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The day at Giants' camp

Friday, June 15, 2007



-- Coming off his second major injury in three years and entering his 15th season, DE Michael Strahan still believes he is the NFL's best defensive end.


"I can still pop on the film and show you I am still the best at what I do," Strahan said Wednesday.


Strahan, who set the league's single-season sack record with 22 1/2 in 2001, has a lot to prove this season. He missed almost the entire second half of last season with a midfoot sprain, and only did limited work yesterday at Giants Stadium.


"Coming back from the injury, I enjoy it because it's a challenge," Strahan said. "... Now the challenge is can I come back and play on a bad foot, 15 years into it, and still try to be a Pro Bowl-type, All-Pro player? That's my own personal challenge, my own motivating factor."


-- DE Osi Umenyiora sat out the morning session with an undisclosed injury that has limited him the past few weeks. He returned in the afternoon. Rookie CB Aaron Ross did not practice in the morning or afternoon as a precautionary measure after falling and hitting his head late in practice on Wednesday.


-- DT Jay Alford, a native of Orange, became the first of the team's 2007 draft picks to sign when he agreed to a four-year deal Wednesday night. "It's a great feeling," Alford said. "I got that part off my back. Now, I can go play football."


-- QB Eli Manning continued to struggle in the morning session. He overthrew several receivers and completed only a few check downs and short routes. But in the afternoon, he connected with rookie WR Steve Smith on a deep ball.




S Will Demps, working with the second team for part of Wednesday morning's practice, responded with a nice interception yesterday. He later came flying up to fill a hole on a running play. Two aggressive plays from Demps, who was often too passive last season.




Guy Whimper isn't giving David Diehl much of a push for the starting left tackle spot. Whimper was beaten by DE Charrod Taylor during team drills and flinched early on one play for what would have been a false-start penalty.




The Associated Press contributed to this report.





© 2007 The Star Ledger

© 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved






June 15, 2007 -- No one from the Giants has said anything to Robert Douglas, even though veteran fullback Jim Finn is gone for the season following shoulder surgery, and Douglas is the only fullback on the roster, for now.

"This is the NFL, ain't it?" Douglas asked yesterday. "They're going to bring in competition, without a doubt."


Perhaps not. The Giants actually expected Douglas to supplant Finn and believe he can handle the load. Douglas, who will turn 25 by the time training camp rolls around, has had difficulty sticking with an NFL team. Coming out of Memphis, he originally was a rookie free agent with the Titans in 2005. Since then, he has had flings with the Buccaneers and Texans. The Giants signed him off Houston's practice squad late last season.


A fullback in high school, Douglas was moved to linebacker at Memphis, but returned to his fullback roots as a senior, blocking well enough that DeAngelo Williams was able to rush for nearly 2,000 yards. At 6-foot-1 and a well-built 230 pounds, Douglas is athletic enough, but must show he is strong and explosive enough to do the job.


"I have been impressed with what Robert Douglas has been able to do, but of course we don't have any pads on," Tom Coughlin said.




Rookie first-round pick Aaron Ross fell on his head on Wednesday and sat out yesterday as a precaution. . . . DT Jay Alford, the third-round pick out of Penn State became the first Giants draft choice to sign.




Count TE Jeremy Shockey among those eager to see Brandon Jacobs in his new role as the starting RB, replacing Tiki Barber, who retired after last season.


"He's going to have a chance this year to prove to everybody how great a player he is," Shockey said of Jacobs. "He has every tangible possible, he's huge, he's fast, he's smart, he's a great guy. I know he has a competitive spirit like myself, he's a talker, he's not a guy who's quiet.


"It's going to be fun seeing a guy 275 pounds running the ball a lot."



Fullback Douglas has big opportunity with Giants





(Original publication: June 15, 2007)

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Eli Manning squatted and barked out a few signals before turning around to the backfield, holding the ball in his multimillion-dollar right arm.


Robert Douglas took the handoff from the Giants' franchise quarterback and bolted through a bunch of imaginary tacklers. No doubt he is hoping it's a scenario that will play out for real when the Giants begin the regular season in a few months and not just a small snapshot of the second day of the team's mandatory three-day mini-camp.


With Jim Finn placed on injured reserve, the 6-foot-1, 248-pound Douglas is currently the Giants' lone option at fullback. And it's no given the free-agent pickup will be the one to supplant Finn, especially since he's never suited up for a regular-season game in the NFL.


But Douglas' long-shot chances of making the roster certainly have improved somewhat, although he's likely not ready to go house hunting for that perfect Northern New Jersey home just yet.


"I just have to be prepared for anything," Douglas said after the Giants' morning practice yesterday. "I'm not lax right now, I'm really not. I'm not saying that this is my job at all. I just have to go hard every day. That's all I can do."


Douglas was plucked off the Houston Texans' practice squad the day after Christmas. He came into the league as a rookie free agent with the Tennessee Titans in 2005, but has spent most of his NFL career on practice squads.


He's bounced around somewhat since his days at the University of Memphis, where he spent his senior season paving the way for current Carolina Panther DeAngelo Williams in the speedster's 1,948-yard, 22-touchdown campaign in 2004. So the 24-year-old St. Louis native, who has some athleticism and the ability to snag a pass out of the backfield, showed he can be a serviceable blocker in college. Now, he has to convince the coaches.


"I have been impressed with what Robert Douglas has been able to do," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "But of course we don't have pads on yet, either."


Coughlin didn't rule out bringing in someone in to compete for the starting gig, noting the Giants will have their eye open to see if someone becomes available.


Douglas, for the most part, is banking on competition.


"This is the NFL, ain't it?" he said. "They're going to bring in competition without a doubt. And I just have to do what I do."


If Douglas does make the team and earn the starting nod, it would cap an improbable ascension for someone who was little more than an afterthought.


"To be able to come here after being knocked down a couple of times and get a chance to start and play," Douglas said, "it would be good, man. It would be good for me because I'd feel like I've accomplished something. And everybody needs a good feeling like that - to think they overcame adversity and did what they had to do to come out on top."


Notes: Rookie cornerback Aaron Ross and was held out of both practices for precautionary reasons. The Texas product missed the second half of Wednesday's afternoon session after falling down and banging his head. "He seemed to feel a little bit better," Coughlin said. ... Tight end Jeremy Shockey, who's been injured in seemingly every one of his five seasons so far, talked about his desire to stay healthy for the entire season: "I figured putting more muscle on and gaining speed would give me the benefit of staying healthy and a greater chance to finish a full season and the postseason," he said.







June 15, 2007 -- Michael Strahan this week saw his good buddy and former defensive partner in crime, Jessie Armstead, officially retire as a member of the Giants. Armstead hasn't played in an NFL game in four years, but at 36 is merely one year older than Strahan, who is preparing to play in his 15th NFL season.


The age gap between Strahan and his younger teammates is akin to The Great Divide.


"Big time," Strahan said. "I see it every day."


He gets kidded as if he were an old uncle. He even gets kidded for playing with two generations of NFL talent.


"[Linebacker] Reggie Torbor just said to me 'Did you play with Steve DeOssie? " Strahan said. "He said 'Well, his son is here. When they're signing up sons of guys you played with, it's time for you to quit.' He could be right."


Indeed, Steve DeOssie's last year with Giants was 1993, Strahan's rookie season, and now 23-year-old Zak DeOssie is a new teammate. The old defensive gang is long gone. Tiki Barber has retired. Other than Amani Toomer, there's no one left to share stories with Strahan about Dan Reeves, much less George Young or Dave Brown.


"To see Jessie on the field and think he's retired, and talk to Tiki the other day and he's talking about he's enjoying his retirement, it's kind of makes you sit back and think maybe it is getting to that point where I'm long in the tooth," Strahan said. "But as long as I feel good and feel like I can contribute and they want me around it's hard to quit, because you love the camaraderie and the competition of it."


Strahan continues to be paid ($4 million this season) like a star defensive end, but surely the Giants will seek to reduce that financial obligation if he once again breaks down. After playing in every game for five straight seasons (and missing only three games in a 10-year span) Strahan has missed 17 games the past three years.


There was a torn pectoral muscle in 2004 and last season's Lisfranc mid-foot sprain. Strahan was able to avoid foot surgery, but he knows all eyes will be on him to see if he can regain the form that produced 1321/2 sacks (tied with Lawrence Taylor for the franchise record) and made him a sure-fire Hall of Famer.


"I feel I can have my best year this year," Strahan said. "I feel great, man."


He has been on the field sparingly during this mini-camp and no doubt will be on a one-a-day schedule during training camp in Albany. He says fighting back from an injury is a challenge that motivates him and he refuses ever to view himself as merely a support player.


"In my opinion," Strahan said, "if I pop on the film, I can still show you I'm the best at what I do."







Giants 'D' having a ball with Spagnuolo

Friday, June 15, 2007


Star-Ledger Staff

It was clearly a forward pass. And defensive lineman William Joseph had definitely knocked it down. But as the ball spun on the practice field grass, the Giants' defenders were acting like it was a fumble instead of an incompletion.


"Ball!" one yelled.


"Pick it up, Willie Joe!" another screamed.


Joseph did. And he started rumbling in the other direction with an escort of blue jerseys while the offensive players in white walked back to the huddle.


"We're starting a trend, just trying to get the NFL to change the rules a bit," middle linebacker Antonio Pierce joked yesterday afternoon.


They're trying to change something, but it's not the rule book. Just the attitude on the defensive side of the ball.


In only a few weeks, new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has noticeably changed the way the defense practices. From the scrambles to grab loose balls (even if they're not fumbles), to the booming sound of the players breaking the huddle, Spagnuolo has turned practice into a much more intense -- and enjoyable -- experience for a unit that ranked 25th in the NFL in overall defense last season.


"The defense should always be a reflection of the D-coordinator's personality," Pierce said.


Which is why the players' response to a loose ball is so telling. Pierce said former coordinator Tim Lewis suggested it last year after hearing the Bears' defense scoops up every ball in practice. But Pierce said the defense did it "mockingly" for only a few weeks.


Now, under Spagnuolo, every loose ball in practice appears to be a fumble in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. His message of intensity is being received, whereas Lewis' demanding (and often demeaning) presence wore out the players.


"The tempo is so much different," Pierce said. "You see a (coach) in a better mood, you're hearing about (third-year cornerback) Corey Webster liking him (after being discouraged by Lewis the last two years).


"It's a better situation for our guys. We just have to make it work."


That's the key for Spagnuolo and the defense: maintaining the attitude and intensity for longer than these three days of minicamp. As defensive tackle Barry Cofield noted, "Ask me in Week 13 if people still feel like breaking the huddle when it's cold and people are sore."


At least for now, the players see the importance of keeping up with Spagnuolo's tempo.


"It helps boost the level of chemistry and confidence in your teammates," cornerback R.W. McQuarters said. "And it helps while you're trying to learn new things like we are right now."


Plus, the energy seems fitting for a defense that has been advertised as more aggressive and attacking than Lewis' schemes.


"Guys have had fresh air breathed into them," Cofield said. "It's going to be a new look and there's a lot of excitement."


And a bit of results. If there was a way to score minicamp, the defense would definitely be in the lead. Yesterday morning, the unit dominated the offense with several interceptions, plenty of passes defensed and very few long completions.


It's way early. But it is a promising start -- at least from an attitude standpoint.


"They've done a good job defensively of understanding what we wanted," coach Tom Coughlin said. "There is a good resolve and a good sense of ... not as much 'rah-rah' or hype, but rather efficiency in what they're trying to accomplish."




Mike Garafolo may be reached at







© 2007 The Star Ledger

© 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.

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Strahan is STILL gimpy? Fuck. Eli sounds terrible, and no mention of Toomer.


Thank the stars for The Spagster.



yah, wtf is a mid foot SPRAIN anyway!? i thought sprains healed faster and were less restricting than coming off of breaks...

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yah, wtf is a mid foot SPRAIN anyway!? i thought sprains healed faster and were less restricting than coming off of breaks...



It was a Lis Franc sprain, they take alot longer to recover from.

It took Duce Staley over 2 years to get over that injury.

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Yep, another tainted sack record. LT had 10 sacks before it was considered a stat.


I am sure Strahan will get another 10 sacks so it's a non-issue really. Maybe it'll be a big deal before the 10 but he'll get more than that and secure it for good.

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I am sure Strahan will get another 10 sacks so it's a non-issue really. Maybe it'll be a big deal before the 10 but he'll get more than that and secure it for good.



Not that I would be against it, but I doubt he will see 10 more sacks. From the sounds of it, we will be lucky to get half a season outta him. He striaght admited he has a bum foot right now. And if thats the case he will most likely be cut next year.

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