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Steve Spagnuolo: Listen to how the players respond to him. :clap:



Giants' defense eager to attack email_top.gif print_top.gif record_logo_sm.gif

Wednesday, April 25, 2007





EAST RUTHERFORD -- Here is Antonio Pierce's scouting report on the Giants' biggest off-season pickup so far, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.


"I don't want to say 'arrogant,' but he's got a little pizazz about him," Pierce said Tuesday of the former Eagles linebacker coach. "He's walking around, he's got his shirt unbuttoned, got a little chain on. He looks like he's kind of short, but he has a tall stature, how he carries himself. Very humble, he didn't come in here and try to blow everybody off. He's tried to get to know everybody."


His defense, as much as his personality, has endeared Spagnuolo to Pierce. The Giants will be more aggressive -- patterning themselves after the Philadelphia blitz bunch -- than they were under Tim Lewis.


"Even though we were considered a 4-3 defense, we used a lot of 3-4 variations," Pierce said of the Lewis scheme. "That ticked off a lot of guys especially our [defensive] ends. I think this will be more suited for what we've got. Our ends can stay outside and let our linebackers and safeties create hell, and see what our corners can do."


Spagnuolo joined the Giants in January. His scheme is certain to get some formidable new faces in a few days, especially in the back seven. Pierce thinks a Giants trade for the Bears' disgruntled Pro Bowler, Lance Briggs, remains a possibility. He's certain Briggs will not play in Chicago this season, and has been lobbying for his team to make a play for him.


Yet it's highly unlikely the Giants can put together a viable package for Briggs.


With their first-round pick (No. 20), however, they may nab a top linebacker, either Miami's Jon Beason or Florida State's Lawrence Timmons -- whichever one gets past Pittsburgh at No. 15. Then they could get a cornerback such as UNLV's Eric Wright, Fresno State's Marcus McCauley or Syracuse's Tanard Jackson in Round 2.


Or they could opt for a corner such as Aaron Ross of Texas or Chris Houston of Arkansas in Round 1, and then get a linebacker such as Stewart Bradley of Nebraska in the second round.


"I'm a defensive player and I'm going to be biased, of course," Pierce said of strengthening the unit through the draft. "But it's not one of those things where I am in dire need of anything. When you get somebody in the draft, you get someone who is inexperienced, but someone who might be able to help you right away or somewhere down the road."


Wide receiver, safety and offensive tackle are other legitimate options in the first two rounds. But the Giants' pre-draft interest clearly has been tilted toward backers and corners. "I think we have more need for depth at other areas other then wide receiver," said veteran Amani Toomer, who has no doubt he will come back from the knee surgery that ended his 2006 season after eight games.


"We can add another corner -- for practice," veteran Sam Madison said with a laugh. Madison is another Giant smiling more these days with Spagnuolo in control. He'll get to play more of the press coverage at which he's most adept in this system.


"A lot of corners have come in and played right away," said Madison. "I was able to do that. They key is to get the right one for the right scheme."


E-mail: ditrani@northjersey.com

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