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Articles for July 25, 2006


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Sinorice ready for big time





Sinorice Moss' size wasn't a problem at the University of Miami, and his ability was big enough to get him picked by the Giants in the second round of the NFL draft. But he still believes most people look at him and don't see a big-time player.


He's convinced the world still sees his 5-8 frame and assumes he's just too small.


"I still think there are people who look at my size and say 'No, he can't play football,' or 'He can't play on the professional level,'" the Giants' rookie receiver said while in Manhattan last week. "I've had a lot of doubters since I've been a little boy. So it's just important for me to keep working hard so I can show the world I can play football on this level."


Moss' chance to make his big mark will begin Friday morning when the Giants hold their first practice of training camp at the University at Albany. Camp officially opens with a picnic tomorrow, and if Moss is signed, he'll report on Thursday with the rest of his new team.


He's already generated plenty of pre-camp buzz, thanks to an impressive performance at the team's minicamp in June. His speed and elusiveness could bring another element to the Giants' already dangerous offense. And considering Eli Manning's other targets - tight end Jeremy Shockey and receivers Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer and Tim Carter - are all 6-feet or taller, Moss' diminutive stature could bring a whole other dimension, too.


After all, 5-9 Steve Smith had 103 catches for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns in Carolina last season. Sinorice's 5-10 brother, Santana, made 84 catches for 1,483 yards and nine scores for the Redskins.


"You tend to like those expectations," Moss admitted. "But hey, there's going to be buzz no matter what. It might be good buzz, it might be bad buzz. It's just important for me to fight through it, let it go in one ear and out the other and continue to keep working. That's the main thing."


Of course, even Moss knows there's little chance that he'll come close to duplicating the numbers of his brother or Smith in his rookie year. Burress (76-1,214-7), Shockey (65-891-7), Toomer (60-684-7) and even Tiki Barber (54-530-2) are ahead of him in Manning's pecking order. And he still has to beat out Carter (10-186) for the No. 3 receiver job.


It's possible Moss' biggest contribution this season will come on special teams, if he challenges Chad Morton for kick-returning duties. His speed and explosiveness makes him a natural for the job, even though he rarely lined up deep at Miami, where he had one punt return for 19 yards and six kickoff returns for 107 yards in four years.


Still, Moss - who caught 57 passes for 965 yards and nine touchdowns in his last two seasons at Miami - has been the second-most talked-about Giant this offseason, behind new linebacker LaVar Arrington. And he's the odds-on favorite to be the young player everyone watches throughout the next month at Albany - or, as veteran Giants center Shaun O'Hara calls it, the annual "training camp god."


Moss, of course, wants to be more than just a training camp sensation.


"I want to come in and show these guys and my teammates that they drafted me for a good reason," he said. "I want to go out there and make plays and do the best I can to show the world that hey, I can play football. If I can do that, I can go out there and have a great year and many great years to come."


Originally published on July 25, 2006

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Revamped Defense Packed For Camp

Lewis Has Plenty Of Weapons, Old And New, At His Disposal This Season


The Giants were beaten, if not actually defeated, long before their 2005 season ended with a 23-0 loss to the Panthers in the first round of the playoffs.


Injuries had slowly eroded the defense of the NFC East champions over the last month of the season. Their linebackers were particularly hard hit, beginning with the high ankle sprain that ended Antonio Pierce's season in Week 13.


Soon Reggie Torbor, Carlos Emmons, Chase Blackburn and replacement Roman Phifer were unable to play, leaving the Giants no choice but to start Alonzo Jackson and Kevin Lewis next to Nick Greisen in the regular season finale and playoff game.


"Well, [the media] likes that word `frustration,'" defensive coordinator Tim Lewis said. "I'm not going to use that word. We were disappointed, but I wasn't frustrated. The fact of the matter is we took over a team that was 4-12 and in two years went 11-5 and the guys are playing hard. You can't control the injury factor."


The Giants approached the offseason intent on solidifying their defense, particularly the back seven. And with training camp beginning Saturday at Albany it appears that goal has been met.


"What excites me the most is the personnel we acquired," Lewis said. "I'm feeling really good. I'm ready to go. You never know from year to year [what the team will look like]. I'm an assistant coach and I'm involved in the evaluation process, not necessarily in the decision-making process. But it was a big offseason."


That goes for Lewis, as well. The Giants did not expect him to return for a third season, certain he would land one of the many head coaching jobs available.


"I haven't spent much time wondering about it," Lewis said. "It was a great opportunity. I went out and did a couple of interviews and it was a good opportunity for me to learn and grow. I'm excited about being back. We did some nice things during the offseason, through the draft and free agency. I'm excited about getting started."


Lewis may be excited to get started because management has restocked his defense to complement defensive ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora, who both made the Pro Bowl. And the players who were injured seem to be fully recovered.


"I feel a lot better seeing the health of some of our guys as they fight their way back," coach Tom Coughlin said. "We'll put them on the field and we'll see."


Pierce, Emmons, Torbor and Blackburn, who severely injured his neck in Washington Christmas Eve, will be joined by former Redskins Pro Bowl selection LaVar Arrington.


Arrington has recovered from the knee injuries and apathy that crippled his final season in Washington. He's a sack specialist who will give the Giants another component to confuse offensive coordinators.


"I think LaVar has been a really good, enthusiastic, energetic shot in the arm for the whole team, to be honest with you," Coughlin said. "He is a guy who has great enthusiasm. He enjoys what he is doing."


Said Lewis: "To have LaVar, Strahan and Osi line up next to each other at some point will be a pretty daunting task for an offensive team."


The linebacking corps may also benefit from the addition of rookie Gerris Wilkinson of Georgia Tech, who has experience as a defensive end. And the pass rush got another potential weapon in first-rounder Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College.


"I doubt [Kiwanuka] will be inactive in a game," Lewis said. "Have you [seen him] at practice?"


The pass-rushing options now at Lewis' disposal have him excited.


"Have I been scheming in my mind? You can say it just like that," Lewis said. "That's exactly right and that is what you do, whether you are in the shower or walking to or from work. If you see something that happens maybe by accident on the field, you even say, `Boy, let's give that [play] a name.'"


Help has also arrived in the secondary. Veteran Will Allen, the former No.1 pick who had only eight interceptions in five seasons, signed with the Dolphins and was almost immediately replaced by Miami free agent cornerback Sam Madison.


William Peterson, the talented but often-injured right cornerback who missed the final 14 games of the season with a back injury, retired and will be replaced by Corey Webster, a second-round pick in 2005.


Veteran strong safety Shaun Williams was released and signed by the Panthers, where he'll be reunited with former Giants defensive coordinator John Fox. Veteran free safety Brent Alexander was released and will likely be replaced by James Butler, an undrafted free agent who showed great promise as a rookie last season.


The Giants also signed a number of free agents to strengthen the secondary, among them cornerback R.W. McQuarters and safeties Will Demps and Quentin Harris.


Contact John Altavilla at jaltavilla@courant.com.

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Giants Training Camp

July 25, 2006



The Basics


When: Camp starts Friday with a double session, 8:40-10:40 a.m. and 3:20-5:20 p.m.


Where: Albany


Schedule: With the exception of scheduled days off, the team will have one or two practices daily. On double-session days, the practices are from 8:40-10:40 a.m., and either 3:20-5:20 p.m. or 6:10-8:10 p.m. Single sessions will usually run 2:40-4:50 p.m. Check giants.com or call 518-442-7369 for the daily schedule.


Directions from Hartford: I-91 north to I-90 west into New York. Take Exit 2 (Fuller Road). Left on Fuller, then left at Washington Avenue. Upon entering campus, follow University Drive three-quarters of a mile to Dutch Quad parking lot. Parking is $5 for a one-day pass and $15 for the entire camp. All practices are open to the public but fans must remain behind barriers unless granted sideline VIP passes. After practices, fans gather behind ropes that line the exit path to the locker room. This is the best place to get photos and autographs.


Camp closes: Aug. 23 after a single session (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.).


Exhibition schedule: Aug. 11 at Baltimore, 8 p.m.; Aug. 17 vs. Kansas City, 8 p.m.; Aug. 25 at Jets, 8 p.m.; Aug. 31 vs. New England, 7:30 p.m.


Regular season schedule: Sept. 10 vs. Indianapolis, 8:15 p.m.; Sept. 17 at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.; Sept. 24 at Seattle, 4:15 p.m.; Oct. 1 (bye); Oct. 8 vs. Washington, 1 p.m.; Oct. 15 at Atlanta, 1 p.m.; Oct. 23 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.; Oct. 29 vs. Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.; Nov. 5 vs. Houston, 1 p.m.; Nov. 12 vs. Chicago, 1 p.m.; Nov. 20 at Jacksonville, 8:30 p.m.; Nov. 26 at Tennessee, 1 p.m.; Dec. 3 vs. Dallas, 1 p.m.; Dec. 10 at Carolina, 1 p.m.; Dec. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 1 p.m.; Dec. 24 vs. New Orleans, 1 p.m.; Dec. 30 at Washington, 8 p.m.


The Issues


Keeping the momentum going: The Giants made an unexpected trip to the playoffs as champions of the NFC East and there is reason to believe this team, which is deeper and certainly more experienced, is capable of dealing with one of the NFL's most difficult schedules.


Eli's coming ... or is he? Eli Manning threw 557 passes in 2005, second in team history behind Kerry Collins' 568 in 2001. His 24 touchdown passes were the most by a Giants quarterback since Fran Tarkenton's 29 in 1967. But many of his throws the last six weeks were errant and his play against the Panthers in the postseason was disturbing. He's a hard worker with diligent study habits and a will to succeed. Will he or won't he?


Defensive shift: Injuries decimated a solid defense during the final month of the season and convinced the Giants to pursue quality depth for the back seven. So with Will Allen in Miami and William Peterson retired, they look to Sam Madison and Corey Webster to settle the secondary and LaVar Arrington to add more to the linebacking corps and pass rush.


The Positions


Quarterback: Manning stumbled through December, throwing 10 interceptions in his last six starts, including three against the Panthers in the playoffs. He will need to improve if the Giants are to make a Super Bowl run.


Running back: Tiki Barber is coming off the greatest season (1,860 rushing yards, 530 receiving) of any halfback in team history. He had three 200-yard games, two in December. His 95-yard run at Oakland Dec. 31 was the longest in team history. He was selected NFL Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated and first-team All-Pro by a number of other publications, effectively dismissing the notion that turning 30 would diminish skills that have been on the ascent since Super Bowl XXXV.


Receivers: Anything would have been an improvement over 2004 when the only two touchdowns were scored by Tim Carter and David Tyree. The arrival of Plaxico Burress (76 receptions, 1,214 yards, seven TDs) not only made Amani Toomer (60 catches, 684 yards, seven TDs) better, but it helped Jeremy Shockey (65, 891 yards) get back to the Pro Bowl. Rookie Sinorice Moss should add another playmaking element. But Burress and his uneven temperament, which prompted him to skip the final team meeting, will need to be monitored.


Tight end: No Giants tight end has been to more Pro Bowls than Shockey (three). And there's no way of telling what he'd accomplish if he didn't spend so much time dealing with injuries or away from Manning and the team's non-mandatory spring workout program. He already has 248 catches, 10th on the team's all-time list.


Offensive line: Until a late-season injury to RT Kareem McKenzie sidelined him for two games in December, the unit was intact: LT Luke Petitgout, LG David Diehl, C Shaun O'Hara, RG Chris Snee and McKenzie. The same starting lineup will return, which in theory should make the offense more efficient. Rich Seubert, Bob Whitfield and free agent Grey Ruegamer will provide much of the backup.


Defensive line: Ends Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora made the Pro Bowl. Strahan, a seven-time pick, returned from shoulder surgery to get 111/2 sacks. Umenyiora celebrated his promotion to starter with 141/2, the highest non-Strahan Giants total since Lawrence Taylor had 15 in 1989. That position will be strengthened by the maturation of Justin Tuck and addition of first-round pick Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College. The tackles are up for grabs among Fred Robbins, William Joseph, Damane Duckett and Jonas Seawright.


Linebackers: The signing of Antonio Pierce gave the team a dose of energy in the middle until a high ankle sprain ended his season in December. Carlos Emmons (torn pectoral muscle) and Reggie Torbor (hamstring) soon joined him, forcing the team into mixing and matching untested or over-the-hill replacements the last two weeks and playoffs. All are healthy now and Arrington has joined from the Redskins.


Defensive backs: Allen, the former No. 1 pick with no interceptions in 2005 and just eight in 71 career starts, signed with the Dolphins. Peterson retired because of his injuries and will be replaced by Webster, last year's second-rounder. Incumbents Frank Walker and Curtis Deloatch will be pushed by R.W. McQuarters and Jason Bell. Shaun Williams signed with Carolina and Brent Alexander was released, leaving Gibril Wilson and James Butler as starters and free agents Will Demps and Quentin Harris in support.


Special teams: Jeff Feagles, the NFL record holder for attempts (1,437) and consecutive games played (288), put aside retirement for at least one more year. Jay Feely, a Pro Bowl alternate in his first season with the Giants, scored a team-record and career-high 148 points. Despite missing three games with an elbow injury, Tyree was the first Giants special teamer named to the Pro Bowl since Reyna Thompson in 1990. Chad Morton, who returned a punt for a touchdown in his first game with the Giants last September, was a Pro Bowl alternate.

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Tiki believes Giants can contend for ring


No use beating around the bush, so Tiki Barber will come right out and say it: The Giants are good enough to win the Super Bowl.


"I think we have to talk about the Super Bowl," Barber told Newsday on Monday, three days before reporting for training camp. "One of our downfalls last season is that we set our goals too low. We had the goals of restoring Giant pride and becoming a playoff team, which we did to the utmost. But it's almost as if once we achieved them, we didn't have the mentality of getting to the next level, which is the Super Bowl."


It can be a curse to talk with such swagger before you even set foot into a huddle in training camp. Just ask Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who said in this space at this time last year that the Jets were primed for a Super Bowl run. This even though their quarterback was coming off a shoulder injury and their roster was filled with holes from free-agent defections. You know what happened next.


But Barber is far more justified in proclaiming his aspirations, because the Giants really do have what it takes to get to Miami next February. I'm not saying they will get there, but I am saying they are most assuredly in the equation. Especially with the roster they'll take to Albany on Thursday.


Which is why Barber's remarks aren't out of line. Hey, his coach told the players the same thing.


"Coach Coughlin's last message to us when we left our minicamp [in June] was that we needed to set our sights on the Super Bowl," said Barber, 31, who had a career-high 1,860 rushing yards last season. "I think we've got the components at every position, which is exciting. I don't think I've ever been here when we've had this kind of talent at every position."


Not even the Super Bowl season of 2000?


"Without a doubt," said Barber, who will be in Manhattan Tuesday to promote increased awareness of sickle cell anemia. "I think in a lot of ways, we did it that year with some smoke and mirrors. We had talent, but we didn't have great talent. We rode an emotional wave to the Super Bowl that season.


"But we've got more talent now. From what we did last season, I think there will be a huge carry-over from the success."


The Giants were a surprise winner of the resurgent NFC East, as Eli Manning got them to the playoffs in his first full year as a starter, with plenty of help from Barber. There was a lot to like about that team, especially before injuries gutted a terrific defense. But they fizzled in a 23-0 home playoff loss to Carolina, after which Barber was outspoken and blunt in his criticism of Coughlin and the game plan. He insists the matter has been resolved.


"Tom and I settled it the next day," Barber said. "I criticized everyone, not just him. I told him after we had our meeting, 'Tom, do you think I don't have the same ideals, the same beliefs, the same direction that you have?' He said we did. I said, 'Well, we don't have a problem. There's no argument. We're seeing exactly the same thing.'"


Evidently, they're seeing exactly the same thing this year.


"Tom and I have the same ideals," Barber said. "I know he's getting old as a coach and I'm getting old as a player. He doesn't have a Super Bowl ring [as a head coach] and I don't have one, either. That's why I want to win it now."

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July 25, 2006 -- Three days before all players are required to report to training camp at the University at Albany, the Giants are in the same boat as so many teams around the NFL: Slowly, they are getting their draft picks signed.


Defensive tackle Barry Cofield, a fourth-round pick from Northwestern, signed a four-year contract, but others have lagged behind.


"It's the same story every year," GM Ernie Accorsi said. "If someone's not there when it starts, they'll be there shortly after it starts."


At the top of the draft board is defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. The team's top pick is represented by Tom Condon, an agent who regularly gets things done with the Giants.


The second-round pick, receiver Sinorice Moss, is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, adeal-maker who in the past has shown no hesitancy in keeping his clients out for the first few days or week of camp before signing. That's what took place four years ago with Jeremy Shockey before he agreed to terms.


The Giants don't anticipate a great deal of trouble getting all seven of their draft picks signed and in camp.


Linebacker Gerris Wilkinson, taken on the third round, is close to a four-year contract that should be completed as early as today, according to his agent, Kenny Zuckerman. It's believed the other picks, tackle Guy Whimper (fourth round), safety Charles Peprah (fifth) and cornerback Gerrick McPhearson (seventh), will be signed in time to make it to camp on time.

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