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March 29, 2006

New Giants Stay Close, Not Only in Coverage

By CLIFTON BROWN

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 28 — The lockers of Sam Madison, Will Demps and R. W. McQuarters are side by side in the Giants' locker room.

 

The arrangement is not a coincidence. The three are part of a new secondary, and they hope to form an effective bond, starting with the off-season conditioning program being held at Giants Stadium.

 

After ranking 27th among 32 teams in pass defense last season, the Giants retooled their secondary through free agency, signing cornerbacks Madison, McQuarters and Jason Bell, and safeties Demps and Quentin Harris. While some Giants like Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey are working out elsewhere, McQuarters, Demps and Madison are with their new teammates, hoping to accelerate the adjustment process.

 

"The chemistry seems pretty good right now," McQuarters said Tuesday, standing in front his locker. "I know it's just off-season workouts, but you want to start somewhere. This is a good place to start."

 

Coach Tom Coughlin will not hand a starting job to anyone, but McQuarters and Madison hope to start, joining Demps and Gibril Wilson at the safety positions. For Madison, coming to New York after nine seasons with the Miami Dolphins is an opportunity to prove he can still do the job as a starting corner; he will turn 32 in April.

 

Madison has been to four Pro Bowls and has 31 interceptions, but he has made only two picks the past two seasons. He is sure to be tested in the National Football Conference East, where he will face explosive receivers like Terrell Owens of the Cowboys and Santana Moss of the Redskins twice a season. Madison sounded eager for the challenge.

 

"The Dolphins pretty much didn't even give me an opportunity to come back, because they said I didn't make a lot of plays," said Madison, who was released by Miami. "When the ball did come my way, I made great plays on the ball. As long as we can create turnovers and give the ball back to the offense, that's my main objective."

 

Madison has the locker that used to belong to Will Allen, who signed with the Dolphins.

 

"I didn't pick this locker, they gave me this locker," Madison said. "It's not about the locker, it's about the person when you step on the football field. Over the last four or five years, I think I've only missed one game. I can count on my hand the number of touchdowns I've given up, the number of big plays I've given up. My body's good, my mind's right, I have a fresh start."

 

Madison said he had spent much of his time in New York getting to know his secondary mates.

 

"I could have been at home working out," he said. "But then once I come in, they won't know who Sam Madison is."

 

Demps, 26, needed surgery last season for a partly torn left knee ligament, but he said Tuesday that he was 90 percent healed.

 

With the secondary needs addressed, Giants players were curious to see where the free-agent linebacker LaVar Arrington would sign. Arrington recently visited the Giants, and Jacksonville and Miami are also interested.

 

"LaVar Arrington is a good football player, but we also have good football players here," said Osi Umenyiora, the Pro Bowl defensive end. "I don't think we necessarily need him, but if he wants to come here, and they want him here bad enough, they're going to get him here. You can never have enough good players. Any team he goes to, he's going to make a better football team, immediately."

 

EXTRA POINTS

 

Eli Manning said it was not a major concern that wide receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end Jeremy Shockey were not attending off-season workouts yet. "Last year I made a little deal about it, because it was going to be my first year starting at quarterback, and I wanted Shockey to be here," he said. "But we just played a whole season together. We can pick up on things quicker. Between the mandatory minicamps, we'll have plenty of time to get back on the same page."

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Eli Manning said it was not a major concern that wide receiver Plaxico Burress and tight end Jeremy Shockey were not attending off-season workouts yet. "Last year I made a little deal about it, because it was going to be my first year starting at quarterback, and I wanted Shockey to be here," he said. "But we just played a whole season together. We can pick up on things quicker. Between the mandatory minicamps, we'll have plenty of time to get back on the same page."

 

:clap:

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Guest Nutty Sack

I guess Shockey and Plax won't know who Sam Madison is. I wonder if they even know who's on the team at this point.

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