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Agent: Plaxico Burress drawing serious interest from at least two teams


BY Rich Cimini



Friday, May 15th 2009, 8:29 PM

DelMundo for News


Despite his off-the-field problems, Plaxico Burress is being pursued by some NFL teams.


Even though he faces the likelihood of jail time, former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress is drawing interest from "at least two teams that are very serious about signing him," according to his agent.


The receiver-needy Jets could be one of those teams. They acknowledged a call to the agent, Drew Rosenhaus, before last month's draft, and they continue to keep tabs on Burress. Owner Woody Johnson told the Daily News two weeks ago that he wouldn't stand in the way if GM Mike Tannenbaum wants to sign the controversial player.


On Thursday, Burress received a call from an unnamed head coach, according to Rosenhaus, who issued a Burress update Friday via his Twitter account.


The agent also tweeted that Burress will meet with "senior NFL executives in the near future," although he gave no reason for the meeting. Presumably, it deals with his legal troubles, but an NFL spokesman said no meeting has been scheduled.


The Giants released the former Super Bowl hero, facing felony gun charges, on April3, having grown tired of the Burress headache. The move came four days after Burress' court hearing was postponed until June 15. Burress' attorney, Benjamin Braftman, reportedly is trying to negotiate a plea arrangement with the Manhattan district attorney's office.


Burress faces at least 3-1/2 years in prison if convicted of the weapons charge. He accidentally shot himself in his right thigh last Nov. 28 at a Manhattan nightclub. The Giants suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team and fined him. He also faces possible sanctions by the league for violating the personal conduct policy.


The Jets still haven't replaced veteran receiver Laveranues Coles, leaving Jerricho Cotchery as the only accomplished receiver on the roster. Before the draft, they expressed some interest in trading for the Cardinals' Anquan Boldin and, during the draft, they tried to trade up for Florida's Percy Harvin.


At this point, the Jets are reluctant to part with a high draft pick for a receiver, not to mention a huge contract. That makes Burress, despite his baggage, an intriguing option. They wouldn't have to give up a pick and they could get him on the cheap.



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Giants' new tight end Travis Beckum a changed man


BY Ralph Vacchiano



Saturday, May 16th 2009, 9:35 PM

Pace for News



The whole idea is just "crazy" when Travis Beckum really thinks about it. Here he is, an offensive weapon so promising for the Giants, GM Jerry Reese said he could be a "nightmare" for opponents. The coaches are already drawing up plays just for him.


Yet until three years ago he had never played offense at all.


In fact, after the 2005 season, when he first approached Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, who had just been promoted from defensive coordinator, and suggested switching from linebacker and defensive end to tight end, Beckum wasn't exactly given a ringing endorsement.


"At first he kind of giggled at me," Beckum said. "So I said, 'Coach, no, I'm being serious.' That following year I made the transition during spring ball and I'm at where I'm at now."


Here's where he's at now: Drafted in the third round (100th overall) by the Giants two weeks ago, he's penciled in as the Giants' H-back and the coaches are already brainstorming creative ways to use him. After getting his first look at the playbook at the Giants' rookie camp last weekend, Beckum can already see how he'd be used at almost every offensive skill position except quarterback.


And with the rising popularity of the Wildcat formation, you never know. He could see a snap or two at QB as well.


"I think they kind of want to use me off the line, in the slot, just someone that moves a lot," said the 6-3, 239-pounder. "I think that they drafted me because they can see my abilities to spread the field and that's what I look to do."


Those abilities were pretty clear to everyone in the Giants' draft room, according to tight ends coach Mike Pope. "He's big, he can run fast, he's quick, he's got good hands," Pope said of Beckum. "Now we've just got to figure out how to utilize him."


At the rookie camp, they lined Beckum up mostly at tight end, "just so he'd have a basis to begin," Pope said. In reality, though, Beckum will rarely be used at the true tight end spot - next to the tackle - because he's too small to be an effective blocker against NFL defensive ends. The idea, Pope said, is to get Beckum into space, where the Giants can find matchups he should be able to exploit.


"Where you could really see he's a potentially exciting player is when we did the one-on-one things (in camp)," Pope said. "I mean, he can run, he can separate. The talent is there."


That was obvious immediately at Wisconsin, where in his first two years as an offensive player - as a sophomore and a junior - Beckum caught 136 passes for 1,885 yards and 11 touchdowns. A hamstring injury and later a broken left leg caused him to miss half his senior season, though he still caught 23 passes for 264 yards in six games. What the Giants saw when they scouted him, according to Reese, was a player who "could be a nightmare as a matchup problem for linebackers and strong safeties" and a big, inside target who could get open quickly and help Eli Manning late in the season when the Giants Stadium winds start to swirl.


The idea that he could be all that was never a thought when Beckum was growing up in Milwaukee and on his way toward becoming Wisconsin's high school player of the year as a linebacker in 2004. But in college, his coaches switched him to defensive end in the middle of his freshman season. He struggled, his playing time diminished, and he didn't see much of a future for himself at that spot.


That's when he had the offensive brainstorm that gave Bielema a laugh.


"I knew I had pretty good hands, and with a little bit of work I could learn to run routes," Beckum said. "It was definitely tough. I definitely had to make some changes in what I did and how I looked at things. I guess I looked at it as a challenge. I love taking the challenges and seeing what I can make out of it, and that's what I've done.


"It just shows you that sometimes you just have to leave your options open, so when one thing doesn't work out you try another thing. Obviously I did that. It's worked out great."




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Rooney Rule for NFL GMs would be job well done


Saturday, May 23rd 2009, 3:51 PM




The NFL is considering a proposal to extend the Rooney Rule to teams that are looking to hire general managers.


In a time when diversity in employment has taken a backseat to headlines about unemployment, the NFL should be applauded for its proactive stance.


"I definitely think it was necessary at this time," said Giants GM Jerry Reese, one of five African-American NFL general managers.


"You can see the success it's had with the coaches. You can see what an effective tool it has been in evening the playing field for minorities."


The Rooney Rule, named after Pittsburgh Steelers President Dan Rooney, was instituted seven years ago after two lawyers threatened to sue the NFL if it didn't open up more opportunities for minorities. Rooney led the NFL committee on diversity which instituted a policy that called for teams searching for a coach to interview at least one minority candidate for the opening.


Three years ago the Steelers hired Mike Tomlin, who guided Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl championship this past season, though Rooney said Tomlin, one of six African American coaches in the NFL, was not interviewed because of the Rooney Rule.


Reese said it is only fair that the Rooney Rule should extend to general managers.


"This just gives candidates a chance to get in front of owners to make their case," Reese said. "It lets them hear you out and gives you a shot at an interview that you may not get. If it opens the door for a minority candidate that he wouldn't typically get, it's a good thing.


"No one is asking that you get a shot if you're not qualified for the job. But a candidate that is qualified should get the opportunity to at least interview."


The five African-American GMs in the NFL are Reese with the Giants, Rod Graves with Arizona, Martin Mayhew with Detroit, Rick Smith with the Texans and Ozzie Newsome with the Ravens.


Reese has done a remarkable job for the Giants since taking over for Ernie Accorsi in 2007. His keen eye for talent evaluation has helped the Giants stockpile talent at key positions that paved the way for New York's Super Bowl run in the 2007 season.


Who knows how many more Jerry Reeses there are out there? So it is in the best interest of NFL teams to open the door to any and all candidates who might be able to help them get to the Super Bowl.


There was no vote taken on expanding the Rooney Rule during a two-day NFL owners meeting in South Florida last week. But commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that changes could be made soon.


The sooner the better.



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Giants bolster O-Line Depth

By Michael Eisen, Giants.com


Take this story to go! - RSS | Podcast | Mobile


MAY 21, 2009


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - The Giants continued to bolster their offensive line depth today with the signing of Tutan Reyes, a 10-year veteran who has played both guard and center.


On Thursday, the Giants bolstered their O-Line depth Thursday, by signing Tutan Reyes.


Reyes, 6-3 and 305 pounds, has played in 53 regular season games with 37 starts and started three postseason games in a career that has included stops in New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Buffalo and Jacksonville. In 2008, Reyes played in 15 games for the Jaguars, including eight on offense. He made three starts at right guard – Oct. 12 at Denver, Oct. 26 vs. Cleveland and Nov. 2 at Cincinnati.


Reyes entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice out of Mississippi by the New Orleans Saints in 2000, the 131st overall selection. He was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie. Reyes made his NFL debut on special teams on Dec. 2, 2001 vs. Carolina, his only appearance that season.


The Saints waived Reyes on Sept. 10, 2002 and signed him to their practice squad two days later. On Oct. 1 of that year, he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, waived on Nov. 23 and claimed by the Panthers. Reyes was inactive for the final five games of the season. In 2003, he was inactive for all 16 regular season games and four postseason contests, including Super Bowl XXXVIII.


The following season, Reyes played in 14 games with 12 starts, eight at right guard and four at left guard. He missed two games with an injured left ankle.


In 2005, Reyes started all 16 regular season games and three postseason games at left guard for a Panthers team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game. He was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills on April 26, 2006 and started the first six games at left guard before he was inactive for the final 10 games.


Reyes signed with the Jaguars on Aug. 20, 2007. He was released on Sept. 11 and re-signed on Nov. 6. His only appearance was in the season finale at Houston, when he played right guard in the second half.


At Mississippi, Reyes began his career as a tight end before shifting to the line, where he started 24 consecutive games at left tackle. As a senior in 1999, he was a second team All-SEC selection.


Tutankhamen Reyes was born in Queens, N.Y. on Oct. 28, 1977. He played at August Martin High School in Queens.


To make room on the roster for Reyes, the Giants waived tight end Martrez Milner, who spent most of the 2008 season on the team’s practice squad.

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Report: Plaxico Burress turned down deal for two months in jail




I'm filing this one in the "Yes, that might possibly be somewhere near the truth" category for now, but I think it's interesting enough to pass along anyway.


It comes (via Pro Football Talk) from Bob Papa, play-by-play guy for the Giants and the NFL Network, and also the host of "The Opening Drive" on Sirius NFL radio. He's apparently heard some things about Plaxico Burress(notes) and the charges pending against him, and shared them on the radio this morning.


“This is what I’ve been told and what I’ve heard,” Papa said on the air. “They worked out something where they had it down to about a three-month jail term with actually only two months served and about 1,500 hours of community service. And I think his lawyers felt that they had a pretty good deal. He doesn’t want to go to jail at all. He shot down the deal. . . . He does not want to go to jail at all. So now coming up in another couple of weeks we’re gonna find out what’s gonna happen. But my guess is that the city of New York is not gonna back off any kind of jail time.


“Evidently, he’s gonna have to go to Ryker’s [sic] Island,” Papa added. “He’s deathly afraid of going. . . . f he would have just taken the deal when it originally was offered it would all be over with by now. But supposedly the community service hours and the jail time are not appealing to him. He does not understand that he is not in any kind of position of leverage. He has no leverage. He — not his representatives — he thinks he has leverage.”


Again, I'd be careful about accepting this as complete and total truth right now. Bob Papa's a reputable guy, and I've got no reason to doubt him, and if he feels confident enough to go on the air with this, maybe that says something. But at the same time, it's something he's heard, and the only two people who really know what's going on between Burress and his lawyer are Burress and his lawyer.


If it is true, though, Plax could be on the verge of a colossal mistake. If he said no to two months of something he's "deathly afraid of" and ended up with three-and-a-half years of something he's "deathly afraid of" ... how big of a mistake would that be? It's barely even possible to make a mistake bigger than that.


Whatever happens, I hope Plaxico ends up making the right choice, whatever that is. I can't blame the guy for being deathly afraid of Rikers Island. It's supposed to be terrifying. That's kind of the point.

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Giants Team Report


Yahoo! Sports 2 hours, 31 minutes ago



Many of the Giants will admit, almost always privately, that they regret the actions that led to the release of superstar wide receiver Plaxico Burress(notes), and that they wished the Giants would have waited until his trial date—tentatively June 15—had come and gone.


But a considerable portion of the veteran population attached a nearly mystical importance to his disappearance from the roster, comparing it to the surprise trade in July of 2008 when the Giants dispatched tight end Jeremy Shockey(notes) to New Orleans and snuffed a smoldering fire in the locker room which had spread to the huddle.


Shockey did not play well for the Saints while the Giants played exceptionally well in 2008—until Burress and his loaded handgun backfired on him and the team, resulting in a self-inflicted wound to his right thigh and a season-ending suspension by the Giants. Without him, and without warning that he would suddenly be gone, the offense floundered. At least when Shockey was sent away there was ample time to push young Kevin Boss(notes) into the starting lineup where he flourished.



Burress is gone, too. No more locker-room distractions; no more dissension on the field; no more gestures of disgust when a pass was overthrown or underthrown, or perhaps not even thrown in his direction when he thought it should have been.


But who replaces him this season?


The Giants are setting up an image as one of the top teams in the NFC. Their defense, given some help at linebacker and some depth in the secondary, should be extraordinary. But with the quality of the front line (from which defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan has seven or so to choose) might in fact minimize some depth problems behind them.


The offense should be fine on the ground, if bulky halfback Brandon Jacobs(notes) (6-4, 265) stays healthy. The offensive line will be entering its fourth consecutive season without a change. Eli Manning(notes) has turned into a highly competent quarterback and must address the quality of his receivers.


The Giants tried to secure help. They drafted Hakeem Nicks(notes) in the first round and Ramses Barden(notes) in the third, two big, fast wide receivers. They return with veterans Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon(notes), Mario Manningham(notes), Sinorice Moss(notes) and David Tyree(notes), and there are still reports of a potential superstar trade.


Some names never seem to fade from the public eye—Michael Vick(notes), Brett Favre(notes), Dick Cheney and Drew Rosenhaus among them—and there was a recent rebirth of trade rumors involving one of Rosenhaus’ recent star clients, Arizona wideout Anquan Boldin(notes). Rosenhaus has persistently tried to get “Larry Fitzgerald(notes) money” from the Cardinals, and then last week was fired by Boldin.


Perhaps that will spur new discussions, although what the team would want for Boldin and what Boldin would want for himself could, in both instances, be too rich for even the Giants’ blood.


But it does seem like overkill. The Giants, barring injury, should have enough to be legitimate contenders this year without Burress.

Notes, Quotes


• According to recently published reports, WR Plaxico Burress, who is facing jail time with regard to his violation of carrying a loaded and concealed handgun last November in a public night club in Manhattan, was offered a plea bargain that would have carried only three months in jail (two after considerations) and he refused it.


“He is deathly afraid of jail time,” said one source. “Now he’ll likely go to trial and he could get three and a half years. Where’s the logic in that?”


• TE Martrez Milner(notes), who spent last season with the Giants after being a fourth-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2007, was released last week and 24 hours later awarded to the New York Jets. The 6-4, 260-pounder from Georgia was on the Giants’ practice squad after being released by the Falcons after Game Two last season.


• The Giants opened their first of 10 OTA sessions (Organized Team Activities) in the new full-sized indoor practice field at the team’s new complex. “It felt great,” said QB Eli Manning. “I was able to air it out without leading my receiver into a soft wall.”


• There appears to be a battle going on for the third tight end position, since starter Kevin Boss and third-round draft pick Travis Beckum(notes) should have positions locked up. Competing for the job will be Michael Matthews(notes), Lee Vickers(notes) and Darcy Johnson(notes), among others.


Quote To Note: “You can tell it’s time to get back on the field. Your body clock tells you that. It’s time to see how the young guys react to the veterans and how quickly they can assimilate. It’s a good time of year, even without putting on the pads.”—Coach Tom Coughlin on the opening of the OTA sessions.


Strategy And Personnel


Franchise Player: RB Brandon Jacobs: Tendered at $6.621M; signed four-year contract Feb. 25.






• K John Carney(notes).


• DE Jerome McDougle(notes).


• CB/KR R.W. McQuarters(notes).


• G/C Grey Ruegamer(notes).


• LB Rich Scanlon(notes).


• WR Amani Toomer(notes).


• QB Anthony Wright(notes).




• RB Kay-Jay Harris(notes) (not tendered as ERFA).








• QB David Carr(notes): Potential UFA; $2.1M/1 yr, $1M SB.


• CB Kevin Dockery(notes): RFA; $1.545M/1 yr.


• RB Brandon Jacobs: FFA; $25M/4 yrs; $13M guaranteed.


• RB Danny Ware(notes): ERFA; $460,000/1 yr.




• DT Rocky Bernard(notes): UFA Seahawks; $16M/4 yrs, guarantee unknown.


• WR Shaun Bodiford(notes): Not tendered as RFA by Packers; terms unknown.


• LB Michael Boley(notes): UFA Falcons; $25M/5 yrs, $11M guaranteed.


• S C.C. Brown(notes): UFA Texans; $1.4M/1 yr, $400,000 SB/$300,000 base guarantee.


• OT Andrew Carnahan(notes) (waivers Chiefs).


• DE Chris Canty(notes): UFA Cowboys; $42M/6 yrs, $8.5M SB/$17.25M guaranteed.


• G/C Tutan Reyes(notes): FA; terms unknown.


• TE George Wrighster(notes): FA; terms unknown.




• WR Plaxico Burress (released).


• SS James Butler(notes): UFA Rams; $14M/4 yrs, guarantees unknown.


• S Craig Dahl(notes): Not tendered as ERFA/Rams; terms unknown.


• RB Reuben Droughns(notes) (released).


• SS Sammy Knight(notes) (released).


• CB Sam Madison(notes) (released).


• RB Derrick Ward(notes): UFA Buccaneers; $24M/5 yrs, guarantees unknown.


• DE Renaldo Wynn(notes): UFA Redskins; 1 yrs, terms unknown.


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Good news: Best Giant tickets are still available. Bad news: They cost 20G


Saturday, May 30th 2009, 4:40 PM



Thanks to the dreaded PSLs, nearly 4,000 of the best seats are still up for grabs.


The Giants used to be the toughest ticket in town. Reasonable prices, too. Clearing their waiting list would take a lifetime, or two. Season tickets were passed down from generation to generation.


Think about this: In a typical year, the Giants would reach only about 100-200 deep into their waiting list, representing 200-400 tickets, the numbers fluctuating slightly depending on price increases and how the team did the previous season. For so many years, the waiting list was 20,000, which meant for those at the back of the line, the wait was at least 100 years. Imagine slowly moving up all the way to No. 1,000. And then it still would take another five years.


Now, as a result of the dreaded PSLs, nearly 4,000 of the best and most expensive Giants seats are still available with 16 months remaining before the Giants and Jets open their $1.7 billion stadium. And the Giants have gone through their entire 140,000-member waiting list. The list increased by 120,000 in the seasons since 2003, when the Giants initiated the ticket exchange program that allowed fans to buy individual game tickets from season ticket holders. In order to take part in the program, fans had to add their names to the season ticket waiting list.


Every Giants ticket in the 82,500-seat stadium carries a PSL charge and that has created a situation that was unthinkable in Giants Stadium: Anybody who wants a Giants season ticket can still buy one if they can come up with an extraordinary amount of money in the worst economic conditions in decades.


But here's the good news: Because the Giants sold out all of their non-club seats by the end of March, the NFL confirmed to the Daily News that Giants home games in the new stadium will not be blacked out. Blackout rules pertain to just the non-premium seats and the Giants have sold all of those. The nearly 4,000 tickets that remain are part of the 9,300 club seats. More than half of the 200-plus suites have been sold. But even if the Giants don't sell another club seat or suite, the home games will not be blacked out.


The Jets have been working on a different timetable and are not as far along as the Giants, but Matt Higgins, the executive VP of business operations, said the Jets are very confident they will also sell out and avoid blackouts.


Giants co-owner John Mara said he's not worried that the bad economy makes for bad timing and will lead to empty seats on opening day in 2010. As of last week, about 500 of the 2,000 Coach's Club seats were not sold. The Coach's Club area is located right behind the Giants' bench and will be visible on television whenever the cameras shoot the sidelines. Surely, the Giants are aware of what's been on at Yankee Stadium with empty seats behind home plate.


We are all very confident we will be sold out prior to the opening of the building," Mara told The News. "The economy certainly has had an effect. But I can't say it would have been a slam dunk sale at those prices two to five years ago. We know we have a good product. When we head into this season and football is front and center in the news again, we are very confident we are going to sell out."


If the Maras and Tisches and Woody Johnson couldn't build this stadium on their own and without PSLs, they should have stayed in Giants Stadium. There was a downside to that as well, however: It would have cost New Jersey hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrades to fulfill its contractual obligation to keep Giants Stadium state-of-the art.


While the PSLs have made once impossible-to-get Giants tickets possible, it's a tribute to the loyalty of Giants fans that less than 4,000 tickets remain (not including the suites) more than a year ahead of the stadium's opening in such a bad time economically. "We are very aware of the fact we have very loyal fan support in this area," Mara said.


The Giants say they have sold 95% of the seats with 90% of their current season ticket holders purchasing PSLs. Some have bought more than their current allotment, some less. Some have upgraded to more expensive seats, some have downgraded.


Any fan who currently has an upper deck seat with a $1,000 PSL - the lowest in the stadium - can remain there and not worry about getting bumped out by fans with more seniority wanting to move upstairs. The $1,000 investment (with $85 and $95 per-game tickets) can certainly appreciate over the years and is not a bad deal, relatively speaking.


The Coach's Club seats come with a PSL price tag of $20,000, a per-game ticket price of $700 per game and a long list of amenities the average fan can live without. Two game tickets in that section cost $14,000 per year for the eight regular season games plus two in the preseason. No wonder 25% of those seats remain.


The $20,000 PSL seats with a $160 per game price behind the visitor's bench have sold out. The remaining available clubs seats are in Mezzanine A, between the 20s, with a $12,500 PSL and $500 per game price, and Mezzanine B, in the four corners, with a $7,500 PSL and $400 per game price. More than half of the 200-plus suites have been sold.


"We think it has gone very, very well," Mara said. "We sold out in all the non-premium areas. I don't think you will find many buildings that have been constructed in recent years where that was the case nearly 1 1/2 years prior to opening. We have 90% of our season ticket holders coming over to the new stadium and that is something we are very pleased about."


Prior to selling out the non-club seat PSLs, the Giants opened up the sale to the first 40,000 on their waiting list. The majority of the remaining non-club PSLs were purchased by the top 25,000 on the waiting list. The rest went to the next 15,000 on the list. The team is continuing to make club seat sales to those on the waiting list. They are also reaching out to business partners, sponsors and season ticket holders.


But the Giants have basically gone though enough people on the waiting list to fill two buildings and they still have tickets remaining.


"We are asking for pretty significant prices for the seats and given what is going on with the economy, I can't say we are surprised about it," Mara said.


The one concession the Giants and Jets have made to the economy is with the suites. When they first went on sale, fans had to buy them for both teams, which is how it's done at Giants Stadium. A few months ago, they were given the option of buying for either or both.


Bad timing for a new stadium with PSLs? "It is what it is," Mara said. "We didn't foresee the downturn in the economy."


The stadium, meanwhile, is still nameless. The expectation was the naming rights would bring in $25 million-$30 million per year in a 25-30 year deal. But is any company prepared, in this economy, to make that commitment? Jerry Jones had to settle for Cowboys Stadium for now with his new building opening this season. What will the new stadium in the Meadowlands be called if there is no sponsor? Maybe one week it can be called Giants Stadium. And the next week it can be called Jets Stadium. It can always be called expensive.


Latest stroke of Mangenius


Eric Mangini's eighth annual camp for underprivileged kids in Hartford this weekend shows he indeed has a charitable side. And he enlisted the help of the Browns' rookie class to help him. Nice touch. But Mangini sent the rookies there on a nearly 10-hour bus trip which left Cleveland at 10:30 a.m. Friday and arrived in Hartford at 8 p.m. Meanwhile, Mangini and his coaching staff traveled to Hartford by plane. The rookies' attendance was optional, but all 19 made the trip. Is a first-year player fighting for a roster spot going to turn down the head coach even if it means 20 hours on a bus in less than 48 hours? Mangini still doesn't get it. Having the rookies help out can promote team bonding and is great for the 800 campers. At least Mangini planned to take the bus home with the players yesterday when the camp was scheduled to end around 4:30 p.m. What is this, Single-A baseball? The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the rookies and their agents were not happy about the transportation. And it comes off two weeks of voluntary minicamp and precedes this week's OTAs.



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Manning adjusting to new-look WR corps


June 1, 2009 5:06 PM


Posted by ESPN.com's Sal Paolantonio





Eli Manning knows exactly what happened last year.



"We had a good shot at repeating. We were playing good football. And we let one slip away," he said, looking around the Giants' brand new locker room. "We all talked about it -- the guys in this room have talked about it. We all know what's at stake here. We think we have something special -- just like last year."


But last year, that something special -- an 11-1 start -- was shot down, literally, when Pro Bowl wide receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the thigh and was arrested for illegal possession of a handgun in Manhattan. He was suspended for the final four games of the season.


The Giants could not beat the Eagles and exited the playoffs in the second round -- at home, no less. In the final 23 quarters of the season, with Burress at home nursing his self-inflicted wound, Manning did not throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.


Fast forward to Monday morning, the beginning of Manning's sixth NFL season. He has a Lombardi Trophy in his case. But as he hungers for another title shot, he begins the 2009 without a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver.


On the first play of the morning practice, he strolled up to the line of scrimmage with that near-nonchalant gait of his and looked at the Giants' first-team offense. Burress is long gone, released by the team. Also released: Amani Toomer, who was unceremoniously jettisoned after 13 seasons in New York.


Instead, playing in the No. 1 spot was Steve Smith, the third-year pro out of USC who is moving from the slot position he occupied in 2008. On the other side was Domenik Hixon, the speedy kick returner who is being asked to assume a more dominant role in an offense that sputtered down the stretch last season.


"No Plax, no Toomer -- it feels different without those guys," said Manning, "but I like this group. It's a competitive group. It's a group that works hard. Nobody's getting any special treatment. Nobody has an ego. It's a group that cares about everybody else. It's a good group."


Indeed, it's a group in every sense of that word: Nobody stands out. In the slot is the underachieving Sinorice Moss, who came out of Miami four years ago with the promise of his brother, Santana, but had just 12 catches and two touchdowns last season. Behind him is Mario Manningham, who never got traction as a rookie in 2008.


David Tyree, coming back from an injury-plagued season, rounds out the top five.


Behind them on the depth chart are the two rookies, Hakeem Nicks, who was drafted in the first round out of North Carolina, and Ramses Barden, a third-round pick out of Cal-Poly.


Those two picks -- a first and a third -- might have been parlayed into a trade for the Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards, a trade the Giants flirted with this spring but not could not get done.


And this is the big question that will hang over this team: Having decided not to pull the trigger on the Edwards trade (or one for disgruntled Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin), do the Giants have enough in this crop of inexperienced, underachieving wide receivers to get back to the NFC Championship Game?


"It's not exactly like starting over, but we are trying right now to get on the same page," said Manning. "I'm trying to learn their body language. I'm trying to talk to them on the field and in the huddle and in the meetings, trying to develop chemistry. You don't want any bad habits to develop."


And Manning said he's got to do some things differently, too. "There is more speed on the field, now, so I have to get the ball out quicker," he said.


For the first time in his career, Manning said he feels more like a coach on the field.


"With some of the young receivers and the young guys at quarterback, I'm just trying to get into it a little more with them and help them out and it's helping me out, too, getting to down the kindergarten level of the offense and keep the basics sharp," he said.


There is particular focus and pressure on Smith, who is moving from the slot to the No. 1 spot.


"I want to play faster, be more productive," said Smith, who averaged just 10.1 yards a catch and had only one touchdown reception last year. "I'm just trying to develop something with Eli."


Smith's mere presence, in fact, the perfect attendance of the entire receiving corps, puts Manning ahead of the game from the years with Burress, who often spent the spring in Miami, working out on his own or with Jeremy Shockey, who was sent packing to New Orleans last year.


There is one guy who loves to see everybody participating -- the head coach.


"It sends the right message," said Tom Coughlin. "It tells everybody that every guy is here for the same reason and trying to help our team be as good as it can be. It is very difficult to get that done when we are not here. Guys are here working. You have the older guys sharing with the younger guys. You have that natural process. And obviously you are trying to create the team concept with everything that you do. And to have everyone here certainly helps escalate that."


But Manning relied so much on Burress, who often drew a double-team and used his size and wingspan to convert poor throws into big plays. Right now, there is no replacement for that threat combination -- no go-to guy who can make Manning look good when he lapses into one of his frequent bouts of inconsistency.


"I don't think you necessarily need that one guy," Manning said. "You can have three or four guys step up. If one guy steps up, he will push the others, no question."


Right now, with practice in shorts and helmets, Manning is impressed by the two rookies. Hicks is clearly polished and will no doubt push to be the starting slot receiver. And at 6-foot-6, Barden looks like a nice red-zone battery mate -- he better be because Barden has virtually no separation speed.


"They both catch the ball with ease, very naturally," said Manning. "When you're thinking too much, the first thing to go are the hands. And we haven't seen that with them."


But right now both are buried on the depth chart, trying to learn the intricacies of offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride's offense, and learning to block, which is critical when the Giants roll out a heavy does of Brandon Jacobs, which is often.

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Osi Umenyiora's still pushing to return to Giants at top of his game


BY Ralph Vacchiano



Tuesday, June 2nd 2009, 4:00 AM






Osi Umenyiora had nine months off before he returned to practice with the Giants last week, thanks to his injured left knee. Three practices later, he's convinced he can pick up right where he left off.


"I would hope so," the Giants' defensive end said Monday.


"You never can tell what's going to happen, but I still feel like I'm one of the best, if not the best defensive end in football right now. I feel quick. I feel explosive. I don't feel like I should be stopped one-on-one."


If he's right, the return of Umenyiora should be a huge boost to the Giants' defense this season.


He was their lone returning Pro Bowler last summer when he tore the meniscus in his left knee in a preseason game on Aug. 23. He opted for surgery and spent the season on injured reserve, which left the Giants' pass rush thinner than expected.


Now he's back and says his knee has been pain-free. And it's felt good since he and linemates Mathias Kiwanuka and Jay Alford took to the field about two months ago for twice-a-week, 90-minute, pass rushing drills.


"It's been holding up well for the last couple of months," Umenyiora said. "I haven't really felt any pain in it. I feel like it's ready to go."


All that's left, according to the 27-year-old who is now the longest tenured member of the Giant defense, is to get himself back into football shape.


He's had those nine months to rest his body, and his rehabilitation was rigorous. But there's nothing that could prepare him for being back for full-speed drills on the field.


"(My body) feels good right now. It feels great," Umenyiora said.


"But football shape is different than regular shape. Even out there today, after we ran like three plays, I was like 'Man ...' I felt it a little bit. And I've been running. I felt like I was in good shape before. But football shape is totally different. You can't simulate that."


ACHES AND PAINS: Rookie LB Clint Sintim left practice with his a strained right hamstring. ... CB Corey Webster (hip flexor), LB Michael Boley (hip flexor), DT Fred Robbins (knee) and DT Barry Cofield (knee) were all limited to individual drills. ... Of the 89 players on the roster, only one was missing - K Lawrence Tynes, who was excused to host a charity golf tournament.



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All the Giants hard at work, for a change


Football is not just a part-time job, and it looks like the Giants - all the Giants - are finally beginning to get that.


The Giants had an impressive 98.8 percent attendance at today’s organized team activity (OTA) session, and the 1.2 percent that was missing - kicker Lawrence Tynes - had a good excuse (a charity golf event) that he had long ago told Tom Coughlin about. By all accounts, the OTA attendance was just as good at the first two sessions last week, too, and it will likely stay close to that number between now and the mandatory mini-camp that starts on June 16.


Of course, you don’t have to think back too far to remember a time when too many Giants emphasized the word “voluntary” that is placed before these OTAs in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Plaxico Burress and Jeremy Shockey were almost always no-shows. Amani Toomer missed more than a few for some of his world travels. Antonio Pierce didn’t always have perfect attendance. Neither did Michael Strahan nor Osi Umenyiora.


The majority of the team was usually there. But that majority was hardly ever close to 98.8 percent.


Back then, of course, if you asked anybody but the coach about the importance of attending the offseason workout program and/or the OTAs, the answer was always that it was really no big deal, that there was plenty of time for the missing players to catch up. I always argued that players had a responsibility to their teams to attend, even if the sessions were technically voluntary, and that given how much money they make from July through January, the least they could do is show up for a few workouts in May and June.


Besides, the truly great players and great teams have no problem putting in that extra work and time. And plenty of truly great players from truly great teams have told me that over the years. And I always felt that most of the players knew that, too, and that when they would excuse their teammates from missing the workouts and OTAs they were just covering for those players, trying not to stir up trouble in the press.


So, now that everybody is attending, what do the Giants think about the importance of OTAs now? It turns out they think they’re pretty important after all.


“You have the guys around the locker room, just hanging out, eating lunch together, those types of things, it makes the team closer,” said quarterback Eli Manning, one of the ones who often excused the absentee players. “It makes everybody feel comfortable around each other. Everybody’s the same, no one’s getting special treatment, special attention. I think we have a great group of guys here. They come in and work. No one has an ego about anything. We’re here to practice hard and have some fun also.”


Umenyiora, who admittedly would often skip the OTAs, attributed the new attitude to the youth on the Giants.


“I don’t think there are too many older guys who have been in the league for that long. Those are the guys that tend to not come because they’ve been in the league so long that missing an OTA doesn’t mean anything to them,” he said. “These guys out here are so hungry. Everybody’s fighting and jockeying for position, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to be on the football field. You feel like if you miss one day, somebody might get a leg up on you. So everybody’s out here fighting their butts off for that position.


“I think it’s necessary. You never want to get too comfortable or lackadaisical, because this is a job. If you want to be a good professional football player, you should be working most of the time and not taking days off like that.”


Amen to that.


Whatever the reason for the renewed enthusiasm for the OTAs, it’s safe to say Tom Coughlin is glad his message about the importance of offseason workouts and OTAs finally has gotten completely through.


“It sends the right message,” he said. “It tells everybody that every guy is here for the same reason and trying to help our team be as good as it can be. It is very difficult to get that done when we are not here. Guys are here working. You have the older guys sharing with the younger guys. You have that natural process. And obviously you are trying to create the team concept with everything that you do. And to have everyone here certainly helps escalate that. “


No excuses


Today may have been my first day in the new press room, but the Giants have been in their new practice facility for a couple of weeks now. They’re all excited about the new practice fields - which they can’t use until their back from training camp (they were on their old practice field today) - the enormous weight room and their huge, football-shaped locker room with a sun roof in the middle. The whole facility, really, is beautiful in a tasteful, but not splashy way.


Still, it’s taking them some time to get adjusted. Even Coughlin admitted that “people are still wandering around” and “sometimes I come down stairs and take a wrong turn and I can’t figure out where I am.”


Well, if the coach can’t find his way around the building, then surely it would be OK if a player was late for a meeting because he got lost in the new hallways, right?


“No,” Coughlin said. “That won’t fly.”


Replacement players


Forgot to mention this earlier … With CB Corey Webster (hip flexor) out, Kevin Dockery took his place on the first unit. Gerris Wilkinson filled in as the first-team weakside LB with Michael Boley (hip flexor) on the sidelines. And with DTs Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield limited as they recover from knee surgery, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard obviously got all the first-team time at their positions. Canty figures to be a starter anyway, but a few weeks ago, Cofield said he’s still the starter at the spot Bernard was playing today.


The starting receivers, as expected, were Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith. Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss were the second-team receivers. As you know, Moss will go into camp as the No. 3.


Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/giants/20...0HMiIvJAC&B


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Giants DT Fred Robbins recovering from microfracture surgery on knee


By Ralph Vacchiano



Updated Wednesday, June 3rd 2009, 4:51 PM




Fred Robbins' arthroscopic knee surgery was actually a "microfracture" procedure, which could cause the Giants defensive tackle to miss the start of training camp and may put his future in doubt.


The 32-year-old revealed that in a blog this week and said his knee is "getting strong and healthier each day." However, it often takes six months to recover from the procedure, which would push Robbins' recovery close to the start of camp on Aug. 3. Many athletes have taken even longer, and some have never been the same after the surgery.


The 6-4, 317-pound Robbins isn't participating in the Giants' organized team activities, and Tom Coughlin said he won't participate in minicamp (June 16-18). On Monday, Coughlin said Robbins' recovery "is going to be a little slower" than that of defensive tackle Barry Cofield, who had arthroscopic knee surgery after the Giants' season ended on Jan. 11.


Knowing Robbins' recovery could be slow, and that he's entering the last year of his contract, the Giants added two defensive tackles in free agency - Rocky Bernard (four years, $16 million) and Chris Canty (six years, $42 million). Before signing them, the Giants also went hard after Albert Haynesworth, offering him what he said was an $80 million deal, before he signed with the Redskins.



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Ex-Giant Tiki Barber is a forgotten man at NBC


Saturday, June 6th 2009, 1:28 PM



Tiki Barber's second career isn't going quite as planned.


The room, crowded and well-lit, was illuminated even more by Tiki Barber's 1,000-watt smile. This was back in 2007 when NBC thought it landed the next big star in sports television.


Barber was not the only one smiling as he arrived at the podium that day in February to be introduced as a new correspondent for the "Today" program and analyst for NBC's "Football Night in America" pregame show. The suits were smiling, too. After all, these Peacock honchos had beaten out ABC's "Good Morning America" and ESPN for the highly touted Barber.


"Tiki Barber is one of those rare personalities who appeals to virtually every audience imaginable," NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker said. "I'm thrilled that he's found his new home here at NBC, and I'm confident that this next phase of his career will be an unqualified success."


The scene back then, and Zucker's words, came to mind last week when NBC Sports boss Dick Ebersol announced, with significantly less fanfare, he was adding the gentlemanly Tony Dungy, along with cheap shot artist Rodney Harrison, to "FNIA's" studio cast.


The new hires are a legitimate story, but His EbNess slid another one through the back-door. Somewhere in some report, or a perfunctory press release about the additions, it was barely, barely, barely, mentioned that Barber would serve as an "on-site reporter," a role he began midway through the 2008 season when he was banished from the studio, on the Sunday night game.


What Ebersol meant to say is that Tiki ain't going to get much face time on Sunday night. And, though we can't break it down to minutes and seconds, Barber, who once aspired to rise to a Matt Lauer level, is not exactly a major presence on the "Today" show either.


There's no way around it, Barber's stock has plummeted. He's the TV equivalent of General Motors, but there ain't no bailout coming his way. Maybe Barber can turn things around, maybe he gets in a groove this season.


After all, when he retired from the Giants he had so much potential. Barber was an excellent communicator who spoke his mind. Still, in his two years at NBC he has not been able to live up to the hype.


"Tiki made some improvement last season, but he still came over as somewhat buttoned-down and elite, as opposed to (Jerome) Bettis, who was an everyman kind of guy," an industry executive said.


At least Barber still has the NBC gig. Ebersol did not renew Bus' contract. But Ebersol, and the other brainiacs who decided to pay huge bucks for Barber, made a terrible investment.


By no means would this be the first time a marquee football player bombed on TV. Joe Namath (NBC/ABC) and Joe Montana (NBC) are two good examples.


Then again, Barber was a slow starter when he came to the Giants. Now, considering he probably won't get much air time, he will have to rip off the TV version of a desperation touchdown run to get his career back on track.


Tiki Barber is facing yet another challenge.


It's fourth-and-long. Time is running out.



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Barry Cofield and Fred Robbins tackle Giant knee injury issues


BY Ralph Vacchiano



Saturday, June 6th 2009, 4:00 AM



Defensive tackle Barry Cofield is describing the procedure he had on his left knee as "an advanced 'scope."


It's starting to become a little clearer why the Giants spent $58 million on two free-agent defensive tackles this offseason.


Just a few days after veteran tackle Fred Robbins revealed that he had microfracture surgery in February, Giants coach Tom Coughlin wouldn't say if defensive tackle Barry Cofield had a similar surgery, too. Last month, Cofield described the procedure he had on his left knee as "an advanced 'scope."


Microfracture surgery is an arthroscopic procedure that is considered more serious than a simple 'scope, and sometimes requires six months or more for a full recovery.


Having that surgery in February could make it difficult for either defensive tackle to be ready for the start of training camp on Aug.3. And that could be why the Giants signed defensive tackles Rocky Bernard (four years, $16 million) and Chris Canty (six years, $42 million).


Coughlin did say that Cofield's surgery "was not the same procedure" as the one Robbins had. But when he was specifically asked if it was a microfracture procedure, the coach said, "You know what? That's not going to come from me. (Cofield) had a 'scope and he's doing well. You see him running."


Actually, neither Cofield, 25, nor Robbins, 32, has done much during the Giants' organized team activity sessions so far, and Coughlin said they won't be participating in the June 16-18 mandatory minicamp either. The Giants haven't given a timetable for the return of either player, although Coughlin did say Robbins' recovery is going slower than that of Cofield.


"We're looking at a guy that's made really good progress," Coughlin said of Robbins. "According to (trainer) Ronnie Barnes, (Robbins) is on schedule or ahead of schedule. He was non-weight-bearing for a while, but it was a minimal amount of time for someone who had microfracture (surgery). He seems to be on schedule. We're just going to have to see how it goes."


FRESH START: LB Antonio Pierce said Friday he's eager to put a disappointing and troublesome 2008 season behind him. "It's going to be the old AP," he said. "It's going to be a new look. I'm excited about it being a new year, new experience, and a different guy." ... LB Clint Sintim (hamstring), LB Michael Boley (hip), WR David Tyree (knee) and Bernard (shoulder) were held out of practice.... LB Danny Clark and DE Justin Tuck were the only players not present at the "voluntary" workout.



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Giants head coach Tom Coughlin will visit combat troops


BY Ralph Vacchiano



Tuesday, June 9th 2009, 4:00 AM




Tom Coughlin has spoken often about his admiration and respect for U.S. troops serving overseas. Now he's going to get a chance to tell them himself.


Coughlin will be part of the NFL's inaugural USO Coaches Tour, which will head to the war zones later this month. He'll be joined by Titans coach Jeff Fisher, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and former NFL coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden on a trip that will likely take him through both Afghanistan and Iraq.


"I have always had great respect for those who served," Coughlin said. "In my time, we had the draft. Today, these people who are in Iraq and Afghanistan are volunteers. To spend time with them is to be able to sense the intelligence and the passion of these people and to stand in admiration and awe of this combination."


Coughlin has always done his best to support U.S. troops. Last year, he took the Giants to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington prior to their visit to the White House as Super Bowl champions. And he struck up a friendship with Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both his legs in Iraq and become a fixture on the Giants' sidelines during their Super Bowl run.


Coughlin also became friends with Ray Odierno, the chief commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, who is a Giants fan from Rockaway, N.J. On his way to Iraq, Odierno stopped at Giants training camp in August of 2008 to again meet with Coughlin and address the team.


ANOTHER GOOD CAUSE: Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will be speaking at the NYU Medical Center tomorrow to help raise awareness of and support the fight against polycystic kidney disease (PKD) - an incurable, hereditary disease that has long afflicted his family. He'll be speaking about the Super Bowl run and will take questions from the audience. Tickets are free, but space is limited. For more information e-mail TriStateWalk@pkdcure.org.



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Oh man Gilbride is at NYU....I would go and could easily get in but I have to go with my youngest daughter's NY Aquarium trip...lol. Well maybe its for the best as he is there for a good cause and I will probably ask him about his offensive strategy for that Eagles/Giants playoff game. :)

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Oh man Gilbride is at NYU....I would go and could easily get in but I have to go with my youngest daughter's NY Aquarium trip...lol. Well maybe its for the best as he is there for a good cause and I will probably ask him about his offensive strategy for that Eagles/Giants playoff game. :)




You should go!!

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NFL star Jacobs taking swing at boxing biz

Associated Press

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Updated: June 10, 2009, 7:20 PM EDT



NEW YORK (AP) - Brandon Jacobs isn't waiting until his NFL playing days are over before deciding what he wants to do next.


The New York Giants star is breaking into professional boxing — but not as a promoter or fighter, although the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder might make a bruising heavyweight. Instead, Jacobs wants to be a manager, the behind-the-scenes guy who signs and molds young fighters, just maybe taking one or two of them to the top.



"I do have my day job, but this is something I look at and take very seriously, because it's another guy's livelihood in the palm of my hand," Jacobs told The Associated Press on Wednesday at a news conference ahead of Miguel Cotto's welterweight title fight against Joshua Clottey.


"I've been wanting to get into this business after I was done playing."


The average career of an NFL player is 3 1/2 seasons, according to the NFL Players Association. Even stars like Jacobs, who ran for 1,089 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Giants last season, are usually finished by their early 30s.


Some open restaurants and sports bars, some begin working in financial services, others end up in the broadcast booth. But the 26-year-old Jacobs has always had an interest in the "sweet science," and put together an impressive amateur career growing up in Louisiana. He lost only twice in more than 30 fights.


When Jacobs began considering colleges, he could only find a few that even had boxing clubs. He wound up at Southern Illinois, hung up the gloves and dedicated himself to football, and a few years later helped lead the Giants to the Super Bowl.


"I've been into boxing a long time, boxing is something that has driven me very much," said Jacobs, who still tries to spar in the gym once in a while.


"I've been wanting to get into the business after I was done playing. If I didn't fight, I wanted to get into the promotion business, but I hear from people that's a lot of headache, so I wanted to do something that was more personable with the fighters."


Jacobs has known former junior welterweight champion Kendall Holt for years, and when Holt had a falling out with his management team, he asked Jacobs to fill in. Next thing he knew, Jacobs was signing papers that made him a pro manager.


While admittedly a novice when it comes to the intricacies of contracts, securing venues, marketing and promotions, Jacobs has found plenty of support from the boxing community.


Top Rank, one of the biggest promotional companies in the sport, has lent some guidance, and Jacobs is teaming with longtime manager Pat Lynch, who helped guide the career of former champ and popular brawler Arturo Gatti.


"We're looking to sign some young fighters. We've got one on the radar screen we'll try to have under contract next week," Lynch said of their newfound partnership. "Brandon is a very knowledgeable guy in the boxing business. He knows a lot."


Jacobs plans to be ringside for the Cotto-Clottey fight Saturday night, and he's bringing more than a dozen of his Giants teammates with him.


His constant discussion of the sport has turned many of them into boxing fans as well.


"It's early for me, so I'm just trying to get my feet wet," Jacobs said. "And we're just trying to get things set in stone and just trying to get my next career going right now."

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Naming-rights deal puts logos on Giants' practice jerseys


BY Ralph Vacchiano



Thursday, June 18th 2009, 4:00 AM

Harbus for News


John Mara and Giants announce naming-rights deal that includes selling space on practice jerseys of Eli Manning and Co.


The Giants organization, once one of the most conservative and traditional in the NFL, is jumping into the world of corporate synergy with a sponsor's logo on their practice jersey, and their own logo on state lottery tickets.


Their first step toward blurring the lines between sports and business took place Wednesday in their sparkling new practice facility, which was renamed the Timex Performance Center. As a result of their 15-year naming rights deal, worth a reported $35million, a small Timex patch will appear on both their blue and white practice jerseys this summer.


It'll be placed on the front of the left shoulder, where the Super Bowl XLII patch was two years ago.


NFL owners voted to allow such patches at the league meetings back in March. The Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans are among the teams expected to wear sponsors' patches, too. The NFL does not allow corporate logos on game jerseys - at least not yet.


Meanwhile, Giants co-owner John Mara confirmed his organization is trying to take advantage of another new rule voted on by owners, allowing teams to place their logos on state lottery tickets. Mara acknowledged the team is negotiating with the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut state lotteries to put a Giants logo on certain scratch-off lottery tickets, and to offer Giants-themed prizes to lottery winners.


"We're in discussions with all three (states)," Mara said. "But we have nothing to announce yet."


It's not known how much money a lottery deal will net the Giants, but the $35million they will earn from the Timex partnership is small compared to what awaits them with the new $1.6 billion stadium they are sharing with the Jets. Reportedly, the Giants and Jets are already getting a combined $8million per year from each of three companies - MetLife, Verizon and Anheuser-Busch - which are sponsoring three of the four "corners" of the new stadium. The teams expect to have a fourth "cornerstone" sponsor in place by this fall.


The teams are also seeking $25 million-$30 million per year for the naming rights to the entire building, although they are not close to finding a sponsor willing to meet their price yet.


"We've had some companies lately that we've had some discussions with," Mara said. "We hadn't had discussions for some amount of time, so at least we're seeing some interest out there."


All of that income, of course, will help them finance the new stadium, along with the expensive personal seat licenses (PSLs) both teams are selling to fans. Mara said the stadium is still on schedule to be completed in time to open next April with "some sort of (college) lacrosse event."


Tom takes 'em out to ballgame

After practice Wednesday, Tom Coughlin took his entire team by bus to Yankee Stadium for the Yankees-Nationals game. It's the third straight year he has used one night of minicamp for a team-bonding event. He held a Casino Night in 2007 and hired comedians to entertain the players in '08.


Out of site


Now that the Giants are in their new practice facility, this could be their final summer of training camp at the University at Albany. Their contract with the school ends this year. "That's certainly a possibility," co-owner John Mara said. "We still need to talk as an organization about what we want to do. Do we want to go up there for the full four weeks, or just two weeks, or maybe not at all?



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Quarterback Eli Manning aiming high in quest for next Giant payday

BY Ralph Vacchiano

dAILY news sports writer


Friday, June 19th 2009, 6:01 AM

Harbus for News




Eli Manning is still in line to get one of the most lucrative contracts in NFL history. He is just going to have to wait a little longer than expected.


Manning and the Giants remain far apart in their negotiations on a new deal, according to two NFL sources with knowledge of the talks. Nobody is panicking, even though 2009 is the last year of Manning's rookie contract, and both sides expect a deal will eventually get done.


But they had originally hoped to do it this spring, with the Giants prepared to make Manning one of the NFL's richest players. According to one source, Manning's agents "want to make him the highest-paid player." Another source suggested the Super Bowl XLII MVP's initial asking price was up near an average of $20 million per year.


Neither Manning nor co-owner John Mara would discuss details when asked during Giants minicamp this week. And when Manning, whose original six-year deal was worth $45 million to $54 million, was asked if he wanted to be the NFL's highest-paid player, he said, "I don't have an ego about that.


"I'll leave it to my agent and the Giants," Manning said. "They'll figure out all the details. My job is to prepare, get this team ready and let everything else play itself out."


Though $20 million per year might be too high, league sources expect Manning - who will make $9.4 million this season - eventually will get a deal worth around $15 million per year. Several league executives and NFL agents expect the final package to be for seven or eight years and be worth around $110 million-$120 million, with more than $40 million in guaranteed money.


The largest contract in NFL history was the 10-year, $130 million deal (with $37 million in guarantees) the Atlanta Falcons gave Michael Vick in 2003. The seven-year, $98 million contract Peyton Manning got in 2004 averaged $14 million per season, which was an NFL high until this spring when the Oakland Raiders signed cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to a complicated, three-year, $45 million deal that could average $15 million per.


The Giants know the price will be high, but they have no intention of letting Manning hit free agency. Even if he plays out his contract, they likely would place the franchise tag on him next March to prevent him from going anyplace.


"Obviously we want him to spend the rest of his career here, and we'll reach an agreement in due time," Mara said. "But I can't guess when that will be."


Manning couldn't guess either, but he said the timing doesn't matter.


"I signed a six-year deal and I have one more year," Manning said. "Something could happen before the season starts, but I'm not worried about it right now. I hope (it'll get done). I've had a great five years here. I love the organization, I love my teammates. I hope they feel the same way. But we'll see. You never know."


PRICE IS WRIGHT: CB DeAndre Wright, the Giants' sixth-round pick, agreed to a four-year deal that could be worth as much as $4 million. . . . Tom Coughlin's message to players Thursday at the end of their three-day minicamp was to remember the "bitter bitterness" of how they collapsed at the end of last season. "They need to think long and hard about the disappointment of January," he said. . . . Eighteen players missed at least one practice due to injuries. DE Justin Tuck and G Chris Snee were excused Thursday for personal reasons. . . . Players are off now until Aug. 2, when they report to training camp in Albany.



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Giants wrap up minicamp determined not to repeat playoff loss


Associated Press


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After blowing the final whistle to end a three-day minicamp on Thursday, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin gathered his team in the corner of the fieldhouse and gave them a passionate 18-minute speech.


The message? Do not forget the disappointment of 2008.


Coming off a Super Bowl win, the Giants (12-4) posted the best record in the NFC and then flopped at home in their first playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.



"They need to think long and hard about the disappointment of January in terms of what we have created for ourselves and how badly we want to prioritize our 2009 season," Coughlin said.


Veterans said there were four key points to Coughlin's message heading into the six-week vacation before the opening of training camp at the University at Albany in August.


Remember last year. Work hard to be ready for camp. Be accountable to your teammates on and off the field -- a clear reference to receiver Plaxico Burress letting down the team last season by shooting himself in the leg.


The final thought pertained to the team as a whole. Coughlin let the players know this was a group that still had all the ingredients and was capable of winning another Super Bowl.


"This year, what I am saying is that, 'Stop and think about the bitterness of the January situation,' and then realize that as in, for example, the Laker team, you can focus on that as a primary motivational position to take," Coughlin said, referring to the Los Angeles Lakers winning an NBA title a year after losing in the finals. "And let that be something that you train for over the summer, the idea of getting to and surpassing the circumstance that we were in a year ago."


Defensive tackle Barry Cofield thinks the Giants built a solid base in the offseason with most of the players working hard at the voluntary workouts.


The difficult part now will be to continue the work over the next six weeks.


"We need to make sure we are in great shape when we get back," Cofield said. "It used to be you would go to camp to get in shape. Now it's a year-round job and you're expected to be ready to go when you get there. Guys are going to take that seriously and I am sure the memory of last year will give them all the extra motivation they need."


Running back Brandon Jacobs felt certain the Giants were a team that was capable of defending its Super Bowl title last season.


"We stubbed our toes. ... and didn't deliver," Jacobs said. "It's a new season and we got a new team and a lot of young talent. We are ready to go."


Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said it's hard not to be excited about next season when he looks around the locker room.


"We have all the pieces here," Kiwanuka said. "Like I said, we have to prove that week in and week out, or else it means nothing."


Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride enjoyed Coughlin's speech.


"I thought he spoke from the heart, I really did," Gilbride said. "And I thought he addressed the things that needed to be said. I kind of like when he does that because I'm thinking, 'You know what, he is hitting, he is right on the mark with some of the things that he is saying.'


"We feel good about where we are at but we also know that if we don't have those guys back health-wise and guys aren't in the right frame of mind, or in the right level of conditioning, then we are not going to make the progress."

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Big Opportunity, With A Catch: Pressure

Young Giants' receivers better be ready to replace Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer

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Chadiha By Jeffri Chadiha






EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' wide receivers know what they'll be facing this season. There will be doubters and haters, skeptics and cynics, and people who will wait to see just how this offense functions without veteran free agents Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer.


Their replacements realize they have much to prove. They see that their development is vital to the Giants' chances of staying on top of the NFC East.



But here's the first thing the youngsters have going for them: diversity. While Burress was the top target and Toomer served as a dependable second option, this year's targets offer a variety of eager weapons for quarterback Eli Manning. They have size (Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks), quickness (Steve Smith and Mario Manningham) and speed (Sinorice Moss).


Now they just need to become consistent performers when the games start counting. That's what everybody around the Giants realizes. And it's that responsibility that has provided ample motivation for these players.


"I feel like there is a big chip on our shoulders because you hear a lot of things," Moss said. "[You hear people saying,] 'They don't have Plax. They don't have Amani. So these guys may not do this.'


"We have Domenik Hixon, Steve Smith, myself, Mario Manningham. I can go down the list of guys that we have who can contribute. So as a group, we look at each other and say, 'Let's go do what we have to do to help this team.'"


Nobody is saying the Giants lack talent at the position. Of the players competing for time this offseason, four were first-day draft picks. The team selected former University of North Carolina star Nicks with the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Moss (2006) and Smith (2007) were second-rounders. Manningham was taken in the third round last year. When you stockpile that many receivers, you expect to see a return on those investments sooner rather than later.


The real problem facing these receivers is mostly perception. People know what Burress did for the Giants before his off-the-field issues -- he's still dealing with charges of illegally possessing a firearm last November -- led the team to release him earlier this offseason. He's the oversized target who made life much easier for Manning. He was the team's leading receiver for three of his four seasons in New York. And when the Giants pulled that dramatic upset over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, it was Burress who caught the winning touchdown pass from Manning.


The Giants initially gave some indication that they could thrive without Burress, as they finished 12-4 despite his suspension for the final four games of last season. But then they sorely missed his playmaking ability in an upset playoff loss to Philadelphia Eagles.


Even Smith acknowledges that life was smoother when Burress was available.


"I definitely felt better when Plax was on the field with us," Smith said. "But after going through last year with some of the guys we have here, I'm pretty sure we can still make the plays when it matters."


One reason to be optimistic about the development of the Giants' receivers is timing. When Burress became a constant problem for the team last season, the Giants' coaches had to ask more of less-experienced players. Now those same coaches can spend more time focusing on how best to use the remaining receivers. Instead of primarily expecting Burress -- and Toomer -- to be reliable, they're able to see just how much they should be asking of the members of this group.


It might sound like a small difference, but the players believe it's significant.


"The time we've had to work together this offseason is basically like a head start on this year," Hixon said. "The coaches can see what we all do well and they're designing routes that work for us. Last year it was mainly about what Plaxico did well. But we're all showing what we can do now."


The biggest change in the Giants' passing game will be the absence of Burress' size. (He's 6-5 and 232 pounds.) That long, sturdy frame gave Manning far more confidence to make throws when Burress looked to be covered. Aside from Hixon (6-2, 182) and Nicks (6-1, 212), the rest of the top receivers are shorter targets. That means they'll have to thrive with disciplined routes and shifty moves to create the separation that Manning will need to complete passes.


At the moment, Smith and Hixon are the best of the bunch. Smith is the most experienced receiver on the roster, as he made some clutch receptions during the Giants' Super Bowl run and caught 57 passes while serving mainly as a third receiver last season. Hixon was the man who stepped into Burress' shoes when Burress became a headache in the fall. He caught 43 passes in seven starts but was noticeably quiet (two receptions for 37 yards) in that playoff loss to Philadelphia.


Moss actually had been the most impressive receiver during this offseason until a hamstring injury sidelined him earlier this week. The Giants also like what they've seen from Manningham, who has turned heads with his flair for the acrobatic catch. Nicks is already scoring points in the chemistry department. When the receivers were contemplating going to dinner last weekend, he quickly volunteered to treat them to steaks at Del Frisco's in Manhattan.


It's that kind of chemistry that could be the secret weapon of this group. But again, unity and potential don't mean anything unless they lead to results on Sundays.


"The big step when we go for real," said Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, "is whether they're going to continue to do the things that right now it seems like they can do."


That is a question that the Giants' receivers are looking forward to answering.


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Summer two-a-days: NFC East, AFC West

by Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager is a frequent contributor for FOXSports.com. You can e-mail him at PeterSchrager@gmail.com


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Updated: June 23, 2009, 4:53 PM EDT


Ah, mid-June. In the world of NFL fandom, it's pure purgatory. Post-draft and OTA's, yet still a few weeks away from summer camps and actual preseason action — you just hold your tongue and watch the calendar. You feign interest in things like baseball and your family, but you're really just thinking football.


Over the next few weeks, we'll tackle five early summer questions for each NFL division.


Today's two-a-days: NFC East | AFC West

NFC East


1. Could the Giants' defense be as good as the '07 Super Bowl version?


In short, the answer is "umm ... yes, yes, yes."


With the additions of veteran studs Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard, New York picked up three legitimate potential Pro Bowl performers via free agency. They also scooped up rookie linebacker Clint Sintim in the second round of April's draft. Sintim, capable of playing either the ILB or OLB position right away, was one of the top-five linebackers in college football last season.


And oh yeah, Osi Umenyiora? The only Pro Bowl performer from that 2007 squad? He returns 100 percent healthy and raring to go. The young defensive backs — Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross, Kenny Phillips — are all a year older and a year wiser. There are virtually no holes across the depth chart.


My one concern? Steve Spagnuolo, the mastermind technician behind the Giants' defense the past two years, is now in St. Louis. His replacement, the capable but virtually unknown Bill Sheridan, should be just fine. Sheridan served as Big Blue's linebackers coach the past four seasons.


But you don't just "replace" a defensive coordinator like Spagnuolo, and if Sheridan's career starts off like Spagnuolo's did two years ago (the Giants gave up a combined 80 points to Dallas and Green Bay in Weeks 1 and 2 of the 2007 season), there will be critics calling for his head as soon as mid-September in the Big Apple.



Spagnuolo was more than just respected by the Giants players and fans. He was beloved. You get that kind of appreciation when your unit is in the top 10 in yards against two straight years. Sheridan has insanely large shoes to fill. No questions there.


One challenge he'll be forced to address early on will be transforming Boley, the longtime Falcon, from ILB to OLB. But the adjustment period Spagnuolo faced coming from Philadelphia won't nearly be the same for Sheridan. He's going to be using many of the same schemes and strategies Spagnuolo did the previous two years. Sheridan's not an import from some foreign defense. He's as Big Blue as any of the guys he'll be coaching.


Personnel-wise, the Giants D looks as strong as the '07 unit. Hell, it can add up with the Parcells '86 and Parcells/Belichick '90 squads. But it's not all about personnel. Bill Sheridan — whoever you are — all eyes are on you.




5. Who's going to catch Eli Manning's passes this year?

Great question. One that a lot of Giants fans are wondering.


Plaxico Burress is gone. Amani Toomer's gone. Jeremy Shockey's long gone. And despite talk of Braylon Edwards and Anquan Boldin this offseason, there were no big-time receivers brought in this winter. What's left? A hodgepodge of young guys and spotty journeymen. Steve Smith, Dominik Hixon, Sinorice Moss, Kevin Boss and Mario Manningham are the returning veteran targets. Those five have combined for a career 193 receptions.


The real intrigue is in first- and third-round picks Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden and Travis Beckum. All three made great impressions in rookie minicamps and OTAs. Alas, they are rookies.


Eli Manning didn't throw a single touchdown pass to a wide receiver following the Plaxico Burress incident last fall. Giants fans are hoping he connects with one this season.


Hopefully, more than once.

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