3 teams are looking for interior defensive line help. Don't expect the Redskins to cut Haynesworth, because they don't want to do him any favors and they don't want him free to sign with former Tennessee D-line coach Washburn in Philadelphia. If they can't get value for him, don't be surprised if Haynesworth remains on the team all season and has a hard time getting into games.
Top five free agents: WR Moss, OT Jammal Brown, CB Carlos Rogers, LB Rocky McIntosh, QB Rex Grossman
Posted 27 July 2011 - 09:31 AM
BY Gary Myers
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Originally Published:Tuesday, July 26th 2011, 9:29 PM
Updated: Wednesday, July 27th 2011, 2:27 AM
After the Giants and Burress spoke Tuesday to detect each other's interest in what would be a most unlikely reunion, Burress got on a plane from Florida and arrived in New York for a meeting with Giants officials. The meeting, which was first reported by the Daily News Tuesday night, is believed to be taking place Wednesday in the New York area, a well-placed source told the Daily News Tuesday night.
If the Giants hear what they want from Burress and Burress is comfortable with what he hears from the Giants, this could happen by Friday, the first day veteran players without contracts are allowed to sign following the 136-day lockout. Burress was released from prison on June 6 after serving nearly two years on a gun charge.
After the lockout ended Monday, teams were allowed to start contacting players Tuesday. The Giants didn't waste any time talking to Burress, who will be 34 on Aug. 12. Burress and the Giants were in contact Tuesday. The source said Burress and the Giants have legitimate interest in each other. The Texans, Rams and Eagles also contacted Burress Tuesday, sources said. But if things go well in the meeting, the Giants could be the favorites to sign Burress.
After Burress had previously indicated he didn't envision himself coming back to the Giants, he has warmed to the idea and is much more receptive to it.
Several teammates have endorsed his return. Burress and Giants co-owner Steve Tisch also have a very strong relationship.
Clearly, Burress has to smooth over what was a very rocky coach-players dynamic with Tom Coughlin, who fined Burress numerous times in his four years with the team.
"I really don't know what I'm going to say," Burress told The Star-Ledger. "I'm just going to go in there tomorrow and speak from the heart, be truthful with him and let (Coughlin) know how I feel. Whatever comes out is going to come out. I'm pretty sure there are things he wants to say, too.
"I do love New York. My fan base here has been great to me. But it's not just about football; there are just a lot of things that go into it. But after this I'll know a lot more. Without a doubt, without question."
It was considered a longshot that the Giants would even think of bringing back Burress, who wrecked the Giants' chances to repeat as Super Bowl champions when he accidentally shot himself in the leg in a Manhattan nightclub the night after Thanksgiving in 2008. The Giants, who were 10-1 at the time but lost in their first playoff game, eventually cut him.
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Posted 01 August 2011 - 02:00 PM
Plaxico's a Jet, the Eagles have reloaded, Osi's an issue. What's Big Blue to do?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Osi Umenyiora slowly pedaled a stationary bike as he made his first public appearance at the New York Giants' practice facility Sunday night.
And just as the Giants were starting their second practice of the season with Umenyiora watching, Plaxico Burress was being introduced to the media on a conference call as a New York Jet.
Start with Umenyiora, who has ended his holdout and has even spoken to Jerry Reese. However, all indications are that the defensive end still wants a new contract or to be traded. He also has yet to practice and his health is in question since Coughlin said Umenyiora was scheduled to meet with team doctor Russell Warren on Sunday afternoon and might not be cleared to practice.
Then there's free agents Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss -- three starters who remained unsigned as of last night. And their first-round pick, Prince Amukamara, also missed his second straight practice while the Giants try to sign the cornerback.
One thing we do know is that Burress won't be reuniting with the Giants.
"It's disappointing," defensive end Justin Tuck said on the Ian O'Connor Show on ESPN New York 1050 on Sunday. "But for Plaxico it is a great opportunity for him to get back to playing football. Give the Jets credit. For the Giants, for us, it is moving forward now."
It certainly has not been the smoothest start to the 2011 training camp for the Giants. While some teams like the Eagles have made waves in free agency, the Giants have been in somewhat of a holding pattern.
So far, the Giants' biggest signings have been their re-signing of Mathias Kiwanuka and the addition of former San Francisco center David Baas.
Their biggest splash of free agency really has been the releasing of center Shaun O'Hara, guard Rich Seubert, tackle Shawn Andrews and losing Barry Cofield to the Redskins.
The Burress decision stings a bit since many Giants campaigned for him and it would have been nice to have Burress complement Hakeem Nicks against the Eagles' star-studded secondary featuring Nnamdi Asomugha.
But that will feel like a mosquito bite if the Giants lose Bradshaw, Smith and/or Boss this week. And even if they are able to re-sign all three, it still would be nice to see the Giants make another key free-agent move.
Last season, the Giants won 10 games but really would have made the playoffs if they could have gotten out of their own way with turnovers, played better special teams and avoided one epic meltdown against the Eagles.
But this season, it appears that not only will the Giants have to play more disciplined football and cut down on the interceptions and fumbles, they'll also have to rely on a few unproven players.
On the offensive line, Baas will have to replace O'Hara and the chemistry the veteran center had with Manning with only one full season as the starting center in San Francisco. There also likely will be somebody new covering Manning's blindside as the Giants appear ready to hand the left tackle job over to Will Beatty, their 2009 second-round pick.
Defensively, the Giants hope a trio of second-round picks will plug some holes for them. Last year's second-rounder, Linval Joseph, and this year's second-round pick, Marvin Austin, will have to replace Cofield at defensive tackle.
And at linebacker, the position at which the Giants can use the most improvement, Clint Sintim, who is coming off ACL surgery last year, hopes to prove Reese was correct in using another 2009 second-round pick on the Virginia linebacker.
"With the opportunity to play a year ago, the extensive play time that a lot of these guys have had, this is going to be better," Coughlin said of his linebackers. "I think Jonathan Goff is going to be better, for example. Hopefully Sintim will stay on the field and be the player that we drafted him to be."
Only time will tell if Beatty, Sintim, Joseph and Austin will be upgrades at left tackle, linebacker and defensive tackle. But life certainly will be easier for them and the Giants if they can bring back their key free agents and add another veteran.
The Giants are working on a contingency plan as they will bring in Atlanta running back Jason Snelling for a visit on Monday, according to a source, and also will take a look at former Cardinals tight Ben Patrick. Perhaps they'll take a look at free-agent running back Ronnie Brown, although the free-agent market does appear to be drying up for Bradshaw with Miami, Cincinnati and Washington all appearing set at running back now.
Burress also would have been nice to have in case Smith, if re-signed, isn't ready for the start of the season. There's no guarantee, as Smith is coming off microfracture knee surgery in December.
Reese is a man who always has a plan. By the end of the week, he could have a much better idea what his team will look like. Players such as Kiwanuka, Baas, running back Brandon Jacobs and punter Steve Weatherford will be allowed to start practice on Aug. 4 due to the transition rules.
And perhaps by the end of the week, the Umenyiora situation will clear up and Bradshaw, Smith and Boss will be rejoining their teammates. Until then, several questions remain about the Giants.
At least Tuck is still confident about his team.
"We still need to try our best to get our free agents, like a Boss, Steve Smith, Osi [Umenyiora, who wants a new contract] and Ahmad," Tuck said. "But no one really gave us a shot the year we won the Super Bowl. We like the situation. We really do."
"We feed off of it," he added about the talk being centered on the Eagles and Jets over the weekend. "I think we play better when we are backed into a corner. We like kind of being under the radar. You give the Philadelphia Eagles and the Jets credit. They got players they felt they needed. We will see what happens."
Posted 03 August 2011 - 09:18 AM
The Giants have had a gaping hole and an enormous question mark at linebacker for a few years, now. With a slew of big name free-agent MLBs hitting the open market last week, the Giants stayed quiet (again) and didn’t spend a wad of cash on a veteran playmaker at the position. Clint Sintim and Jonathan Goff — to the chagrin of many antsy Giants fans — appear to be the front runners to start on opening day. Ho hum.
Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:39 AM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Originally Published:Wednesday, August 3rd 2011, 5:12 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 4th 2011, 2:53 AM
There was a brief sign of a thaw in the relationship between the Giants and Osi Umenyiora Wednesday night. But there remains an icy chill in the air.
The disgruntled defensive end was a surprise spectator at practice, hours after a source said Giants general manager Jerry Reese told him to "take the rest of the day off to clear your head." He was still refusing to participate and there is no end in sight to his war with the Giants.
The fact that he stuck around, though, was something Tom Coughlin viewed as a positive sign.
"I was pleased," Coughlin said. "It's a good thing. I'm hoping that's the kind of indication that we're all looking for."
That may be the last sign of peace for a while, because according to a source who has spoken to Umenyiora, he is even angrier than he was when this whole mess started. The source said he was fuming Wednesday morning when the Giants told his agent, Tony Agnone, that he no longer had permission to seek a trade for his client after just two unsuccessful days of trying to find a team willing to meet the Giants' asking price of a first-round pick.
"He is sure they could've traded him," one source close to Umenyiora told the Daily News Wednesday night. "They had a lot more interest in him than they thought they would."
Agnone confirmed the Giants never dropped their asking price, which he said hampered his ability to find a trading partner. According to league sources, five teams expressed initial interest - St. Louis, Seattle, San Diego, Baltimore and Denver - but none was willing to give up more than a second-round pick. Two more teams - the Bears and Patriots - jumped in late after an erroneous report said the Giants would settle for a second-round pick.
Despite the interest, though, Reese pulled the plug on the shopping trip, which led an angry Umenyiora to tell Reese he wouldn't practice. That's when Reese gave Umenyiora what Coughlin called an "option" to go home. Instead, he decided to stay and watch practice as he has done since Sunday.
However, a source said the player doesn't plan to actually practice "anytime soon."
"He assumes that the next step is for them to fine him or suspend him," the source said. "Then it becomes a matter for the union and that's when it could get really ugly."
Actually, it's already pretty ugly, and there doesn't appear to be an easy resolution on the horizon. One source familiar with the mess said that Agnone approached Reese Wednesday in the hopes of finding a "creative solution" to Umenyiora's contract, but was immediately rebuffed.
The end has two years and $7.1 million remaining on his contract, but is looking to be paid closer to what top defensive ends are making - around $10 million per year.
Now, even the NFL Players Association is watching the tense stalemate, according to a league source, to make sure Umenyiora isn't being targeted in any way for his role as a plaintiff in the players' antitrust lawsuit against the league. So far, Umenyiora's only punishment was a $30,000 fine for his one-day holdout, but more is likely coming.
The Giants, meanwhile, continued to do their best Wednesday to move on without letting this become a distraction. And his teammates continued to do their best to show Umenyiora they've got his back.
"If he feels like this is the route he has to take, then I'm behind him 100%," said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. "Obviously we'd love to have him on the field, but whatever is best for him and his family, that's what I want to work out for him."
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Posted 04 August 2011 - 09:40 AM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
The salary cap-strapped Giants might be on the verge of taking another free-agent hit tonight because tight end Kevin Boss just finished a workout with the Oakland Raiders.
According to reports out of Oakland, the 27-year-old Boss was impressive in his workout for Raiders coach Hue Jackson and he is still at their camp in Napa, Calif. (as of around 10:15 p.m. ET). Boss was expected to take a physical, too. It was not immediately known if he was ready to sign a deal.
The Raiders appeared ready, though, one day after they lost their old tight end, Zach Miller, to the Seattle Seahawks. Miller and the 6-6, 253-pound Boss were considered the best tight ends on a weak market. Boss caught 35 passes for 531 yards and five touchdowns last year.
Obviously the loss of Boss would be huge for the Giants. The did sign TE Ben Patrick and they do have the promising Travis Beckum. But neither of them have proven to be as good of a receiver as Boss has been over the years.
Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:35 AM
Wednesday, August 10th 2011, 4:00 AM
Before they were Super Bowl champions, the Giants were a mess.
Nobody remembers it now, but that's the way it looked in the summer of 2007. Their best player, Tiki Barber, had just retired. Their other best player, Michael Strahan, was threatening retirement and holding out for more money. Their intensely unpopular coach had just gotten a one-year extension that still made him a "lame duck."
They cut their left tackle. They let two of their starting linebackers, a starting safety and their kicker go. The free-agent moves they did make were so seemingly insignificant, most people thought they had done absolutely nothing.
Just like they seem to be doing now.
The point is one the Giants are likely to spend the next few months reminding everyone about, but it happens to be a good one. The Eagles may be the "Dream Team," but championships aren't won in the offseason, and money has rarely bought them in the NFL. This summer has brought nothing but doom and gloom and constant bad news for the Giants.
But there is a pretty good possibility that things aren't as bad as they seem.
"No, I think everything's going smoothly," Eli Manning said with, believe it or not, his usual straight face. "There's always parts of camp when you have good days or some days when things are a little tougher."
"We've overcome all this stuff," added Tom Coughlin. "We'll do it again."
It's easy to put on a happy face in August when the first game is more than a month away. In this case, though, it's not completely unjustified, even with the departures of two veteran offensive linemen (Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara) . . . and defensive tackle Barry Cofield . . . and tight end Kevin Boss . . . not to mention the injury to first-round corner Prince Amukamara . . . the absence of Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith . . . and the Osi Umenyiora mess.
Despite all that, the Giants are left with the core of a team that underachieved last year but still went 10-6 and missed the playoffs only by a tiebreaker with the eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers.
Manning is back and healthy off what the Giants hope is an anomalous 25-interception season. He still has receiver Hakeem Nicks, whose numbers last season (79 catches, 1,052 yards, 11 touchdowns in just 13 games) put Plaxico Burress in his prime to shame. Receiver Mario Manningham is back too, off a 60-catch, 944-yard, nine-touchdown season despite starting only half of last year's games. And the 1-2 running back punch of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs returns, after combining for 2,058 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
Yes, they will miss Boss, but he had a very replaceable 35 catches last season. Yes, the offensive line is being rebuilt, but O'Hara barely played in '10 and the line was constantly juggled because of injuries, yet it helped produce 2,200 rushing yards while giving up only 16 sacks.
On defense, they may have lost Cofield (and possibly Umenyiora), but they still have Justin Tuck, an improving Jason Pierre-Paul and a healthy Mathias Kiwanuka, who played just three games last season. They retained their entire secondary, including safety Kenny Phillips, who is far healthier than he was last year.
Could things be better? Sure. It's a mystery how GM Jerry Reese allowed the Giants to get stuck in their current salary-cap mess. The Umenyiora situation is just a disaster they should've seen coming, too. They had months of warning after he called Reese a liar in a court affidavit. And really, Umenyiora has been telegraphing this current money battle for years.
That could be a huge distraction, even if they're not ready to admit it. If they can peacefully solve it, though, they have the pieces in place to compete in the NFC - even if they are stuck in the same division as the Eagles' "Dream Team."
"It's unfortunate with the injuries, and the stuff going on with the cap, and the Osi situation," said cornerback Terrell Thomas. "But we are not going to let it distract us."
That's pretty much what they said back in the summer of 2007 - about six months before they won Super Bowl XLII.
Posted 11 August 2011 - 09:36 AM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Thursday, August 11th 2011, 4:00 AM
Osi Umenyiora got off the exercise bike in the rehab area Wednesday, got down in his stance and showed off a few of his pass-rushing moves. It was a brief display, but he looked fresh, healthy, and definitely looked ready.
The Giants are ready, too.
Both sides expect and hope that there could be a final resolution to Umenyiora's standoff with the Giants sometime Thursday. The disgruntled defensive end is expected to be in Atlanta Thursday morning, where he will see a specialist - orthopedic surgeon Dr. Scott Gillogly - for a second opinion on his injured left knee.
If all goes well, Umenyiora will be cleared to practice and will return to the field on Monday, after the Giants' preseason opener at Carolina Saturday night. And if all goes well, Tom Coughlin will get the "closure" on this ugly mess that he and the entire organization need.
"I hope so," Coughlin said. "Yeah, I really do. I hope we get some closure on that chapter and start on a new one."
There was a sign of that Wednesday when Umenyiora abandoned the exercise bike that he has nearly worn out over the last 10 days to actually do something football-related. It wasn't practice, there was no lineman blocking him, and it was only a few moves. When it was over, he took off his jersey and headed off the field.
But at least it was something. And given what a source close to him said is his sudden willingness to give up his demand for the Giants to redo his contract or trade him, it may be only the start.
"It looks like there's progress to me," said teammate Justin Tuck. "There's movement. . . . He definitely wants to be on the football field. But I don't think he's in any rush. He's just taking it day by day."
Although Umenyiora's return does seem likely, there is still the possibility it could be complicated by the meniscus cartilage problem in his knee. The Giants obviously don't believe it needs surgery, even though Umenyiora was threatening to have it. Even people in Umenyiora's camp admit the threat had a hollow ring.
That said, who knows what the specialist will find? Maybe he will find, as expected, that Umenyiora can play through it and manage the pain, and then have it repaired after the season. Coughlin said he hasn't even pondered the possibility that Umenyiora would need the operation immediately - a procedure that would likely keep him out at least a month.
"I am thinking that whatever is in the best interest of our team right now, that's the only thing I've thought about," Coughlin said. "We will manage whatever we have to manage. We've done it with the hip. We couldn't practice Osi both Wednesday and Thursday (last year), so we practiced one day under those circumstances. If there's an issue here we'll find a way to work with the issue and we'll find a way to get the player in the best position he can be in."
That seems to be the most likely outcome, that Umenyiora will return and practice only a couple of times each week to preserve his knee. It also appears that he will return without the new contract - or, obviously, the trade - he's been demanding, although the Giants have put an incentive package on the table that he still could accept.
So far, according to a source, that hasn't been nearly enough to satisfy him, and it's pretty clear he'll be returning with a bitter taste in his mouth. Coughlin thinks Umenyiora can put his anger behind him.
"I think he'll be able to - whatever 'behind you' is," Coughlin said. "It's the season. It's time to go. Competitors feel it. It's time to go."
Posted 11 August 2011 - 03:38 PM
August, 11, 2011
By Dan Graziano
And a good morning to you all. Lovely one here in northern New Jersey as I head back to Giants camp for another day of interviews there. When I arrive, I expect to find the team ... looking pretty much the same as it did Wednesday.
Yeah, Steve Smith left to sign with the Eagles. No, that's not a good thing for the Giants, who'd hoped to re-sign him. But they were already preparing for life without him, since they didn't expect him to return from his knee injury and contribute right away. It's a tough break for the Giants, who haven't had a very successful free-agency period. It's another score for the Eagles, who have had the most successful one of any team in the league. But I think it's easy to lose sight of the fact that not every team has to kill it in free agency in order to be a good team.
I get called out here very often for being only negative/never positive about the Giants. This criticism is unfair and inaccurate, of course, and I fully expect this missive to be forgotten the next time a Giants fan wants to get on me for writing something about the team that isn't 100 percent positive. But the Giants, remember, won 10 games last year. Their starting lineup is loaded with very good players on offense and defense. Eli Manning is a top-10 quarterback, Hakeem Nicks is emerging as a top young receiver and they remain stacked in the running game. The defensive line, led by Justin Tuck, is also deep and talented, and the starting secondary looks stellar in practice. If they keep their key guys healthy, the fact that they couldn't get anything done in free agency shouldn't stop them from being a playoff contender.
Are there concerns? Of course there are. There are unknowns at tight end, and No. 3 receiver, and left tackle and linebacker. There's little depth behind that starting secondary and in other key spots on the roster. It's entirely possible that the cap concerns that cost them Smith, Kevin Boss, Plaxico Burress and anyone else they were hoping to get rise up and hurt them at some point in the season.
But that's not what's guaranteed to happen. The Giants believe in grooming and developing their own players. And if they've done a good job of grooming William Beatty, Jason Pierre-Paul, Travis Beckum, Linval Joseph, Domenik Hixon and guys like that, then that'll mean they didn't have as much work to do in free agency in the first place. It's a lot to count on, but that's where the Giants are right now. Some of the young guys who've been working their way toward starter's roles have to be ready to take them on. If they're not, the Giants could have problems. But if they are, there are enough established good players on the team to shake off an unsuccessful summer and still have a successful autumn.
Ralph Vacchiano continues to believe that Osi Umenyiora's visit to a knee specialist today portends an end to his contract dispute with the Giants. Ralph could be right, but as he points out, there's a chance the specialist backs up Umenyiora's claims of a knee injury, in which case the stalemate continues and things get uglier before they get better. Umenyiora is without a leg to stand on in this dispute, and it's possible he has come (or is coming) to the realization that it's time to let it go and get back on the field. But we'll see what the doctor says.
There is opportunity in the Giants' receiving corps right now, and Darius Reynaud had the best practice of anyone Wednesday. Mike Garafolo spoke with Reynaud about what drives him. (I mean what drives Reynaud, not Garafolo. It's rage that drives Garafolo. Pure rage. And coffee.)
Posted 12 August 2011 - 09:57 AM
BY Christian Red
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
While free-agent wide receiver Steve Smith celebrated being the latest player to join Philadelphia's "Dream Team," Giants GM Jerry Reese Thursday tried to douse the flames of discontent among Big Blue fans and, more important, the coach who works under him.
"It seems like people are in a little bit of a panic about - the perception is, we're not doing a lot," said Reese, with perhaps the understatement of the year. "We had a game plan. We're sticking to our game plan."
That plan did not originally entail Smith signing with an NFC East rival, but Reese said a "responsible offer" was made to Smith, one that took into consideration his recovery from microfracture surgery on his left knee in December.
But while Reese tried to paint a positive picture of the front office's recent moves, Tom Coughlin fumed about the amount of talent already gone via free agency, including Smith and tight end Kevin Boss. Coughlin publicly directed his ire at Smith's camp for not giving the Giants a chance to make a counteroffer once the Eagles entered the fray. The coach added that he expected Smith to "be a Giant all the way" and that "it causes concern" that his roster is losing valuable weapons on a regular basis.
"There are some disappointing factors involved, which I'm not going to get into," Coughlin said of the Smith situation. "I am upset. So is everybody. It's like lining up for the race, you're in the locker room, and nobody tells you the race is going to be run. That's the disappointing thing here. I don't believe we were given the opportunity to do what we could do. We were never brought into the discussion."
In Philly, Smith said the Eagles "have been involved pretty diligently for weeks now, talking to my agent (Ben Dogra). We were just waiting, waiting to see what's going to happen with the Giants. I don't know what happened there. I'm just fortunate that Philadelphia, such a great team, wanted me."
Reese said Smith did a "tremendous" job while with the Giants - including his 2009 season when he caught a team-record 107 passes for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns and earned a Pro Bowl selection - but that his departure was part of the "dog-eat-dog situation in free agency."
Reese outlined some of the team's offseason priorities - getting center David Baas, re-signing running back Ahmad Bradshaw - but Giants fans may already feel like Reese got inhaled by the splashy moves teams such as the Eagles completed.
"We're not looking to go out and make every sexy splash that can be made," Reese said. "It's free agency. Guys leave. That's the way it is. Nobody really owes you anything. Steve moved on. We're happy for him. I hope he gets healthy and plays for a long time. We have good receivers here, still, accomplished receivers in Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham - 2,000 yards together, 20 touchdowns. That's a lot of production."
Coughlin said he understood Smith to be "four to six weeks" from being able to practice, but the Eagles seemed to feel it was worth the risk to ink a one-year deal worth $4 million - $2 million guaranteed. It opens the door for players such as Domenik Hixon (who missed last year with a torn ACL) and Devin Thomas to prove they are just as dangerous a threat catching Eli Manning passes.
Not everyone was lamenting the loss of Smith. Running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive end Justin Tuck praised him, but remained confident that the puzzle pieces were still there to make a return to the playoffs.
"I think a lot of people, including (the media) and fans around the country, and around the world for that matter, are going to be shocked at this football team that we're going to put on the field," said Jacobs, adding that he personally restructured his contract so Bradshaw could be re-signed. Tuck said all the hype down the Turnpike is just that - hype.
"When have names won a game? Philly and everybody else - you're giving them the Super Bowl already. They ain't played a game, either," Tuck said. "Why aren't we in that same pot as far as having that chance?"
Reese said he was thick-skinned enough to handle the backlash from fans who think he hasn't hit paydirt with his non-moves, and is confident the Giants will prove doubters wrong.
"We'll play the hand we're dealt. We'll win with it," Reese said. "This is a big boy sport. If you have thin skin in this market, you're in the wrong job. I'm tougher than I look. Regardless of what happens, you have to answer questions. We won 10 games last year. We expect to build off that. We'll make the plays this time. We'll get in the playoffs. We'll make a run."
Read more: http://www.nydailyne...l#ixzz1Uo6gEWl8
Posted 14 August 2011 - 12:36 PM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Originally Published:Saturday, August 13th 2011, 11:39 PM
Updated: Sunday, August 14th 2011, 3:43 AM
CHARLOTTE - If Osi Umenyiora was still wondering why the Giants haven't been in a rush to cave in to his contract demands, he may have gotten an answer Saturday night.
It was only the preseason opener, but for the first few minutes it was the Jason Pierre-Paul show for the Giants, as the second-year defensive end gave a taste of what might be coming. He had two sacks in the Giants' otherwise unimpressive 20-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers, nearly had a third and forced a bad throw that turned into a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Michael Boley.
He was way too much for Jordan Gross, the Panthers' nine-year veteran left tackle, to handle. And he looked comfortable starting in Umenyiora's spot at right defensive end.
"I thought I played pretty good," Pierre-Paul said. "I knew what I was supposed to do and I was just out there executing. I came out, and I wasn't nervous. I knew the play calls, and I caught on very well. I just felt good. It felt very good."
The 22-year-old defensive end looked very good, too. He was the brightest spot for the Giants in a mostly dreary debut for a team that general manager Jerry Reese guaranteed is bound for the playoffs. It was as sloppy and disjointed as expected considering they've only had 11 practices over the last two weeks.
Playing behind a shaky new-look offensive line, Eli Manning was 4-for-9 for 36 yards, and while he wasn't sacked he was hit at least three times. In all, the offense, which Manning said was "never able to get into a great rhythm," gained just 131 first-half yards.
The defense was a little better, despite some shoddy tackling that allowed Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen to go 4-for-7 for 69 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Greg Olsen. But the defense did have four sacks in the first half, including those two by Pierre-Paul.
Of course, this was against a Panthers team that went 2-14 last year and gave up 50 sacks. But it was still impossible not to notice how physically dominant Pierre-Paul was. His impact started on the third play of the game, when he just blew around the 6-4, 305-pound Gross and was inches away from Clausen.
Feeling the pressure from Pierre-Paul and an incoming Justin Tuck from the other side, Clausen threw a terrible pass .toward his running back that landed right in the hands of Boley, who took off for the end zone.
"He really threw it right to me," Boley said. "It was a great way to start the preseason for the defense by putting some points on the board."
On the next series, Pierre-Paul nearly got a sack on second down, but was dragged down by Gross and fell at Clausen's feet. One play later, he made Gross look like a traffic cone by cutting inside, then outside, and then sliding right by him into Clausen's face.
That was quite a performance for the first seven plays of the game for a player who believes his potential for sacks this season is "unlimited." Later in the first quarter, he added his second sack by blowing around Gross again and catching Clausen on the run from behind.
His timing couldn't have been better, either, with Umenyiora expected back at practice this week after being told by a specialist in Atlanta that he doesn't need surgery on his ailing right knee. Umenyiora could return Monday, but also may wait to see if he can extract a little more money from the Giants.
Pierre-Paul, though, is giving the team a good reason not to give in to those demands.
Read more: http://www.nydailyne...l#ixzz1V0RD0j00
Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:31 AM
Updated Aug 14, 2011 7:24 PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)
Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Osi Umenyiora is returning to work for the New York Giants without a new contract.
In an email to the AP on Sunday evening, Umenyiora said he plans to practice on Monday at training camp, and that he will play this season under the terms of his current contract.
Umenyiora said the Giants offered to put incentives in his contact, which will pay him $7.1 million over the next two seasons, but he rejected them.
"No deal has been reworked," Umenyiora told The AP. "What has been offered has been unacceptable and shows they don't really respect the fact I sacrifice my health for the franchise. I will play under my current deal because I love and respect my coaches, my teammates, the fans, and myself. Not for those incentives."
The nine-year NFL veteran hasn't practiced since reporting to training camp on July 30, a day late. He failed to report on time because he alleged that general manager Jerry Reese told him after last season that the team would rework his contract.
Reese has refused to discuss what was said between them.
The 29-year-old Umenyiora shared the team lead with 11.5 sacks last season and he had a league-high 10 forced fumbles.
The Giants told Umenyiora not to practice after he reported to training camp, but a couple of days later the team said he wasn't working out because of a sore left knee.
Umenyiora gave indications on Wednesday that he might practice soon when he did some work with trainers simulating snaps. He went to Atlanta on Thursday and got a second opinion on his knee.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said on Sunday that team doctors cleared Umenyiora for practice, and hours later Umenyiora told The AP that he would take the field on Monday.
"I will play under my old deal," Umenyiora said.
Umenyiora's decision came one day after second-year defensive end pro Jason Pierre-Paul recorded two sacks and played an excellent game in the Giants' 20-10 loss to Carolina in the preseason opener.
Posted 17 August 2011 - 09:32 AM
Wednesday, August 17th 2011, 4:00 AM
The national media did not descend on East Rutherford Tuesday to chronicle the return of safety Deon Grant. His press conference wasn't carried live on the NFL Network. When he stepped to the podium, the crowd of reporters was not surprisingly small.
This wasn't Nnamdi Asomougha signing with the Eagles. Or Jason Babin. Or even Steve Smith.
"Nowhere near," Grant said with a smile. "Not in my head."
Instead, it was just another under-the-radar day for the Giants in an offseason during which at times they appeared to be at best standing still. Except that it was more than that to the team Grant was re-joining. He was hailed as a smart veteran, a good locker-room presence and a key player in their three-safety defense, so much so that several of his old teammates lobbied the team to re-sign him.
It may not have been flashy or glitzy, nor will it electrify a region, but the signing of a cagey, 32-year-old veteran was just the kind of small but significant signing the Giants felt that championship teams need.
"It don't matter at the end of the day what people focus on," said safety Antrel Rolle. "Everyone's going to try to go for that blockbuster team or the team that's making the most moves in the offseason. It happens that way each and every year.
"But we can't really worry too much about the outside. Our team is going to be great. We're going to be as good as we want to be. We're going to be a better defense than we were even last year."
It's easy to forget after an offseason filled with so much doom and gloom on the heels of their collapse at the end of the 2010 season, but the Giants' defense was actually pretty good last year. It ranked seventh overall in the NFL, fifth with 46 sacks and it tied for first in the NFL by forcing 39 turnovers.
Grant alone doesn't make the Giants dramatically better, especially since their other big offseason move on defense was losing starting defensive tackle Barry Cofield to the Redskins. But remember, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka is healthy again and he was their best defensive player for three games before injuring his neck. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul didn't put everything together until late last season. Rolle said the entire defense was often tripped up by the "mental gymnastics" of trying to learn the aggressive scheme being taught by then-new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
What Grant adds to that theoretically improved mix is what linebacker Kawika Mitchell added in 2007 - a signing that may seem insignificant, but could pay big dividends later. He's not a star, but the Giants have plenty of those from Rolle, to cornerback Corey Webster, to a 1-2 punch at end in Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck.
Dream Teams are nice, but role players are valuable, too.
"I thought 'Dream Team' was played when it's All-Star time," Grant said Tuesday. "I ain't never seen a 'Dream Team' during the regular season."
Grant hinted Tuesday that he turned down a chance to join the "Dream Team" in Philly, choosing instead to take care of the "unfinished business" from last season.
"That's the type of team that I love to face," Grant said. "I'm a competitive guy, so with them making all the additions they made I wanted to be on the other side of the ball to go against that."
He's not alone, either. Quietly, the Giants - especially the defensive players - are enjoying seeing all the hype at the other end of the Turnpike. They love how everyone is in a panic that they've lost two old, injured offensive lineman, a tight end who had 35 catches, and a receiver who might not be able to play until October or later.
Meanwhile, the NFL's seventh-ranked defense just keeps flying under the radar, embracing its role as an underdog, and eager to take its shot at the NFL's version of the Miami Heat.
"Dallas was the underdog (in the NBA Finals)," Grant said. "So that's a good thing."
Posted 21 August 2011 - 01:55 PM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Sunday, August 21st 2011, 4:00 AM
After Osi Umenyiora decided to have knee surgery on Friday, Tom Coughlin sought out his replacement for a brief chat. He wanted to let Jason Pierre-Paul know what he expected out of his newest defensive starter.
"Basically, just do what I do," the second-year defensive end said. "He told me to step it up."
It seemed almost matter-of-fact to the promising 22-year-old second-year pro, but it could be a heavy burden to step in for a two-time Pro Bowler. With Umenyiora out at least the rest of training camp and possibly until October, Pierre-Paul will be filling in for him at right end for the Giants.
That means he'll be replacing a player who had 11-1/2 sacks last year.
If Pierre-Paul is fazed by that at all, it wasn't apparent Saturday, nor does he seem fazed by the expectations he's created.
He excited everyone with the way he played with 4-1/2 sacks over the final six games last season, and he even had his teammates buzzing after his dominant, two-sack performance in limited action in the Giants' first preseason game.
Some people have even wondered if Pierre-Paul is going to be so good that Umenyiora won't be able to get his old job back when he returns. Pierre-Paul dismissed that talk and said a starting job for him is for "somewhere down the line." He has no worries about unreasonably high expectations, either.
"The expectations are going to be high," he said. "You've just got to play to your full ability."
If he does that, then maybe the Giants won't miss Umenyiora - at least if you listen to his teammates, who continue to be amazed by the 6-5, 278-pounder from South Florida.
"To be a guy that big and be that athletic is amazing," defensive tackle Chris Canty said. "I mean, you won't find too many guys walking around that are his size and can move like he can move. He's just unbelievable. But I knew that as soon as he got here.
"And he seems like he's transitioning from being a rookie and not really knowing what's going on, to understanding some more about the game. And with his understanding getting better his production is going to get better."
It has to because with Umenyiora out, the Giants' defensive end rotation is suddenly thin. Coughlin said that Mathias Kiwanuka will remain primarily a linebacker (though he will line up as an end on passing downs). That leaves Dave Tollefson, a five-year veteran with five career sacks, who wasn't re-signed by the Giants until Aug. 6. Even he wasn't sure if his snaps would increase, given how much potential Pierre-Paul has.
And the more Pierre-Paul plays now, the better it might be for the Giants. Because as Tuck reminded everyone, Umenyiora will eventually be back.
"Honestly, this could be a win-win for us," Tuck said. "We know when Osi comes back, depending on how his knee reacts, we know what he can do. And we believe in what JPP can do. The more he gets out there and goes against the 1s, I think he's going to get more and more confident in his abilities."
And what if Pierre-Paul turns out to be too good to take out of the starting lineup when Umenyiora returns? Pierre-Paul said he has no problem being a .valuable reserve.
"It don't matter to me," he said. "Whatever happens, when I get in the game I'm going to do what I can do, and that's play great football. Yeah (I want to start), somewhere down the line. But I'm young. I'm still learning the game. All I can do is put a smile on my face and play."
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Posted 23 August 2011 - 09:01 AM
Updated Aug 23, 2011 2:38 AM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD,N.J. (AP)
The New York Giants were nearly perfect in all phases of the game against the Chicago Bears, and it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the season-ending knee injury to starting cornerback Terrell Thomas.
Thomas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee with 22 seconds left in the first half Monday night, and the injury to New York's leading tackler last season overshadowed an impressive 41-13 preseason win.
"Any injury, you feel sorry for a fellow teammate," said veteran cornerback Aaron Ross, who will move into the starting lineup for Thomas. "ACL, or any injury with the knee, is serious. Terrell is a big part of this defense. Losing him is a big hurt to the team."
The rest of the game was outstanding The offense woke up, the defense was solid and special teams played a key role in helping the Giants (1-1) bounce back from a so-so performance against Carolina with a very good effort against the Bears (1-1).
"We were going against a good defense," said Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who completed 8 of 16 passes for 78 yards. "I was pleased with a couple of our drives and what we were able to accomplish."
Special teams played a major role.
Brandon Jacobs scored on an 18-yard run after a 73-yard kickoff return by Devin Thomas, and Domenik Hixon caught a 5-yard touchdown pass after rookie linebacker Greg Jones blocked a punt late in the first half.
"We played better," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We improved. We made a lot of big plays tonight. I was glad to see so many guys make strong contributions. Defensively, we did a good job all the way through against their 1s. A lot of guys made strong contributions on special teams, especially in the first half."
David Carr, who is battling Sage Rosenfels for the backup job behind Manning, threw for two touchdowns, with the second covering 17 yards to Daniel Coats in the fourth quarter.
D.J. Ware scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter to give New York a 27-6 lead and rookie halfback Da'Rel Scott had a 97-yard run in the closing minutes after cancer survivor Mark Herzlich intercepted a pass near the goal line.
Robbie Gould had field goals of 23 and 42 yards for the Bears, who struggled again on offense despite having Jay Cutler (12 of 21 for 171 yards) play the entire first half.
Chicago got its only touchdown in the final minute on a 1-yard run by Kahlil Bell, but the Bears offensive line showed improvement, allowing only one sack after giving up nine in a win over Buffalo last week.
"We definitely haven't had many nights like this," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "We have to tackle, we have to play better, and I better stop now, because there's a lot of things we didn't do right on defense. But we'll move on."
Thomas, in the final year of his contract, was hurt on the very next play from scrimmage after Hixon caught his touchdown pass. It was Hixon's first catch at the New Meadowlands Stadium since he tore an ACL in a practice in June 2010.
Down 20-6 with 35 seconds to play, Cutler went back to pass from his own 23 and rolled a little to his left. Thomas came on a blitz and Jason Pierre-Paul rushed from his end spot. Cutler got the pass off and Thomas and Pierre-Paul collided, with the second-year end hitting Thomas around the knee from an awkward angle.
Thomas went down and he started hobbling when he got back up. He quickly went down the artificial surface and was treated by trainers and medical personnel for a couple of minutes. When he got up, he walked gingerly to the locker room. The suddenness of the diagnosis stunned his coach and teammates.
"I don't think he's someone you can just replace," safety Antrel Rolle said. "You have to understand this comes with the game of football. It comes with the territory. It leaves room for other guys to step up. It's going to alter our defense a little bit. We can't hang our heads. We still have a lot of football to play."
Thomas is the fourth Giants cornerback to get hurt this year. Backup Bruce Johnson tore an Achilles' tendon early in camp. First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara broke his foot and won't be available until about mid-October. Free agent Brian Witherspoon sprained his left knee against the Bears and will have an MRI on Tuesday.
Ware's touchdown came a play after a challenge by Coughlin resulted in a fumble call being reversed. Rhys Lloyd added field goals of 25 and 37 yards, subbing for the injured Lawrence Tynes.
The teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter before Thomas' big return set up Jacobs' go-ahead touchdown on a play Manning (8 of 16 for 78) changed at the line of scrimmage. Jacobs finished with 48 yards on six carries.
"We just wanted to hit it hard, at the point where the blockers made contact," Thomas said, "so you could get in there when they move the guy out of the way and keep going."
After failing to get a first down on either of their first two series, the Giants took a 3-0 lead by holding the ball for almost 7 1-2 minutes before settling for Lloyd's 25-yard field goal. The key play on the 11-play drive was a 21-yard fourth-down from Manning to Victor Cruz that gave New York a first down at the Bears 11.
The Bears tied the game on the next series with a quick six-play drive that started with Cutler passes of 37 yards to Devin Hester and 42 to Matt Forte. Gould kicked a 23-yard field goal after the drive stalled at the 5-yard line.
Cutler was knocked out of last year's regular-season game against the Giants with a concussion on a night when the offensive line allowed 10 sacks, including nine in the first half.
"We took a step in the right direction," Cutler said. "We know these guys can run block. That's not the issue. So, we wanted to give them some opportunities to pass block and we showed some signs."
Posted 25 August 2011 - 09:29 AM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITERS
Originally Published:Wednesday, August 24th 2011, 8:58 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 25th 2011, 1:39 AM
The new stadium at the Meadowlands may finally have a name, but that won't stop the Jets and Giants from fighting about who gets to call it home.
That old battle was reignited Wednesday, when Justin Tuck and Santonio Holmes traded barbs between East Rutherford and Florham Park, N.J. It began with an innocent question to Tuck about what he thought of MetLife buying the naming rights to what was previously called New Meadowlands Stadium.
"I'm glad MetLife came forward as a sponsor," said Tuck, the Giants' defensive end, "but to me it'll always be Giants Stadium."
Countered Holmes: "It's the Meadowlands. It's the home of the New York Jets. That's all I have to say about that."
Oh, chances are that's not all that anyone will have to say about that, especially with the teams' annual preseason game looming at newly named MetLife Stadium on Saturday night. The teams have fought over ownership of the city and their shared stadium for years, ever since the Jets moved from Shea Stadium in 1984.
They got nasty about it at times last year, especially when the two teams squabbled behind the scenes over which would get to host the first game at their shared, $1.7 billion stadium. The dispute got so ugly that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell supposedly held a secret coin flip - without team representatives present - before awarding the first game to the Giants.
He gave the Jets the first preseason game and let them host the first Monday night game. But that didn't prevent them from feeling like visitors in their own home.
Rex Ryan, their bold, brash coach, has worked hard to change that feeling as he's brought the Jets to two straight AFC championship games. He's been open about trying to paint New York green. In his book, "Play Like You Mean It," he even made it clear that the Jets are now the "big brother" in New York and "are going to remain the better team for the next 10 years."
"When people ask me what it's like to share New York with the Giants," Ryan wrote, "my response is always 'I am not sharing it with them - they are sharing it with me.'"
Asked if Ryan's presence and words have added intensity to the rivalry, Tuck said they hadn't - at least not in an otherwise meaningless preseason game.
"The whole talking thing is just more fun for me than anything else," Tuck said. "We're going to go ahead and try to win the football game, you can believe that. But is it more intense than the rivalry with the Jets was before Rex Ryan got here? In a preseason game, no.
"But come that game right before Christmas, that might be a different story."
Ah yes, the Christmas Eve showdown, when the Giants and Jets face off in a regular-season game. That's when this rivalry could really get ugly. Not that it hasn't gotten ugly before - like last year, when Eli Manning took a brutal chain of hits from Jets linebacker Calvin Pace and safety Jim Leonhard and ended up with a bloody, three-inch gash on his head.
Asked if he remembered that hit, Tuck said "We definitely do," although he added that nobody thought it was a dirty hit.
Not that it matters. Just like it doesn't matter that the Giants and Jets weren't really fighting against each other to sign receiver Plaxico Burress. All that matters is that the Jets got the Giants' old Super Bowl hero. That's just another bit of spice added to the rivalry.
Although maybe "spice" isn't the right word.
"A little bitterness there?" said Giants receiver Devin Thomas, a newcomer to town. "Oh yeah, I know there's bitterness in this crosstown rivalry. I'm glad to be a part of it."
- with Stefan Bondy
Posted 29 August 2011 - 09:20 AM
Monday, August 29th 2011, 4:00 AM
Now that Hurricane Irene has stepped aside, the Jets and Giants finally get to put on their dress rehearsal for the season Monday night in what will be the first of two meetings in the next four months.
The second one counts. Monday night's does not count in the standings, but the third preseason game of the summer is always when coaches find out the most about the team they are taking into the season. And with the lockout wiping out the offseason, Tom Coughlin and Rex Ryan still have a lot to find out.
Until Irene put things in perspective, the Giants and Jets players were squabbling last week over who owns MetLife Stadium. The reality is Woody Johnson owns 50% and John Mara and Steve Tisch own the other 50% of the $1.7 billion building. They each paid too much to say one team owns it.
After Monday night, the Giants and Jets meet again in the 15th game of the season on Dec. 24. New York football fans can only dream about a third meeting on Feb. 5 in Indianapolis, but it's not likely this will be the year the Jets and Giants meet in the Super Bowl.
If one of them gets there for Super Bowl XLVI, it figures to be the Jets. They have been building for this moment the last two years by making it to the AFC Championship Game. The Giants have not made the playoffs the last two seasons and have not won a postseason game since Super Bowl XLII.
NJ TRANSIT TRAINS NOT STOPPING AT MEADOWLANDS STATION FOR GIANTS-JETS
In fact, in Coughlin's first seven seasons with the Giants, the Super Bowl season is the only year in which he's won a playoff game. Back when Coughlin was hired in 2004, the Giants sure would have signed off on one Super Bowl championship in seven years, but his teams have underachieved - other than 2007, of course.
The Jets and Giants have always approached their preseason meetings with an obvious dislike for each other. Last year, they played in the first preseason game rather than the third so they could open their new stadium together. The intensity for the first practice game was unprecedented. Eli Manning wound up needing 12 stitches to repair a three-inch gash in his forehead.
"I think there will be plenty of energy in this game," Ryan said. "I would definitely agree with you on last year when we played them in the preseason. It seemed like it was a big deal, that there was a lot of hitting going on, and guys were getting after it. It was good. It was a preseason game, but it was still amped up about as good as you can get for a preseason game."
The goal for Coughlin and Ryan: Get their first units ready for Sept. 11 and get them out of there healthy. In Giants-Jets games over the years, Jason Sehorn, Chad Pennington and Osi Umenyiora have all suffered serious injuries.
The lockout already made this a condensed preseason, and the hurricane compressed it even further. This game was originally supposed to be played at 7 p.m. Saturday. Then it was moved up to 2 p.m., until it was finally postponed until 7 p.m. Monday night. That makes for a quick week.
The Giants play in New England on Thursday and the Jets play home against the Eagles on Thursday. The starters Monday night will likely play into the third quarter. Then each team will have no more than light workouts Tuesday and Wednesday before playing again Thursday. Any thought Coughlin and Ryan might have had about letting their starters play any significant time in the last preseason game is probably gone with such a quick turnaround.
Under normal circumstances, coaches hesitate to play their starters in the final preseason game. But they might have looked to get them some extra work this year because of the lockout. But with the Giants and Jets playing Monday night and then again in 72 hours, it would be foolish to put them back on the field so soon. That puts pressure on the first-team offenses and defenses not only spending quality time on the field Monday night, but playing well, too. The next time, on Sept. 11, is for real.
"That's why this game is so important," Manning said.
After what the Giants went through last year with their layover in Kansas City before their game was switched from Minneapolis to Detroit when the Metrodome roof collapsed, and then getting stuck in Green Bay for two days because of the snow in New York, this was easy.
"Listen, there is nothing we can do about the current set of circumstances," Coughlin said. "We have to adjust and adapt. We have been evaluating our roster since the start of training camp. All we can do is take what we have had in terms of the totality of the preseason and make our decisions based on that. There really has been no precedent for this entire preseason."
But there is a precedent for the players caring about this game. "It's a city rivalry and something that we take seriously here and you want to win the city, you want to win your division and you want to win the Super Bowl," Mark Sanchez said.
None of that will happen Monday night.
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Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:59 AM
Tuesday, August 30th 2011, 4:00 AM
Eli Manning has not made the Giants' tumultuous post-lockout summer any easier. He is playing lousy and is running out of time to fix it.
It's bad enough the Giants have struggled after the lockout with so many injuries and so many defections, but now they have to be worried about Manning. In three preseason games, he's been on the field for 18 possessions. He has not thrown one touchdown pass and has led the offense to just 16 points.
He put up nothing against the Panthers in five possessions; 13 against the Bears in five possessions in a game the Giants went on to score 41; and, in Monday night's 17-3 loss to the Jets, he had eight possessions, scored three points and couldn't get the Giants into the end zone against the Jets' second-string defense after having a first-and-goal at the 7-yard line in the third quarter.
He was 15-for-30 for 200 yards with two interceptions. He's not likely to play Thursday night in New England. So he goes into the season with no momentum.
Is Manning worried? "I'm fine," he said. "No one ever counts any touchdown passes you throw in preseason."
It was the end to an eventful weekend for Manning. He had to evacuate his apartment in Hoboken because of Hurricane Irene. He returned Monday morning after staying at a friend's house. After growing up in New Orleans, he knows how to handle these things.
"Everything was fine," he said. "We have electricity. No water. Everything is good."
Everything is not good, however, with the way Manning is playing.
"Eli's one of those guys, he's harder on himself than anyone else is going to be," Justin Tuck said. "He'll learn from this, but that's a good defense. We drove the ball well but the turnovers, they will kill you. He knows that better than anyone. But I'm not worried about it. I know he's going to come to play when we kick the season off and he's going to be one of the reasons that we have a great year."
Manning has been the MVP in the Super Bowl, so there is no reason for the Giants to panic just because he's looked so out of rhythm in the preseason. But he's got to get better for the Giants to have a chance to make the playoffs. He tossed two bad interceptions when the Jets were blitzing in the first half. The turnovers were a flashback to last season when he led the NFL with a career-high 25 picks.
Earlier this summer, in a rare display of ego, he put himself in Tom Brady's class, declared that he's a top five QB and not a 25-interception quarterback. So far this summer he seems to have overrated himself. He's in his eighth season and still has not learned how to take care of the ball. Sometimes Manning is just too anxious to risk a turnover vs. the reward of a big play.
Manning has not been sharp. It could be a residual effect from the lockout. The workouts he organized during the lockout were good for team bonding, but did little for the Giants on the field. He has never been the most accurate thrower and the time away from his receivers has been hard to make up in just four weeks.
Consider that just three seasons have passed since the Super Bowl and he's got a new cast of receivers and tight ends. Plaxico Burress, who was shut out Monday night, ended his Giants career by shooting himself in the leg. Super Bowl hero David Tyree never played another game for the Giants. Amani Toomer is gone. Kevin Boss and Steve Smith left as free agents. Manning's chemistry with Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham is still a work in progress.
His first interception went over the head of Victor Cruz, who didn't come open as quickly as Manning had anticipated. The ball went right to safety Jim Leonhard. The second was a bad throw on the sideline to Ahmad Bradshaw that was intercepted by linebacker David Harris.
Manning was tossing balls into the ground. His best drive came on his only possession of the third quarter. But it came against the Jets backups. He led the Giants from their 15 to a first down at the Jets' 7. But he wasn't able to connect with Manningham on a fade pass in the end zone against backup cornerback Donald Strickland. On second down, Danny Ware picked up one yard. Manning threw to Cruz for five yards to the 1. Ware was stopped for no gain on fourth down. The failure to complete the pass to Manningham makes you wonder if the Giants would have scored on the play if they had brought back Burress.
I asked Tom Coughlin if he's concerned with what he's seen from Manning in the preseason games. "I'm not concerned," he said. "Would I have liked to have done better? Yeah. I'd like to think we would have put some points on the board. Until tonight, he's been very good with the ball, very conservative with the ball."
The Giants open the season in 12 days in Washington.
"Everybody is ready to get the real games," Manning said.
Manning against John Beck or Rex Grossman should be a quarterback mismatch - if he can put an end to his lousy summer.
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Posted 02 September 2011 - 10:14 AM
Youngmisuk By Ohm Youngmisuk
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Standing on crutches, staring down at the visitors locker room floor at Gillette Stadium, an emotional Clint Sintim tried to come to grips with his second season-ending injury in nearly 10 months.
Choking back tears, the linebacker said he knew right away that he had suffered a serious injury when he ruptured the patellar tendon -- and likely tore the surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament -- in his right knee in the third quarter of the New York Giants' 18-17 victory over the Patriots in the preseason finale.
"I worked really hard to get back," Sintim said. "It's just unfortunate, but that's the way football is. I'm going to give myself a couple of days and get back on the grind."
Sintim, who tore his ACL in December, was hoping to prove he was worth the second-round pick the Giants invested in him in 2009. General manager Jerry Reese had said during the offseason that the team wanted to see Sintim finally show what he can do.
Reese's first-round pick in 2009, Hakeem Nicks, is poised to perhaps take the next step in becoming an elite wide receiver. And the other second-round pick that year, Will Beatty, will enter the season as the starting left tackle.
Despite being less than a year removed from an ACL injury, Sintim looked good in camp and was slated to enter the season as Mathias Kiwanuka's backup at outside linebacker.
"He looked pretty good," linebacker Michael Boley said. "He was showing some pretty good explosion. He did a good job of relearning the system and implementing himself into it. It is tough to lose a guy like him."
Sintim is just the latest defender to go down with a season-ending injury this preseason, joining cornerbacks Terrell Thomas (ACL), Bruce Johnson (Achilles) and Brian Witherspoon (ACL) and second-round pick Marvin Austin (pectoral).
The Giants also will start the season without first-round pick Prince Amukamara (broken foot) and probably defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who is still recovering from knee surgery.
Coach Tom Coughlin said Sintim's injury was a hard one to swallow after seeing how hard the linebacker worked to get back.
"You got to feel badly for a guy that is coming back off a serious knee [injury], worked his tail off, really didn't say a word the whole preseason, just did what he had to do and worked on the field," Coughlin said. "It's devastating. He will bounce back, but to have to go through what he's got to go through in terms of the rehab, we feel real bad for Clint."
No one knows what will happen with Sintim, now that the former Virginia standout has suffered two knee injuries in less than a year.
[+] EnlargeMark Herzlich
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesMark Herzlich is one of the rookie linebackers aiming to stick with the Giants.
But with every injury comes opportunity, as Justin Tuck likes to say often. Sintim's injury opens another spot for one of the many young linebackers trying to make the squad; the Giants have to cut their roster down to 53 on Saturday.
After starters Kiwanuka, Boley and Jonathan Goff, the Giants have Phillip Dillard, Spencer Paysinger, Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams, Adrian Tracy and fan favorite Mark Herzlich.
Dillard and Paysinger are on the second team, and Jones likely will make the squad after impressing the coaching staff at third-team middle linebacker and on special teams. He was credited with a sack and nearly had a fumble recovery against the Patriots.
And Williams, the Giants' other sixth-round linebacker selection, had his best game of the preseason as he was credited with six tackles and three sacks.
Herzlich is the most intriguing linebacker in camp as he continues his inspiring comeback from a rare form of bone cancer. The former Boston College star celebrated his 24th birthday in New England with a sack in his final audition for the team.
"It is starting to feel natural," said Herzlich, who missed the entire 2009 season. "For a while last season, it was kind of like, all right, my brain thinks I can get there but my body is not really getting there. And now that it is all coming together, I want to come around the edge and I am coming around the edge. So it's progress."
Herzlich, though, takes nothing for granted. Prior to the cancer, he was one of the best linebackers in college football. This spring, he was passed over by every team in the draft. Now he hopes he won't be passed over by the Giants this Saturday.
"Outstanding young man, a special guy to work with, does whatever you ask him to do, loves to play, loves to practice," Coughlin said of Herzlich. "And he has been impressive in the preseason."
Sintim's injury might help Herzlich's cause. Then again, it might not. And Herzlich knows that.
"Nothing is guaranteed," Herzlich said. "It might not be there tomorrow."
Sintim also has learned this the hard way as he embarks on yet another grueling rehab process.
Posted 12 September 2011 - 02:43 PM
Monday, September 12th 2011, 4:00 AM
LANDOVER, Md. - There couldn't have been a better NFL season opener on this somber 10th anniversary of 9/11 than two long-standing division rivals representing two cities with similar scars on landmarks and psyches.
After the coin toss by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, after the American flag that covered the entire football field was unfurled and regathered, after a stirring national anthem by R&B singer Ne-Yo, the crowd at FedEx Field turned its attention to the Giants and Redskins - the same way that sports had become a balm for an ailing nation 10 years ago.
Tom Coughlin, whose son, Tim, had escaped the second tower on the day of the attacks a decade ago, had wondered how his team would handle the emotions of the day. He didn't have to worry about emotions as much as how the team would absorb its injuries, particularly on defense, that ruined the preseason.
Those issues carried into the regular season in a 28-14 loss to the Redskins before 80,121 Sunday. All the things the Giants had lost - a cohesive offensive line, a reliable third receiver, a solid secondary and fearsome pass rush - came back to bite them. And whatever strengths they thought they had - a veteran quarterback with a big-play receiver and a punishing rushing attack - were negated by mistakes (a blocked field goal and an interception returned for a TD) and ineptitude on third down (1-for-10).
After losing to the Redskins, perceived to be the weakest team in the NFC East, this harsh reality is staring the Giants in the face - there are no gimmes on the schedule.
"To sit here and say we played well enough to win the football game, I can't do that," said Giants guard David Diehl. "We had points where we could have taken over, and done certain things to be more aggressive to keep that momentum and keep drives going and we didn't do it."
Coughlin, who was wearing an FDNY hat, said Big Blue wanted to honor those lost on 9/11 and their families with a victory. All the Giants could do was watch the Redskins grab that part of the day, too.
Coughlin, to his credit, did not use injuries as an excuse. The Giants had plenty of hands on deck and plenty of opportunities to beat the Redskins.
"We didn't make the plays. Plain and simple. They made the plays," said Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie.
That falls on Eli Manning, who had the sort of mixed day that is fast becoming his trademark.
He hooked up with receiver Hakeem Nicks on a 68-yard pass play that set up the Giants' first TD - a 2-yard run that Manning took into the end zone on a perfectly executed bootleg. In the third quarter, Manning threw a pass intended for Nicks that was tipped into the air by Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who caught his own deflection and took it back nine yards for a TD that gave Washington a 21-14 lead. Manning thought Kerrigan was going to be taken down to the ground on a block.
You could say that the defense missed Justin Tuck, who was scratched before the game with lingering pain in his neck from a preseason injury. But the defensive line did bare its teeth when Jason Pierre-Paul and Dave Tollefson came up with back-to-back sacks in the third quarter to move the Redskins out of scoring position. Paul had another sack and a forced fumble that was recovered by linebacker Michael Boley. But the Giants couldn't convert as Lawrence Tyne's 39-yard field goal attempt was low and blocked.
Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, who threw for 305 yards, two TDs and no interceptions, riddled the Giants' reconfigured secondary. The Giants' corners were playing soft, giving too much cushion. Cornerback Aaron Ross, who is filling in for Terrell Thomas (out for the season with a knee injury), was burned a few times, including on a 6-yard TD reception by Anthony Armstrong in single coverage.
"We got a lot of work to do. We're still trying to add pieces to the puzzle," said Antrelle Rolle, who was called for a personal foul when he was called for leading with his helmet on a tackle that kept a Redskins scoring drive alive in the fourth quarter.
Tuck watched the game from the sideline in street clothes after doctors told him to rest up for next week. That helpless feeling soon gave way to that sinking feeling.
"We are resilient. We'll bounce back," Tuck said. "What better way than to be home on Monday night (against the Rams). If we can get some guys back we'll be back to full strength."
They will have to play this time. No more gimmes.
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Posted 12 September 2011 - 02:46 PM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
Long after most of the Giants had cleared out of the incredibly quiet visitors’ locker room tonight, Chris Canty’s voice began rising as he discussed what had just happened out on the field. There were times he looked like he was fighting back tears. Other times he just looked angry.
For the Bronx-born Canty it was just too much to take. A New York team isn’t supposed to play like that – not on a day that meant so much to so many of their fans.
“We don’t live in a bubble as professional athletes,” the defensive tackle said after the Giants opened the regular season with a 28-14 loss to the Redskins. “We know what 9/11 means to us, what it means to our fans, what it means to our city, what it means to this country. We represent the red, white and blue. And to go out there put that kind of performance out there is unacceptable to us.
“It’s unacceptable in every regard.”
It’s hard to find a better word to describe the loss than “unacceptable.” The offense was just as erratic as it was all summer, especially when it produced just 102 yards in the second half. Eli Manning, fresh off a 25-interception season and a summer in which he didn’t throw a single touchdown pass, was picked off on the first series of the third quarter by LB Ryan Kerrigan, who returned it for a nine-yard touchdown.
The offensive line got Manning sacked four times and hit at least seven other times. Antrel Rolle took a costly and dumb unnecessary roughness penalty that kept the Redskins’ last touchdown drive alive. And the defense in general was just torched by Rex Grossman – Rex Grossman! – who completed 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards and two touchdowns.
Oh, and there was a blocked field goal, too. And short-yardage runs were a disaster again. And Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon combined for two catches for 21 yards as the third receiver (both by Hixon). And Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for just 73 yards on 19 carries.
Shall I go on?
“Every time we took a step forward we took two back,” said defensive end Dave Tollefson. “It’s not a very complicated story, you know?”
“We just continued to make the kind of mistakes that Coach Coughlin told us not to make,” Canty added. “At some point we need to listen.”
Nicks goes for X-Rays
Giants WR Hakeem Nicks, who had a very quiet seven catches for 122 yards – including one 68-yarder that set up a touchdown – was spotted coming back from the X-Ray room after the game. Earlier in the game he briefly left the field and appeared to be holding his wrist.
Nicks said the X-Rays were on his wrist and that they were negative. Later the Giants clarified to say the X-Rays were really of Nicks’ knee. Those also were apparently negative.
Tuck planning a Week 2 return
DE Justin Tuck said he was planning to play tonight, but he was overruled by Dr. Russell Warren, the Giants’ team physician, after his sore neck was examined before the game.
“He saw some things in my neck that he wasn’t real excited about,” Tuck said. “He said, ‘We would rather have you out one week than re-aggravate it and go through this process again and be out for a month.’”
Tuck, who has been bothered by a neck issue since he suffered a stinger against the Jets on Aug. 29, said it’s still not serious and it’s all muscular. “It just hasn’t responded as well as I’d like,” he added.
Asked if he’ll play next Monday night against the St. Louis Rams in the Giants’ home opener, Tuck said “That’s the plan. It’s going to be pretty hard to hold me out two weeks in a row.”
Controversial call on Rolle
On the Redskins’ final touchdown drive that put the game away, the Giants had stopped them two yards short of a first down near midfield until S Antrel Rolle was flagged for unnecessary roughness on TE Fred Davis.
Tom Coughlin said “That was a very difficult call for me” and said he thought the officials may have flagged Rolle for a helmet-to-helmet hit. If that was the case, Rolle called that “ridiculous”.
“I definitely didn’t lead with my helmet,” Rolle said. “To say I led with my helmet is definitely crazy. I’ve never, ever tackled any opponent by leading with my helmet.”
I’m going to have to review this one. I’m not sure Rolle was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit. I didn’t hear the official and the stat sheet just says “unnecessary roughness.” It might be that Rolle led with his head – which I thought he did – and hit Davis hard when he was on the ground and could’ve just touched him down.
Tynes not 100 percent
K Lawrence Tynes said he’s still feeling some affects from the bruised thigh that kept him out the final three preseason games, and that his conditioning was such an issue he felt “gassed” after pre-game warmups.
“I’ve got some work to do,” he admitted. “My endurance is awful. After pregame I was gassed. It just seems like it’s going to take another couple of weeks to be back in kicking shape.”
None of that, though, had anything to do with his blocked 38-yard field goal – even though Coughlin indicated the block was the result of a low kick.
“It’s hard to tell in the heat of the moment,” Tynes said. “But I felt like I hit it pretty good.”
The rest of the story
-- TE Jake Ballard said he’s “fine” after bruising his hip while making a diving, 18-yard catch in the first half. He also had a 41-yarder over the middle. His brief absence at the end of the first half, though, was a problem. Bear Pascoe was the only other TE on the roster so OT Stacy Andrews had to play as a tight end for a couple of plays.
--WR Victor Cruz got the first shot at being the third receiver, though that may have been a technicality. Domenik Hixon ran out the first time the Giants went to a three-receiver set, but then Cruz came on and waved him off. It hurt, too, because Manning threw to Cruz … and he dropped the pass. Hixon got most of the time as the third receiver (I think) and caught two passes for 21 yards. Cruz was thrown to twice, but had no catches.
--Rookie MLB Greg Jones had four tackles in his debut. Fellow rookie LB Jacquain Williams replaced Jones on the field in nickel defense packages. … Rookie DE Justin Trattou, fresh off the practice squad, played sparingly in a rotation with Dave Tollefson and Jason Pierre-Paul. … Pierre-Paul was an underrated monster in this game, by the way, with two sacks, three tackles for losses, a forced fumble, and one other quarterback hit. … Rookie FB Henry Hynoski got the start. Bear Pascoe, last year’s FB, moved back to his old position and played in two-TE formations. … With Tuck out, DT Chris Canty joined QB Eli Manning and LS Zak DeOssie as the Giants’ captains.
--The Giants had beaten the Redskins six straight times and they had won on Opening Day three straight times. Both streaks dated back to 2007
Posted 16 September 2011 - 12:43 AM
It’s a little late this week due to my travelling back from the west coast, missing the game, having to re-watch it and being delayed a day — so just know that usually this post will come out Wednesdays after our initial gut checks have taken place, no matter if the Giants win or lose. The point is the NY Giants are always one of those teams that seem to be criticized by a stat line — with little to no analysis as to what’s going on behind the numbers. Here, we’ll always try to acknowledge that some stats speak for themselves, others have to be unpacked a bit more to tell the whole story. Here’s where we strive to get to the quantitative AND the qualitative meanings behind the stats for of each and every Giants game. So without further ado, here we go!
The Giants obviously struggled with offensive line issues, penalties, and it didn’t help matters by getting away from the run, everything we discussed Tuesday is still in play. Not scoring a single point in the second half is too much to ask of your defense, especially when you have a pick 6 going the other way. The Giants basically dug themselves a hole during the second half with mental mistakes and an overall lack of execution. Losing the 3rd and 4th quarter and scoring 14 total points is not going to get it done.
Now onto the team stats.
Starting with first downs. The Giants didn’t convert enough, the Redskins converted way too many especially on 1st and 2nd down. This stinks of unpreparedness and faulty execution by the Giants on both levels. One one hand, penalties and dropped passes dig your offense a hole. On the other hand, you’re defense isn’t within 5 yards of their man all game. How do you expect to stop the opposition?
I went over 3rd down in great detail earlier this week, and holding the Redskins to 33% is actually decent. The ultimate point you have to make is the defense cannot let first and second downs go uncontested, while at the same time the Giants offense cannot leave EVERYTHING up to third down. The Redskins did a good job of this, the Giants did not. Kevin Gilbride – take note. Run play action, get vertical early, use quick short passes to build report, be deceptive in your play calling. PLEASE.
Of course – you can have all the production in the world but penalties are never going to you win games. 8 penalties is a ridiculous number, not one more devastating than Antrel Rolle’s helmet into a defenseless receiver. That 15 yards and first down should have been a punt after a 4th and 2… the Giants had the Redskins stopped with time to tie the game. These mental mistakes CAN NOT CONTINUE, especially from veterans who should know better. And by the way, is it safe to assume that on 2nd and 20 the Giants are getting the ball to a running back? Just checking if I’m the only one that has that play call penciled in for 100% of the time.
I thought the Giants defense did a good job to limit Tim Hightower and the Redskins to just 2.8 yards per carry. He broke a couple of runs, but between 3 runs for first downs and 2.8 yards per — I think that’s something the Giants can hang their hat on. They can still buckle down on the run game defensively.
3.8 yard per carry for the Giants — we talked at length this preseason how the Giants needed to establish their running game early in this game. They did with success in the first half, then got away from it. I think the mix of snaps between Bradshaw and Jacobs was good, the overall numbers need to be increased next week though. 20 carries for Bradshaw, 10 for Jacobs. 0 from Ware until further notice, and maybe look at Da’Rel Scott as a screen option. I don’t want his legs getting banged up in the return game, but a finesse call like that bubble screen they sometimes run is perfect for Scott, who other teams will not have game planned for just yet. Hixon is the other guy I like there on the catch and run out of the screen.
Sacks — defense did well to get 4, offensive line did poorly to allow 4. The rookie DT shooting the A gap on David Baas was downright ugly. That cannot happen on a consistent basis. If Baas really is a liability in pass coverage and getting confused on his assignments, Eli is going to have to work on that 3 step drop a lot more.
That missed field goal, obviously it was a horribly low kick. That’s all on Tynes. I wonder if anyone is rethinking the Lloyd cut.
The touchdowns for the Giants, again too few on offense and too few on defense. I don’t mind Eli scrambling for the 1 TD, but I’m still nervous about that goose egg in the passing TD column. When the Giants are 25-30 yards out from the endzone in a game changing situation, that is a strength of the team. They’ve shown it since 2009, the Giants are more effective from the 25 yard line than they are from the 18. The Giants need to get Manningham and Nicks vertical in a hurry and take some shots over the top. Of course, it was good to see my polish brother Henry Hynoski get a shot to take it upfield, but he didn’t get the first down. Bungling the ensuing 3rd and short and field goal attempt is of course not how I wanted that “drive” to end up. A first down back shoulder throw down the sideline with Nicks or Manningham targeted is the kind aggressiveness I want to see there… if not a TD taking it to the 5 yard line and letting AB44 or BJ27 pound it in from there — that’s the Giants football I was looking for. Didn’t see it.
With that, onto the other offensive rankings.
I had predicted that Eli Manning would end with 200+ yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. And that’s essentially what happened. I would have liked more consistency from Eli, but week 1 I expected to see a lot more running game from the Giants to sustain drives. But the offense overall sputtered due to penalties and offensive line miscues, so aside from a couple of big plays and one sustained drive the offense really had minimal impact last Sunday.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs needed more carries on better sustained drives, simple as that. Penalties and mistakes by the offensive line kept them under productive. As for catching out of the backfield, good to see Hynoski get a rep. Bradshaw needs more looks, and a 10 yard gain on a 2nd and 20 doesn’t really count as I mentioned about. Still leaves a long first down bid and everyone knows where the ball is going. More deception will lead to better execution and bigger runs broken out of the backfield.
As for receivers, Hakeem Nicks as usual was the star, TE Jake Ballard was the surprise. Other than that I have a couple of of nit picks about the rest of the receivers. Why does Mario Manningham always seem to come up a yard short on his receptions for first downs? This is why we need a legitimate slot receiver to rely on to move the chains consistently. Without Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon needs to be that guy. The newly signed Brandon Stokley needs to be that guy. Mario Manningham and Victor Cruz are not that guy. Manningham is a wideout, period. End of story. If he goes down with an injury, then and only then do I want the Victor Cruz project entering the game. (I feel the exact same way about Danny Ware by the way taking snaps away from our proven starters, btw)
Now onto the defensive rankings. Obviously JPP was the star of the show — and it was good to see Tolly get in there for a sack filling in for Justin Tuck. I have a feeling if Osi Umenyiora and Tuck were playing, this would have been a different game up front. Still, 4 sacks on opening day isn’t a bad thing.
My issues, as I mentioned the other day have more to do with the secondary not making plays and at times trailing their man 5 yards off the ball. Absurd to think the Giants would have any chance to stop the Redskins with that kind of coverage.
Corey Webster played like a first year rookie, not a veteran and former league leading shut down corner like he was in 2008 and the start of 2009 before he was injured. The first half, I counted 3 passing plays in a row that exploited his slow play, and the Giants paid for it dearly.
Aaron Ross was worse – I counted 3 consecutive plays where he was burned in the second half and setup a Redskins scoring opportunity. Let’s seriously consider Ross as a bust and relegate him to the 5th pass rusher, honestly. That’s all he can handle I think, and his quickness is truly an asset there.
I’ve said enough about Rolle already. I appreciate him making tackles and bailing our corners out, but the penalty in the 4th quarter killed the Giants.
Kenny Phillips had a good day however as he made plays all over the field and broke up a pass that would have setup a sure Redskins TD. In fact he made Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro team for week 1. Check it out here.
I felt Greg Jones had a decent outing, in his first NFL start he made some tackles and left a couple out on the field to work on. The Hightower TD where Coughlin went ballistic on the no-call for holding, Jones was in position to bust that play up in the backfield and simply didn’t get there in time. He’s got potential for sure, and these kinds of bad plays early will help him get prepared when it’s really on the line later this season.
Chris Canty threw his team under the bus for playing so poorly, and rightly so. But he barely did anything of note himself. Yeah he had a sack, he made a few tackles, but he wasn’t dominant. He’s the biggest guy on the field by a longshot and yet, he barely registered a central push to collapse the pocket.
Assuming the Giants get Tuck and Osi back by week 3, the front 7 will be looking much better from a pass rushing standpoint. As for LB pass coverage — pretty bad. Kiwi and Boley got repeatedly burned. Fred Davis for example had a career day going over 100 yards, most of those receptions came on the OLB’s watch.
Part of the problem may simply be that EVERYONE downfield was out of place when playing zone — it certainly seemed that way. 10 yards of free space around a receiver running a skinny post is way too much space for an NFL QB to operate in. It’s no wonder Grossman repeatedly hit his mark for 20 yards along the edges of the Giants zone, the Giants refused to close the gap all game. When the Giants rewatched this game film, I hope they saw how easy it was for the Redskins to sustain their drives through the air.
That about does it for this week folks, onto the next chapter in the 2011 regular season saga. Hopefully we’ll be talking about a win against the Rams Monday night.
Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:02 AM
BY Ralph Vacchiano
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Wednesday, September 21st 2011, 4:00 AM
The video will be everywhere they look this week. So will all the gory details. Not that the Giants need a reminder of how they collapsed against the Philadelphia Eagles last December.
Some of them can see the whole nightmare unfold whenever they close their eyes.
"Last year," said defensive end Justin Tuck, "will linger with me until I die."
Even Tom Coughlin admitted last year's heartbreaking 38-31 loss to the Eagles will stick with him forever, so it is no surprise it took only a few minutes for the Giants to turn the page on their 28-16 win over the St. Louis Rams on Monday night to their game in Philadelphia on Sunday. They may not have been looking past the Rams, especially after dropping their opener, but they acknowledged that they have been looking forward to the Eagles game for a while.
"Everybody in that locker room feels as though we owe the Eagles a little something," Tuck added. "That's going to be a big game for us."
It would have been a big game anyway, given the Eagles' self-appointed "Dream Team" status, but it's made bigger by what happened last Dec. 19. That's when the Giants, in a game that would have all but locked up the NFC East title for them, led the Eagles, 31-10, at home with 8:17 to go.
Then came the worst collapse for the Giants since The Fumble in 1978. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick went crazy, throwing for 143 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown, tying the game in the final frenzied eight minutes. Then rookie punter Matt Dodge couldn't get his punt out of bounds, and DeSean Jackson made him pay with a game-winning, 65-yard punt return for a touchdown on the final play of the game.
The Jackson highlight, with several Giants flailing at him or diving at his feet, is the one that will be replayed over and over, but the Giants haven't forgotten Vick's enormous role in that disaster. They couldn't stop him. In fact, they could barely touch him during the collapse.
So even though it seemingly helps the Giants if Vick is forced to miss the rematch due to the concussion he suffered Sunday night in Atlanta, the Giants wouldn't mind at all if he plays.
"Yeah, why not?" Tuck said. "You always want to beat teams at their best. I would love for him to play. I think he brings out the best in us, too. Maybe we go down there and he's not in there and we think we got this thing won. If he's playing, we know we have to be on our toes."
"If we get a win with Vick in the game," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka added, "that would be a confidence-booster."
The Eagles were off Tuesday, so there was no news on Vick, who hasn't yet been ruled out of Sunday night's game. If he can't play, it is believed that Mike Kafka will get the start since Vince Young is still nursing a hamstring injury. After Vick got hurt in the Eagles' 35-31 loss in Atlanta, Kafka - a second-year pro out of Northwestern - came in and completed seven of his nine passes for 72 yards.
No matter who the quarterback is, however, the Giants desperately want to beat the Eagles in a game that's filled with juicy storylines. There is the Giants' first game against their former receiver Steve Smith. If Osi Umenyiora returns to action, there is his feud with the player he called "Lady Gaga" - Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Plus, the Giants have lost six straight games to Philly. They endured a summer of hype about the "Dream Team" the Eagles were assembling.
And then there is the matter of the bitter memories from their epic collapse last December that will likely never go away.
"I think it'd be good for this team," Kiwanuka said, "to get some redemption."
Read more: http://www.nydailyne...l#ixzz1YZlh0N4M
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