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Giants replace Wilson with Knight at safety

Associated Press

Updated: March 3, 2008, 8:23 PM EST 91 comments

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Veteran safety Sammy Knight signed a three-year contract with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Monday, replacing the departed Gibril Wilson.

 

Financial terms were not immediately available, but it was believed Knight will get between $5 million and $6 million.

 

That's a lot less than Wilson, the free safety who left the Giants for a $39 million contract with the Oakland Raiders.

 

"I think this is a great situation for me," Knight said. "This is a great staff, first and foremost, and a great organization. They won the Super Bowl, and they have a lot of people coming back, so the opportunity to win again was definitely one of the determining factors in me coming here."

 

A 12-year veteran who will turn 33 in September, Knight led the Jacksonville Jaguars with 93 tackles last season. He also had four interceptions and a forced fumble.

 

Knight added 20 tackles in the postseason, including 13 in the wild-card victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

"I did a great job for Jacksonville and we talked to them, but ultimately, this was a better place for me," Knight said. "I felt like I had a better chance to win here."

 

His 42 career interceptions are tied with Champ Bailey for third among active players, trailing Darren Sharper (53) and Ty Law (52).

 

"We're excited to have a veteran of Sammy's caliber joining our secondary," general manager Jerry Reese said. "We were attracted to how smart he plays and how productive and physical he plays. We think he will thrive in our defensive schemes. He brings a lot of leadership to the team, especially to the secondary, and he is a real pro."

 

Knight has worked with defensive backs coach Pete Giunta during a two-year stint with the Kansas City Chiefs (2005-06) and also played with cornerback Sam Madison during two seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2003-04).

 

"We feel like with his love of the game and his attitude about the idea of team that he'll be a real nice fit for us," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Sammy gives us another quality veteran who will definitely help our young guys in their development."

 

Knight has played mostly strong safety in his first 11 seasons in the NFL, the same spot played last year by returning starter James Butler. One will have to move to free safety. Rookie Michael Johnson also played well at safety in his rookie season.

 

Undrafted out of Southern California, Knight has started 168 of the 174 regular-season games and all five postseason games in which he's appeared. He has played in 156 consecutive regular-season games, the NFL's 14th-longest current streak. He has missed only two games in his career, both in 1998.

 

His first NFL start was on Sept. 28, 1997 against the Giants in Giants Stadium. He had 11 tackles and an interception in a 14-9 loss.

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Jerry Reese not silent this time around, signs Sammy Knight for Giants

 

BY RALPH VACCHIANO

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

 

Tuesday, March 4th 2008, 4:00 AM

Though Jerry Reese took his time making his first free-agent signing last season, he's gotten out of the gate quickly this year. Simmons/News

 

Though Jerry Reese took his time making his first free-agent signing last season, he's gotten out of the gate quickly this year.

 

Last year, it took Giants GM Jerry Reese three weeks to sign his first free agent. This year it only took him four days.

 

Reese brought in his first reinforcement Monday when he signed former Jaguars safety Sammy Knight, an 11-year veteran to replace Gibril Wilson, who signed with the Raiders when free agency opened. Knight signed a three-year deal worth $5.15 million and got a signing bonus of $1.25 million.

 

That's quite a bargain compared to the six-year, $39 million contract (with $16 million) that Wilson got from the Oakland Raiders on Friday night.

 

Knight, who also has played for the Saints, Dolphins and Chiefs, has 42 career interceptions, including four in Jacksonville last season. He is considered a stopgap until the Giants are convinced Michael Johnson - a seventh-round pick last year - is ready for a full-time role.

 

"We're excited to have a veteran of Sammy's caliber joining our secondary," GM Jerry Reese said in a statement. "We were attracted to how smart he plays and how productive and physical he plays. We think he will thrive in our defensive schemes. He brings a lot of leadership to the team, especially to the secondary, and he is a real pro."

 

Knight is a former Dolphins teammate of Giants cornerback Sam Madison and played for current Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta in Kansas City. He said he considered returning to Jacksonville, but "I felt like I had a better chance to win" with the defending Super Bowl champs.

 

"I think this is a great situation for me," Knight said. "They won the Super Bowl, and they have a lot of people coming back, so the opportunity to win again was definitely one of the determining factors in me coming here."

 

Knight, who will be 33 in September, has played in 156 consecutive regular-season games - the 14th-longest current streak in the NFL. He's expected to start alongside James Butler, a restricted free agent who was tendered by the Giants last week. It's not clear who will start at which safety spot, but they are considered virtually interchangeable in the Giants' defensive system.

 

STILL WAITING: The Giants and Tom Coughlin remain close to a four-year contract extension worth about $20 million, which is essentially where they've been since about a week after the Super Bowl ended. The deal is finally expected to be announced either today or tomorrow.

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FAVRE’S FINALE A GIANT FIT

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

 

 

March 5, 2008 -- Any thrilled Giants fan who reveled in their incredible and improbable Super Bowl run is sure to win a bet in the years to come when the following trivia question is asked: Who caught the final pass of Brett Favre's Hall of Fame career?

 

Answer: Corey Webster

 

The fairly nondescript Giants cornerback made one of the biggest plays in a playoff drive fueled by mammoth moments. Webster stepped in front of receiver Donald Driver and intercepted a soft and errant Favre pass in the first minute of overtime in the NFC Championship Game at arctic Lambeau Field. Webster's return to the Green Bay 34-yard line set up Lawrence Tynes Lawrence Tynes ' dramatic 47-yard game-winning field goal to launch the Giants New York Giants into Super Bowl XLII and, as it turned out, further glory against the Patriots.

 

"It's an honor to have competed against Brett Favre in his last game," Webster said. "Brett is by far one of the best quarterbacks I have ever competed against. We knew going into that game we were going to have to prepare well because everybody knew Brett would be at his best in a game that meant so much. That interception, to this point, was the biggest play of my career."

 

Webster does not have that historic ball as a keepsake, as he presented it to Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both his legs while serving in Baghdad and in that game served as the Giants inspirational co-captain.

 

"He said I could have it back whenever I wanted," Webster said, "but I've told him it's his to keep."

 

Favre's last game was that 23-20 overtime loss to the Giants. In a strange coincidence, Tom Coughlin's teams have defeated three Hall of Fame quarterbacks in their final games: Jim Kelly (Dec. 28, 1996), Dan Marino (Jan. 15, 2000) and Favre (Jan. 20, 2008).

 

"I don't think there has been any better statesman for professional football than Brett Favre," Coughlin said.

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Giants eye more secondary help

 

Thursday, March 6th 2008, 4:00 AM

 

The Giants are looking for more veteran help in their secondary, and are expected to get a free-agent visit from Tampa Bay cornerback Brian Kelly on Thursday.

 

Kelly, 32, spent the last 10 years with the Buccaneers. He hasn't been a full-time starter since 2005, but last year he had two interceptions in a reserve role. He could be the second veteran defensive back to join the Giants this week. The team signed 32-year-old Sammy Knight to a three-year, $5 million deal on Monday. Kelly visited the Lions on Wednesday.

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COUGHLIN PACT IS LIKELY TODAY

 

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

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March 6, 2008 -- The contract extension for Tom Coughlin that kept on growing and growing in value as the Giants New York Giants surged to victory in Super Bowl XLII is likely to be officially announced today, even though the basics of the deal have been set for a few weeks.

 

Coughlin is expected to sign a four-year deal worth slightly more than $20 million, assuring he'll be under contract with the Giants through the 2011 season, when Coughlin will be 65 years old.

 

Back in 2004, Coughlin came to the Giants with a four-year, $12 million deal and following last season was given a one-year extension for $3.5 million. It's expected the Giants will rip up that extended year for the new and more lucrative package.

 

*

 

Thus far in free agency, the Giants have been predictably quiet, with their lone signing the addition of veteran safety Sammy Knight, who replaces Gibril Wilson Gibril Wilson (gone to the Raiders). Seeking to add to their depth at cornerback, the Giants have interest in Brian Kelly, who spent the previous 10 seasons with the Buccaneers. Kelly, 32, will visit the Giants today.

 

*

 

It is altogether fitting that Super Bowl hero David Tyree David Tyree has become the first Giants player to secure a publishing deal, as he will collaborate on a book about the season, his faith and, of course, his remarkable ascension to stardom because of his involvement in what's being called the greatest play in Super Bowl history.

 

The book, scheduled to be released in September, will be published by the Strang Book Group.

 

After an improbable escape by Eli Manning, Tyree's catch off his helmet in the closing minute of Super Bowl XLII led to the winning touchdown in the Giants' dramatic 17-14 upset victory over the previously-unbeaten Patriots.

 

"It is important to me for people to understand who I am, where I came from, and how God has moved in my life," Tyree said.

 

paul.schwartz@nypost.com

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Giants give Coughlin new 4-year, $21M deal

Associated Press

Updated: March 7, 2008, 6:42 PM EST 227 comments

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Tom Coughlin was rewarded for the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory, agreeing to a four-year, $21 million contract Friday that will make him one of the NFL's highest-paid coaches.

 

He will earn about $5.25 million annually, according to a person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the contract hasn't been signed. The person said the team will announce the deal Saturday. The two sides had the outline of the deal in place for weeks.

 

The contract represents a $2 million increase over last season and what he was to have earned this year. Seattle's Mike Holmgren is the NFL's top-paid coach at $8 million a year.

 

Gary O'Hagan, Coughlin's agent, did not return a call. The Giants had no comment.

 

"I don't think Tom's going to change," veteran punter Jeff Feagles said in a telephone interview. "The monetary value, that falls into line with what other coaches make. And especially with the Giants, you're rewarded for what you do on the field and your dedication, and Tom deserves every bit of it."

 

Coughlin had been on the verge of being fired after the Giants went 8-8 in 2006 and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year. Coughlin and the Giants (14-6) both staged remarkable turnarounds, capped by a 17-14 win over the previously unbeaten New England in the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

 

Coughlin was an assistant coach on Bill Parcells' staff when the Giants won the Super Bowl in 1991. He left to coach Boston College and eventually took the head job with the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin has a 103-89 record in 12 NFL seasons, including a 35-29 mark in four seasons with New York.

 

"We know what we'll be getting with Tom, and that makes a difference to a player," said Feagles, who signed a new two-year contract on Feb. 12. "You bring somebody else in, you never know if they're going to change your routine. But we all know how structured Tom is. And now we all know he'll be around for a few more years."

 

Once an unyielding disciplinarian, Coughlin became a kinder, gentler coach. He still demanded perfection, but he was wise enough to enlist a group of veterans to get his message across.

 

It helped when the Giants were routed by Dallas and Green Bay in their first two games. The two blowouts had some fans screaming for Coughlin to be fired, and many felt this was going to be a long year for the Giants.

 

Coughlin went to his leadership council, and told them that there was no other group that he would rather be coaching.

 

The message got to the players and the Giants went on a six-game winning streak, starting with a victory over the Washington Redskins that was preserved by a late goal-line stand.

 

New York eventually clinched a playoff berth by rallying to beat Buffalo in the next-to-last week of the year. The last week of the regular-season and the playoffs were magical.

 

With nothing to play for in the regular-season finale against the Patriots, New York played an inspired game behind Eli Manning and opened a 12-point second-half lead against Tom Brady & Co. before losing 38-35.

 

The performance gave the Giants confidence going into the playoffs and they rode it. They beat Tampa Bay in the wild-card game, avenged two earlier losses to the NFC East champion Cowboys in the conference semifinal and then got back at Brett Favre and the Packers in overtime on a frigid day in Green Bay, earning their fourth Super Bowl trip.

 

A 12-point underdog in the title game, the Giants battered Brady and got a late-minute TD pass from Manning to Plaxico Burress to win their third Super Bowl.

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ELI GLAD TOM'S BACK

By BRIAN LEWIS

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March 6, 2008 -- Perhaps from the moment the Giants New York Giants traded for Eli Manning Eli Manning on Draft Day 2004, he and Tom Coughlin have been linked together - vilified when the Giants struggled the last few years, vindicated when Big Blue won the Super Bowl last month.

 

So as Manning basks in the afterglow of being a Super Bowl MVP, he's enjoying not just being the toast of the town, but the knowledge that his once-beleaguered coach will be around for a while, reportedly agreeing to a four-year, $20-plus million extension just a year after being on the hot seat.

 

"We came in the same year; he [traded for] me, and we've had our ups and downs," Manning said at ARENA for the March of Dimes March for Babies kickoff. "One thing a quarterback and a head coach share is you get too much blame after a loss and too much credit after a win. We both understand that.

 

"But we have a great relationship. We understand each other. I'm excited for him that he's going to be our coach for a long time, and we're looking forward to it. It's a tribute to hard work."

 

They'll be working with a slightly different cast, after losing linebackers Reggie Torbor Reggie Torbor and Kawika Mitchell and safety Gibril Wilson - and possibly Michael Strahan to retirement.

 

"After you win a championship, you're going to lose a few guys; that's just part of the deal. Other guys have to step up," Manning said, adding, "I'm happy we have all our offensive guys coming back, at least."

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BIG BLUE BUCK$

COUGHLIN EARNS 4-YEAR, $21M CONTRACT

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

 

 

March 8, 2008 -- The comeback coach is coming back.

 

Of course we knew that, realized as much as the Giants New York Giants gained one improbable playoff victory after another. The fact that Tom Coughlin, all but left on the side of the road as a coaching carcass following the 2007 season, had earned future employment with the Giants was obvious as he somehow guided his upstart club through postseason rampages in Tampa, Dallas and frigid Green Bay. Even if Coughlin had not masterminded an upset for the ages against the unbeaten Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, his place as the head coach would have been secure.

 

Once the Giants stunned the world by fighting from behind for a thrilling 17-14 triumph over the Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., the only question was when Coughlin's new deal would be announced and how much dough he would make.

 

After getting down all the language and final touches of a new four-year, $21 million contract, the Giants yesterday finalized an agreement and today will make official Coughlin's reward.

 

Thus completes a remarkable turnaround, both professionally and personally, for the 61-year old Coughlin. Following last season, when the Giants slipped into the playoffs despite a record of 8-8 and slipped out the playoffs after a narrow loss to the Eagles, Coughlin received a mere one-year extension for $3.5 million. It was a clear indication from ownership that Coughlin needed to get more out of the team and become less of a negative force among his players and the media. He made the changes and the results were spectacular.

 

Coughlin is now contractually bound to the Giants through the 2011 season, when he will be 65 years old. He also vaults into the upper-echelon of NFL coaches in terms of salary, not near the $8 million Mike Holmgren will make in his final year in Seattle, but certainly competitive with other top coaches such as Denver's Mike Shanahan and Jeff Fisher of the Titans. The final year of Coughlin's old contract was ripped up, meaning this is not an extension but a brand-new deal. It's probably the last one he'll ever sign but, given his recent success and spry exuberance, you never know.

 

"I hope he takes us out to dinner because he's going to have a lot of money," said linebacker Antonio Pierce Antonio Pierce , a staunch Coughlin backer. "Or to a movie. It will be like 'Popcorn on Coach.' "

 

This move will be applauded by the vast majority of Giants players, as Coughlin gained far greater support this past season with his more encouraging and supportive demeanor.

 

"I think we're all excited Tom is going to come back," quarterback Eli Manning Eli Manning said. "We know how he prepares. Hopefully I'll play a long time for him."

 

Coughlin, staring into his possible coaching mortality, took ownership's decree to heart. The move that may have garnered him his greatest support was the creation of an 11-player Leadership Council, giving the most respected players a say in the decision-making process.

 

Coughlin navigated through Michael Strahan's training camp holdout and bent his rules when a severe ankle injury made it impossible for Plaxico Burress to practice during the week. Coughlin allowed Burress to rest in order to be ready to play on Sundays. The old Coughlin likely would not have been as understanding.

 

"When I first got here guys would come up to me and say, 'Sam, why did you go up there with coach Coughlin?' " cornerback Sam Madison said. "Just because of the negative stuff they heard in the past. But he's been unbelievable."

 

paul.schwartz@nypost.com

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Giants looking at David Carr to be Eli Manning's backup quarterback

 

by Ralph Vacchiano

daily news sports writer

 

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 4:00 AM

Antonelli/News

 

David Carr is visiting with the Giants and could be on Big Blue's sidelines as a backup next season.

 

The Giants already have one former No.1 pick playing quarterback. Soon they might have two.

 

David Carr, the No.1 selection in the 2002 draft, will arrive in the New York area Monday to begin a two-day free-agent visit with the Giants. The Giants are interested in signing the 28-year-old to be the backup for Eli Manning, the No.1 pick in 2004.

 

Carr spent part of last year with the Carolina Panthers, making four starts. He went there after five mostly disappointing seasons with the Houston Texans, where he never quite lived up to his hype.

 

If he signs with the Giants, Carr would be reunited with quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, who was the Texans' offensive coordinator in Carr's first four NFL seasons.

 

The Giants clearly have made an effort to upgrade their backup quarterback spot, which was held last season by Anthony Wright. They were in the bidding for Todd Collins just moments after free agency opened on Feb.29, only to see him re-sign with the Redskins. They tried to bring in ex-Dolphin and new-Jaguar Cleo Lemon for a visit. They had also expressed an interest in Trent Green, who signed yesterday with the St. Louis Rams.

 

Carr played in just six games for the Panthers last season and completed 53.7% of his passes (73-of-136) for 635 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He was eventually beaten out by 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde and former undrafted free agent Matt Moore.

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GIANTS TAKE CARR FOR TEST RUN

 

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

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March 11, 2008 -- Two quarterbacks taken with the very first pick in the NFL Draft on the same team? It could happen, as David Carr, according to sources is scheduled to pay a visit tonight and tomorrow to the Giants New York Giants , who happen to be led by Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning Eli Manning .

 

Apparently, the Giants are serious about adding talent to their backup quarterback stable, which currently holds Anthony Wright Anthony Wright and Jared Lorenzen. Manning, the top pick in 2004 out of Mississippi State, has been virtually indestructible and thus the quality and identity of his backups has been largely irrelevant. Clearly, though, GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin want a better option in case anything happens to Manning.

 

The Giants already had expressed interest in free agents Todd Collins, (re-signed with the Redskins) Cleo Lemon (signed with the Jaguars) and Trent Green (signed with the Rams). Carr, the No. 1 pick out of Fresno State in 2002, will be the first quarterback to visit and the fact he's looking for work is indicative of how far he's fallen.

 

Although he's still young - he turns 29 on July 21 - Carr has been knocked around like a punching bag, sacked an unheard-of 76 times in his rookie year with the Texans and 262 times in six NFL seasons with Houston and Carolina. He was released by the Panthers on Feb. 28.

 

In Houston, Carr worked under offensive coordinator Chris Palmer, who now is the Giants' quarterbacks coach..

 

 

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CLARK TO VISIT GIANTS

 

 

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

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March 12, 2008 -- In addition to bringing in quarterback David Carr for a visit, the Giants New York Giants last night and today also will meet and get to know linebacker Danny Clark, who, like Carr, has a Giants connection.

 

Carr played for QB coach Chris Palmer when Palmer was the offensive coordinator in Houston. Clark back in 2000 was drafted out of Illinois by Tom Coughlin and spent four years in Jacksonville, three with Coughlin.

 

A strong side linebacker, Clark if signed would fill the roster spot opened up when Reggie Torbor Reggie Torbor signed with the Dolphins. Mathias Kiwanuka Mathias Kiwanuka , coming back from a broken leg, is expected to resume his linebacker career and in reserve on the strong side, the Giants at the moment have Zak DeOssie entering his second year.

 

Clark turns 31 on May 9 and in his eight-year career had his best seasons in 2004 (130 tackles) and 2005 (113 tackles) starting for the Raiders. He's spent one year with the Saints and last season with the Texans.

 

The 6-2, 245-pound Clark has played in 122 NFL games, with 67 starts, and would be a core special teams player for the Giants. paul.schwartz@nypost.com

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Giants sign QB David Carr to one-year, $1 million deal

 

By RALPH VACCHIANO

DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

 

Wednesday, March 12th 2008, 6:03 PM

Heisenfelt/AP

 

David Carr, a former No. 1 overall pick in 2002, will now backup Eli Manning - the first pick in 2004.

 

Eli Manning got a new backup quarterback Wednesday when the Giants signed David Carr.

 

Carr, who like Manning is a former No. 1 overall pick (2002), signed a one-year deal worth $1 million. It also includes incentives that will earn the 28-year-old a little more if he is forced to spend any significant time in the starting job.

 

The Giants obviously hope he won't have to, but they've been searching hard for a reliable veteran to sit behind Manning, and to be ready to fill in for him in case of an emergency next season. Carr, who started four games for Carolina last year, will likely have to compete for that job with last year's backups, Jared Lorenzen and Anthony Wright.

 

"He is a smart and athletic player who has put up some big passing-game numbers," Tom Coughlin said in a statement released by the team. "If we can place him in a positive environment, perhaps he can reclaim some of the things that people saw to draft him in the first round."

 

Carr will be helped by QBs coach Chris Palmer, who was the offensive coordinator in Houston during Carr's first four seasons. Still, those were mostly disappointing seasons for Carr, who was battered behind an offensive line that allowed him to be sacked 249 times. "I have a lot of calluses," Carr said. "I'm like an old carpenter. I've been through it." ... LB Danny Clark visited the Giants Wednesday but did not sign a contract.

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Giants sign linebacker Danny Clark

 

Friday, March 14th 2008, 4:00 AM

 

 

Needing some more depth at linebacker after losing two free agents at the position in the last month, the Giants signed veteran Danny Clark on Thursday to a two-year, $4million deal.

 

Clark, who will be 31 in May and will be entering his ninth NFL season, spent last year with the Houston Texans, but he played the first three years of his career for Tom Coughlin on the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is the first ex-Jag to rejoin Coughlin in New York.

 

Clark will be "an outside linebacker," Coughlin said in a statement. That at least opens up the possibility that Clark could compete with Gerris Wilkinson for the starting job on the weak side. Last year's starting weak-side linebacker, Kawika Mitchell, recently signed with the Buffalo Bills. Reggie Torbor, who was the starting strong-side linebacker in the Super Bowl, also recently left to join the Miami Dolphins.

 

"(Clark) is a very physical, very versatile player," Coughlin said. "Over the years, he has been a very good special teams player. Clark is a veteran guy with an outstanding work ethic. He will fit in well with our players in the locker room. He will have an opportunity to compete for a position."

 

In other local NFL news, the Giants and Jets hired St. Louis Cardinals president Mark Lamping to oversee construction and operations of the $1.6 billion stadium they're building at the Meadowlands. Lamping, the Cardinals' president since September 1994, directed the demolition of old Busch Stadium and the construction of the baseball team's new stadium.

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CLARK THRILLED TO BE JINT HIT MAN

By PAUL SCHWARTZ

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March 14, 2008 -- When you win the Super Bowl Betting-on-the-Super-Bowl and do it with a punishing force, outsiders take notice.

 

"I just want to be a part of this defense that is just tearing people apart," Danny Clark said.

 

Clark is the newest addition to the Giants New York Giants championship defense, yesterday signing a two-year, $4 million contract to compete at outside linebacker and to work on any and possibly every special teams unit.

 

"He is a veteran linebacker who can play all three spots," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He has been an outstanding special teams player. He is going to create competition in both areas, special teams and at linebacker. He fits the New York Giant mold."

 

Familiarity certainly had plenty to do with this week's two Giants imports. The signing of quarterback David Carr was helped along by the past working relationship Assistants-Who-Follow-Their-Boss in Houston of Carr and Giants quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer. Clark was drafted by the Jaguars and Tom Coughlin back in 2000.

 

"He is a very physical, very versatile player," Coughlin said. "Clark is a veteran guy with an outstanding work ethic. He will fit in well with our players in the locker room. He will have an opportunity to compete for a position."

 

Coughlin certainly was no soft touch back in the Jaguars' formative days, but Clark says his first NFL head coach steered him in the right direction.

 

"He made me do the right things," Clark said. "He ultimately teaches you how to be a professional. He teaches you to be accountable to your teammates and be on time and dressed appropriately. All of that stuff molds a young guy into an upstanding citizen in this league, which is hard to find sometimes. You knew what you were going to get day in and day out and that stuck with me throughout my career in the NFL. I spoke with him the other day and I made him aware of that."

 

Clark - the first of Coughlin's former Jaguars to sign with the Giants - turns 31 on May 9 and is entering his ninth NFL season, the first four in Jacksonville, two in Oakland, one in New Orleans and last year with the Texans. Clark's best season was 2004, when he had 130 tackles for the Raiders. Primarily a strong side linebacker, the 6-2, 245-pound Clark had 51 tackles in seven starts last season.

 

With the losses in free agency of linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Reggie Torbor, the Giants were thin at that position. Figure Clark will slide in as a backup to Mathias Kiwanuka on the strong side or possibly challenge Gerris Wilkinson for the weak-side spot vacated when Mitchell signed with the Bills. The signing leaves the Giants about $9 million under the salary cap.

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Ward returns to Super Bowl champions

Associated Press

Updated: March 14, 2008, 4:09 PM EST 20 comments

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Oft-injured Derrick Ward re-signed with the Giants on Friday after a season in which he was part of a group of running backs who did an outstanding job in replacing Tiki Barber and helped New York win the Super Bowl.

 

Ward rushed for 602 yards and three touchdowns before a broken left leg ended his season in December. He shared the halfback spot with Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Reuben Droughns.

 

An unrestricted free agent, Ward tested the market but decided to stay.

 

"The Giants gave me my start," he said. "It feels good to come back to hopefully have a good year this year and be a part of the Super Bowl champion Giants. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish my career here."

 

Ward moved into the starting lineup in the second game of the season after Jacobs sprained a knee in the season opener against Dallas. He started five of eight games before ankle and groin injuries sidelined him.

 

"We are glad to have Derrick back in our stable of running backs, which will create some real competition at that position," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He brings a lot to the table as a runner, receiver, kick returner and cover specialist."

 

Ward also caught 26 passes for 179 yards and another score. On Dec. 2 in Chicago, he broke his leg in a game in which he ran for a career-high 154 yards. He was then placed on injured reserve.

 

Before last season, Ward had 35 rushing attempts for 123 yards in his first three seasons with the Giants.

 

"It was hard sitting out," Ward said. "It's been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the Super Bowl. I wasn't able to play in it because of my injury, but I felt I helped the team enough to get us there. It was a win-win situation for me."

 

Ward said he is ready to start the offseason conditioning program on March 31.

 

The Giants signed Ward off the Jets' practice squad on Oct. 13, 2004. Ward missed half the 2006 season because of foot injuries.

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Carr determined to seize make-or-break opportunity with Giants

Yasinskas

 

By Pat Yasinskas

ESPN.com

(Archive)

 

Updated: March 14, 2008

 

 

 

 

He came in wearing a white glove on his passing hand and holding a glittering résumé. By December, the same fans who were overjoyed when the Carolina Panthers signed David Carr the previous spring were booing the quarterback right out of Bank of America Stadium.

 

Things got so bad that Panthers coach John Fox, who doesn't admit much of anything, admitted he was afraid to expose Carr to the home fans. With Carolina's season on the line, Fox no longer felt he could turn to the guy who had been brought in for this very purpose. Instead, he stuck with 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde until he fossilized and then handed the keys to undrafted rookie Matt Moore.

 

Carr's time in Carolina was over two months before the Panthers got around to officially cutting him. This is becoming an ugly trend for a guy who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2002 draft by the expansion Houston Texans.

 

The Panthers and Texans have given up on a quarterback who was supposed to be a can't-miss prospect. But Carr has missed receivers and opportunities at both stops. He knows the one-year deal he signed with the New York Giants on Wednesday -- a contract that's worth $1 million but could increase if incentives for playing time are met -- could be his final chance.

 

"This is very serious now,'' Carr told ESPN.com, shortly after signing with New York. "The last two years, I've let it kind of slip.''

 

 

The role won't come with nearly as much pressure as when Carr was asked to be the face of the Texans. But backing up New York's Eli Manning is essentially the same role for which Carr signed with Carolina last year. It seemed like a good idea, from every angle, at the time. The Panthers wanted a backup with some experience in case anything happened to Jake Delhomme.

 

Carr had the experience as well as good size, arm strength and mobility. He wanted a fresh start, and although there were teams out there looking for a starter, Carr chose Carolina. After meeting with his advisers, Carr decided the best way to resurrect his career was to go to a good team as a backup for a year or two and let things sort out.

 

The fans in Carolina, who take anything involving the Panthers to extremes (mainly because they're the only real show in town), rejoiced when he joined the team. They assumed that Carr would beat out Delhomme before long. When he unveiled the white glove and made some nice throws in the preseason, the fans were ready for a full-blown quarterback controversy.

 

The coaches and management weren't quite as giddy because they were firmly committed to Delhomme. Still, they were convinced they had a solid backup for the first time since Steve Beuerlein was backing up Kerry Collins in the 1990s. But something went terribly wrong. Delhomme's elbow fell apart in Week 3. If Carr had 10 or 12 games to sit peacefully, he might have been able to succeed. But the shell shock of playing behind awful offensive lines in Houston was still with him.

 

Carr tried to play through some injuries and his teammates respected his toughness. But there were other currents running through the locker room that eventually spilled out into the stadium stands. First and foremost, Carr couldn't move the offense. Then, his trademark California cool --wearing the glove, dropping the word "dude'' often in conversation and that shoulder-length hair -- started rubbing people in the locker room and in NASCAR land the wrong way.

 

Teammates wouldn't rip Carr, but more than a few eyes rolled (especially from the defensive players) when asked about the Panthers' offensive woes. Fans began chanting Moore's name. The coaching staff and front office scratched their heads because they were so sure Carr was for real after his strong preseason. But nobody had the answer for what went wrong.

 

In hindsight, the 28-year-old Carr says he has it now: The California cool has to go.

 

"That's something guys from California have to work against,'' Carr said. "Sometimes, we make things look too easy. I thought I had the right attitude in Houston and Carolina, but I realize now that I didn't. I worked hard, but I didn't prepare myself well enough to give my teammates true confidence in me.''

 

This time, Carr insists, will be different, and he knows if it's not, his career could be done. Currently, Carr's in California taking care of some personal stuff. But he'll be heading to New York to join offseason workouts soon. He's going to leave the cool at home.

 

"I always worked hard and studied film and all that stuff,'' Carr said. "But I didn't really let people know that I was doing that. I've realized you've got to show that to get respect and confidence. I'm going to go in with the attitude that I'm going to work harder than I ever have before and leave no stone unturned.''

 

This won't be the first time Carr has been one of two former first overall picks on a roster. Last year, he and Testaverde shared that distinction. But the current states of the careers of Manning and Carr couldn't be any more different. Manning is coming off a Super Bowl victory and his stock is at an all-time high. Carr is just trying to show he belongs in the NFL.

 

The major reason Carr signed with the Giants was the presence of quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer. When Carr was in Houston, Palmer was his quarterbacks coach. The two always had a good relationship, but Carr admitted he might not always have given Palmer his best.

 

The folks in Carolina might not want to hear this and probably won't believe it, but Carr said last season was not a total waste. Especially the season's final month, during which the only time Carr put his helmet on was to protect himself from getting objects thrown at him by fans.

 

"The last month of last season was actually the best of my career,'' Carr said. "Just watching Vinny Testaverde, he showed me what it really means to be a true professional. He showed me it's about more than being a great athlete. It's about preparing yourself and carrying yourself the right way. Those were the things Chris always was telling me in Houston, but I wasn't always listening. This time, I'm going to listen.''

 

Pat Yasinskas covers the NFL for ESPN.com.

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Super Bowl champion Giants raise ticket prices average of $7

 

Associated Press

 

Updated: March 21, 2008, 3:53 PM ET

 

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants' season ticket holders are going to pay about $7 more per ticket to watch the Super Bowl champions next season.

 

The Giants sent letters to ticket holders this week informing them of the roughly 8 percent increase.

 

Last season, the average price of a ticket was $83.29, which ranked 12th out of the 32 teams in the NFL. Last year's average increase was $4.72.

 

The new prices will be based on seat location in Giants Stadium.

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New York Giants Notes, Quotes

by Sports Xchange

Updated: March 25, 2008, 12:00 PM EST

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--Giants defensive line coach Mike Waufle was the Grand Master of a St. Patrick's Day parade in his home town of Hornell, N.Y. It was the 21st annual St. Patrick's Day celebration for the town of approximately 9,000. "It wasn't as extravagant as the parade down the Canyon of Heroes (in downtown Manhattan)," said Waufel, "but it was every bit as emotional for me."

 

--The signing of DT William Joseph by the Oakland Raiders signaled an end to a grand plan gone awry. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound former Miami Hurricane was the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2003 but never played to that level, or anywhere near it. He sat out last season after suffering a back injury in training camp. Joseph, predicted to be a Top 10 pick in 2003, slipped to 25th, where the Giants decided he was too talented to pass up on.

 

--Super-sub DE Justin Tuck, who had 10 sacks last season, has been the object of many trade inquiries from other teams, but the value of an almost-25-year-old pass rusher is too high for the Giants to let him go. "Ernie (former general manager Accorsi) said 'you can't ever have enough pass-rushing defensive ends,' and I agree," said current GM Jerry Reese. Besides, Tuck will get the starting job as soon as 36-year-old Michael Strahan decides to end his 15-year Pro Bowl career.

 

--The Giants gained exactly eight yards less rushing than they did in 2006, when now-retired RB Tiki Barber had 1,662. The team had 14 touchdowns in Barber's final season and had 16 last year -- and the leading rusher was Brandon Jacobs, who had "just" 1,006 yards.

 

--Former Giants CB Will Peterson, who not only changed teams but names when he signed with Philadelphia and became William James, is on the move again. The free agent corner signed with the Buffalo Bills. No mention of another name change yet.

 

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If I could play in the Super Bowl every year that would be great, but that doesn't happen and I'm glad I got to win one this year." -- Giants' CB R.W. McQuarters.

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