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For Giants’ Reese: Mass Cutdowns = Opportunity

By David Gruenbaum | August 28th, 2008


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It’s not that the G-men are a talent-poor outfit desperate for the scraps discarded by other, better stocked teams. Though the Giants could use a little reinforcement in 1 or 2 spots (TE, LB), what cutdown day is mainly about for Big Blue is a prime chance to be opportunistic.


By Saturday, all 32 NFL teams must reduce their rosters from 75 players to 53. This means that, not counting the Giants themselves, roster reductions will involve 22 players for each of 31 teams.


Do the math: 22 x 31 = 682. That’s the number of players who’ll be lopped off by other teams. That’s the number that, excluding some who’ll remain beyond the grasp of rivals — on injured reserve, for example — will become available for the Giants to consider claiming.


That’s what we mean by “opportunity”. Consider: We’ve all heard the personnel geniuses admit in candid moments that the draft is a crapshoot. Well, what about mass cutdowns?


Does anyone imagine:


  • all 682 of the cuts about to be made by other teams will be wisely decided?
  • some teams, at some positions, don’t have more good players than they can keep?
  • the available talent won’t include some persistently underachieving players who, unbeknownst to the teams that cut them, are thisclose to having the light go on? — including some for whom the very experience of being cut, and realizing they truly are no longer on scholarship, is the necessary catalyst for improvement?
  • some raw but gifted athletes won’t knowingly be let go because it’s a win-now league and another lesser talent is judged more ready to contribute now?
  • some veterans let go to save cap dollars or make room for youth aren’t still quite capable of helping another team win?
  • some coaches, especially the new and/or insecure, won’t make foolish moves to “send a message” to their teams?
  • there won’t also be instances of guys being cut due to their unease with the offensive or defensive scheme but readily grasping and fitting into another team with a different scheme, or even just different nomenclature?
We’re sure that’s not a complete list of all the reasons one team’s discard can become another team’s steal. But we figure you get the general idea: Like the draft, mass cutdowns are a crapshoot. With all the raw material being sifted and the calculated gambles inescapably being taken, some gems will be lost track of.


And does it not stand to reason that some teams will do a better job than others when it comes to 2 important things, the first being not letting gems slip away for nothing in return, and the second being identifying when other teams have allowed just that to occur?


Never underestimate an iron rule of life: The smart and the prepared gain ground on the foolish and the unprepared 365 days a year — 366 on leap years. And that goes double in the NFL on cutdown day.


This is one of those times of the year when top GMs earn their money. And when the ability of coaching and front-office staffs to work together pays huge dividends.


Odds of a Big Blue Trade in the Next 7 Days: Above 50 Percent


With just 7 days to go between today and Redskins Thursday, the urgency (excess talent at certain positions — such as WR and S — that the team wouldn’t want to lose without compensation, and needs to be filled at other positions, such as TE and possibly LB depth) and the assets (the aforementioned excess talent and a more-than-full cupboard of draft choices) to pull off a deal are both in evidence.


Coming from the Giants: 5-WR Sets?


If you blinked earlier this week, you missed the bloodbath that took place at Big Blue’s wide receiver position. We did at some point mention there were too many bodies there, didn’t we?


Michael Jennings and D.J. Hall were waived, Craphonso Thorpe placed on injured waivers, and David Tyree moved from active PUP to reserve PUP. That’s a lot fewer guys competing for oxygen molecules in the WR meeting room.


The position is now down to the 7 on whom our previous speculation has focused: Burress, Toomer, Smith, Hixon, Moss, Manningham, and London. If the Giants were to put 5 of these players on the field at once, how many opponents would have the depth of cover talent to defend it? Welcome to Air Coughlin?


We lied when we said they’re down to 7. The G-men this week picked up WR Marcus Monk, a rookie who was drafted on the 7th round this past April by the Chicago Bears and subsequently cut.


We imagine Big Blue might be giving him a quick look-see to decide if he’s worth stashing on the practice squad and working with as a developmental guy for next season. Monk measures in the neighborhood of 6′5″ and 220 pounds.


He’s a good natural athlete who can catch in a crowd but, with a 40 time in the 4.5-4.6 range, doesn’t have the speed to run away from NFL defensive backs. He might have gone fairly early in the draft had he not suffered a knee injury just prior to his senior year, due to which he may still not be in top physical shape.


Don’t count on anything developing out of this signing, but you never know.


Plaxico Burress has Returned to Full Practice


On both Monday and Tuesday this week, Burress was a full participant in practice for the first time since before the Super Bowl. He reported feeling 100 percent physically but acknowledged his stamina isn’t yet up to par. As of now, there’s nothing new on his contract situation.


The Crazy Thoughts that Pop into Our Head


Watching Reynaldo Wynn intercept a pass last Saturday against the Jets, and to our eyes look smooth doing it, got us thinking — which is a dangerous thing.


If Wynn isn’t up to executing the blocking assignments of a tight end, it isn’t because — at a listed 6′3″ and 296 pounds — he lacks the size. Nor is it true that the G-men couldn’t use some additional help at the tight end position (as we’ve noted elsewhere).


Knowing all that, we’re wondering what harm could possibly result from giving the man a few practice reps at TE. At the very least, there’s a naive blogger somewhere whose curiosity it would satisfy.


Tonight: New England


Preseason Game 4 on tonight, 7:00 p.m., Giants Stadium, Channel 4. This one is for the backups vying for spots on the active roster or the practice squad and/or seeking bigger roles. The Giant starters are expected to be in for about 10 plays.


Given that the Patriots reportedly mouthed off to the Giant players early in last February’s Super Bowl about how the game was going to come out — and didn’t back it up — it would show some class on their part if they confessed as much this evening to their Big Blue counterparts.

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