NeMesiS Posted July 27, 2006 Share Posted July 27, 2006 www.northjersey.com 5 questions for the Giants Thursday, July 27, 2006 How improved is the defense? Most of the off-season additions (LaVar Arrington, Sam Madison, Will Demps, Mathias Kiwanuka, etc.) were geared toward improving that unit. Is Eli coming? This is the year quarterback Eli Manning is supposed to blossom into a big-time player. Who's on the nose? All the pass rushers in the world won't do any good if you can't stop the run, so finding a couple of nose tackles from among Jonas Seawright, Junior Ioane, Barry Cofield and Damane Duckett is essential. A placid Plax? Plaxico Burress basically was a good soldier in Tom Coughlin's army last year until he missed the final team meeting. That raised questions about his attitude. Can they avoid the year-after jinx? The previous five times the Giants made the playoffs (1990, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2002), they dropped off significantly the following season. -- Vinny DiTrani www.northjersey.com Giants camp at a glance Thursday, July 27, 2006 Where University at Albany, Albany, N.Y. When First practices are Friday, final practice is Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. Practice times for Friday and Saturday are 8:40 a.m. and 3:20 p.m. After that, starting times of double sessions will be 8:40 a.m. and 6:10 p.m. Single practice sessions starting at 2:40 p.m. will be held Aug. 1, 3, 7, 9, 13, 15, 19 and 21. Fan information Giants Web site is giants.com. Fan hotline is 518-442-7369. If you go Admission: Free for all practices, but there is a $5 fee for parking. Parking: For the entire training camp, parking can be purchased for $15 through the University at Albany Athletic Ticket Office. Directions Take New York Thruway (Interstate 87) north to Exit 24. After the toll booths, take Interstate 90 east toward Boston. Take Exit 2 (Washington Avenue), which leads into the University at Albany campus. Follow University Drive (heading south) three-quarters of a mile to Dutch Quad parking lot. Extra tip The players will not be on the field Sunday. And don't plan to attend camp Aug. 5, the day reserved in the past for an intrasquad scrimmage or, in the last two summers, a combined practice with the Jets. There will be no workouts that day. -- Vinny DiTrani www.northjersey.com Coughlin to supply Giants with plenty of incentive Thursday, July 27, 2006 By VINNY DiTRANI STAFF WRITER ALBANY, N.Y. -- Tom Coughlin has a ready-made answer should his Giants "gearshift slide into idle" during training camp. "Remember that 17th game last year," the Giants' coach said Wednesday, "and there will be plenty of motivation for us to try to take it up another notch." That 17th game was the disastrous 23-0 playoff loss to Carolina, ending an otherwise successful season in which the Giants surprisingly won 11 games in capturing the NFC East title. As the players gather today at the University at Albany, the expectations will be high for the 2006 season. " 'Putting it behind them' is not the way I would phrase it," Coughlin said on how his players should treat the NFC playoff setback. "I would say learn from it, understand it, know what took place and never let it happen again. "We have a good football team, but there are many teams that have improved in this off-season. So the challenge is great." The Giants' offense, which scored the second-most points (422) and gained the second-most total yards (5,787) in team history last year, returns intact. In fact, it gains another weapon in second-round draft pick Sinorice Moss. So the emphasis will be on improving the defense when the practices begin with double sessions Friday. "Obviously we made a lot of changes in the secondary," Coughlin said, "and I'm looking forward to seeing how that particular group is going to come together." Strong safety Gibril Wilson will be the only returning starter from last year's secondary. Second-year man Corey Webster joins former Dolphin Sam Madison at the corners, while former Raven Will Demps moves in at free safety. The nickel back could be another newcomer, R.W. McQuarters. The biggest acquisition of the off-season was onetime Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington, who adds size to an otherwise smallish but quick unit. "More than anything," Coughlin said of Arrington's value, "is the physical attitude which he conveys on the field. He's one of those guys who has a smile on his face. He likes football, he loves practicing." Also joining the defense are top pick Mathias Kiwanuka and third-round linebacker Gerris Wilkinson, giving defensive coordinator Tim Lewis a plethora of talent from which to design. While Lewis has majored in mixing up his packages in the past, he is thinking about keeping it simple this time around. He's been trying to come up with the motto for his defense this season. It might just be letting his players play, using the available talent to its utmost rather than depending so much on the scheme to disrupt opposing offenses. The only position open is an important one, nose tackle, because if the Giants can't stop the run, their myriad of pass rushers will be rendered useless. However, Coughlin and Lewis think the answer will emerge from the current roster. Coughlin says he heard the words "Super Bowl" emanating from some of his players during the off-season. And he thinks that's a good thing – provided the effort, preparation, skill and performance levels coincide with the talk about winning a title. That was not the case Jan. 8 against Carolina. "It never left my thoughts from the evening after the game," Coughlin said, "and it's not going to change, and I don't want it to. I want to pour a little salt into the wound." And when will he start pouring that salt onto his players? "It'll probably take me about as long as tomorrow afternoon to mention that," he said Wednesday. BRIEFS: Coughlin said he expected all seven draft choices to be signed and in camp today. ... Among the veterans who may work on a limited basis early in camp are Arrington (Achilles tendinitis), Demps (knee), OL Lewis Kelly (foot) and -- here's a shocker -- WR Tim Carter (patella tendinitis). ... Guard Chris Snee's second son, Cooper Christopher, was born June 20, making Coughlin a grandfather for the fourth time. ... In their annual softball game, the Giants' coaching staff blasted the media, 18-9, in a contest not as close as the score might indicate. E-mail: email@example.com www.thejournalnews.com Giants' Coughlin to use bad memory as rallying point By ERNIE PALLADINO THE JOURNAL NEWS (Original Publication: July 27, 2006) ALBANY — His players would not report until this morning, but Tom Coughlin already knew yesterday how he'd keep his Giants motivated during the steamy workouts that lie ahead. "If under any circumstance should the gearshift slide into idle, I think all we have to do, all of us who bleed Giants blue, is remember that 17th game last year," Coughlin said as he officially opened the Giants' 11th, and his third, training camp at the University at Albany. "That will be plenty of motivation for us to try to take it up another notch." The 17th game. You remember that, don't you? That 23-0 flopperoo against Wildcard Weekend opponent Carolina? Apparently, Coughlin and his coaches haven't forgotten that horrendous afternoon in Giants Stadium, either. And they're not about to let their players forget it. "It never has left my thoughts from the evening after the game,'' Coughlin said. "And it's not going to change, and I don't want it to. I want to pour a little salt into the wound.'' They may not mention it every day. May not send them to bed with tapes of "23-0, 23-0, 23-0" playing in their heads. It may not head up every greaseboard in the meeting rooms. But anyone searching for one unifying coaching theme to this camp should look no further than Jan. 8, 2006. "It'll probably take me about as long as (this) afternoon to mention that," Coughlin said. It's how the coaches will couch those references that will determine whether the Giants have truly moved from crushing disappointment to a new season, where arguments rage over whether they, the Cowboys, Eagles or Redskins stand as the class of the NFC East. "Oh, I'm going to talk about it," defensive coordinator Tim Lewis said. "But I'm like Jack Nicklaus. Somebody once asked him what the most important shot in golf was, and he said, 'The next one.' "That game's in the past. You learn from it and move on." Not that the Giants won't have enough on their minds as they hit their initial workouts tomorrow. There are the requisite position battles, the continuing development of Eli Manning, and all those little strategic odds and ends that go into preparation for battling the NFL's toughest-rated schedule of 2006. If the staff can't get its players' heads out of last season double-quick, the Giants won't have a chance this year. But they don't want to browbeat the players with bad memories, either. "You've got one opportunity, and you've got to take advantage of that opportunity," running-backs coach Jerald Ingram said. "That's always gonna stick in your mind. "But once we start playing, we're not thinking about that. It's in your craw a little bit, but all that matters is, what are you going to do to win that next game? That's all that matters. "Did you do enough or did you not do enough? Right now in camp, are you ready, are you in shape, are you today getting better for tomorrow to get ready for the season?" Wide-receivers coach Mike Sullivan will have to straighten out a corps that did next to nothing in the loss to Carolina. And he won't be hesitant about bringing that up to the likes of Plaxico Burress, a zero-catch man that day, or Amani Toomer, or anyone else associated with that fiasco. "No one was satisfied with how we performed that day," Sullivan said. "If there's a time in practice where it's hot and sticky, and there's a lull of sorts, they just have to remember all we accomplished last year. And then remember that last game." How painful was it? Suffice it to say that none of the coaches interviewed referred to it as a playoff game. Coughlin never used the word "playoff.'' It was as if they'd never made the postseason. Just as well. That was then. The Giants have much bigger concerns now than to hash over seven-month-old history. That doesn't mean there won't be the occasional revisiting. Those who forget history, and all that. The downfall of the Panthers game will never truly sit in the rearview mirror. Not for another month, at least. Coughlin won't allow that. "Putting it behind them is not the way I would phrase it," Coughlin said. "I would say, learn from it, understand it, know what took place, and never let it happen again." That process starts today. Notes: The Giants won't have to worry about first-round defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka of Boston College reporting late to camp. He agreed late last night to a five-year deal worth about $6.96 million. The contract is expected to pay him roughly $5 million of guaranteed money. Kiwanuka is expected to sign the contract today when the players report and be on the field tomorrow for the team's first workouts. That means six of the Giants' draft picks have agreed to deals, leaving only seventh-round cornerback Gerrick McPhearson as a question mark. But he is not expected to miss any camp, either. A spokesman for agent Tom Condon said escalators and incentives could increase the contract of Kiwanuka, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass rusher, to $10 million. ... Third-round linebacker Gerris Wilkinson agreed to a four-year, $2.2 million deal yesterday afternoon. ... Oft-injured wide receiver Tim Carter has more problems. He'll be limited at least, and could miss the early sessions as he deals with patellar tendinitis. Free-agent linebacker LaVar Arrington may also be limited with Achilles' tendinitis. Offensive lineman Lewis Kelly (sprained foot) will also be limited in his workload. Five questions for Giants training camp Here are five questions Tom Coughlin will have to have answered in training camp if he expects his team to be ready for the Colts and Peyton Manning on Sept. 10. 1. How patient is Eli Manning? Questions about that opener against far more established brother Peyton will begin immediately and intensify as Sept. 10 draws near. As if Eli didn't have enough to worry about, his handling of this latest test of his patience will prove whether he's truly unflappable. 2. How much will Tim Lewis yell at LaVar Arrington? Gauge the defensive coordinator's satisfaction with his new pass-rushing linebacker by that standard. Arrington's reputation as a freelancing maverick didn't bother the staff when GM Ernie Accorsi signed him. But if he takes too many liberties in his responsibilities at strong-side linebacker, it could affect his and defensive end Michael Strahan's effectiveness. In other words, everything in moderation, LaVar. 3. How much does Sam Madison have left? The freshly stocked secondary has a big question at left corner in the 10th-year veteran Madison. With only two interceptions over his last two seasons, Madison will have to work hard to increase his turnover potential. Otherwise, fans will quickly liken him to his predecessor, Will Allen, a good cover man who couldn't make an interception to save his soul. 4. Who gets that nose-tackle spot? Jonas Seawright, a 325-pound practice-squad player, made major inroads in mini-camp toward capturing the spot next to William Joseph that came open with Kendrick Clancy's departure. But he'll be pressed hard by Fred Robbins, a veteran who added strength and speed in the offseason, and a good-looking rookie named Barry Cofield. It should be the liveliest competition in camp. 5. Expectations? What expectations? The expectation that, after an 11-5 playoff season, things should get even better. It seems that whenever hopes are high, the Giants' record goes backward. Everyone will have a good idea coming out of camp what to expect, especially if the injury bug chomps on a key player or two these next four weeks. Ernie Palladino Training camp information box What: Giants training camp Where: University at Albany When: First practices are tomorrow, 8:40-10:40 a.m. and 3:20-5:20 p.m. Camp breaks Aug. 23. Practice schedule: Normal two-a-day sessions will be held from 8:40-10:40 a.m. and 3:20-5:20 a.m. Single afternoon practice days go from 2:40-4:50 p.m. Evening practices go from 6:10-8:10 p.m. All practices are open to the public. Admission is free, and paid parking is available on campus. Fans should check the daily schedule on Giants.com or call the fan information line at 518-442-7369. Directions: Take I-87 (New York State Thruway) north to Exit 24. After toll booths, proceed to I-90 East toward Boston. Take Exit 2 (Washington Avenue), which leads to the University at Albany campus. Follow University Drive south three-quarters of a mile to the Dutch Quad public parking lot, or a mile to the Giants VIP lot at the Recreation and Convocation Center. Preseason schedule: Friday, Aug. 11 at Baltimore, 8:15 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 17 Kansas City, 8 p.m.; Friday, Aug. 25 at Jets, 8 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 31 New England, 7:30 p.m. www.thejournalnews.com Giant bull's-eye for Manning By ERNIE PALLADINO THE JOURNAL NEWS (Original Publication: July 27, 2006) ALBANY — One way or the other, Eli Manning will have his hands full once practice begins today. Whether it's that endless stream of questions he's anticipating over the season-opening matchup with his brother Peyton and the Indianapolis Colts, or just working with his receivers to improve as a quarterback, the Giants' third-year player won't lack attention. Sure, the public unveiling of new sacking linebacker LaVar Arrington, the battle for the open defensive-tackle spot, and the play of a remade secondary might distract fans occasionally. So might the flat-out speed of the receiving corps' newest addition, second-rounder Sinorice Moss. But Manning will command most of the attention. He'd like you to think the eyes that dissect his every move at this 11th training camp at the University at Albany won't disturb him. And maybe they won't. Regardless, he'll have to maintain focus if he expects to make people forget about a second half of 2005 that proved anything but star-like, and a 23-0 playoff loss to Carolina that showed him what professional rock-bottom looked like. "I'm looking forward to it," Manning said. "Getting back to training camp, fixing some things, getting better at a lot of things that need to be worked on. Get all the guys together and get off to a good start." While he's on the field, safe from those pesky questions about his first-ever matchup with his brother right out of the regular-season box, he'll work on timing and recognition. Timing, as in getting reacquainted with pout-prone Plaxico Burress, opinionated Jeremy Shockey, and aging Amani Toomer, none of whom practiced with him in the offseason conditioning program. Recognition, as in getting a better sense of who's open and where the pass rush is coming from. That, according to quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride, became his major downfall last season, not an information overload or the failure to solve defensive disguises. "His decision-making wasn't going to the wrong guy," Gilbride said. "It's, 'I'm about to be hit; can I really make that 45-yard throw downfield? I know he's open by half a step. Should I throw it, or should I just drop it off?' There were times he was trying to do a little too much and he got hurt by it." Gilbride said some intensive work in training camp should help Manning gain the consistency he lacked last season, especially in the completion percentage that sat at an anemic 52.8. "I think he will (improve)," Gilbride said. No less a Giants quarterback legend than Phil Simms said better times will come for Manning if he smooths out his throwing mechanics. "You should throw the ball better year after year," Simms said in clipped tones that showed his anger that so many questions center around a quarterback he believes is on the verge of big things. "It's one of those bugaboos of his, that the ball gets away from him sometimes. As the years go by, you gain more control of the football. All quarterbacks get more accurate as time goes on." As he officially begins his third year in the league, his second full season of starting, Manning will face many of the same challenges he had last training camp. Not the least of which will be renewing his connection with Shockey and further developing what seemed, at the beginning, a blossoming relationship with Burress. That latter soured toward the end of the season when Manning's numbers fell and took Burress' receptions total with it. "I'll have had enough time with mini-camp and training camp to get together," Manning said of the duo, both of whom chose to do their offseason training in Miami instead of at Giants Stadium. "I've had two seasons with Shockey and one with Plaxico, so we should be on the same page." It didn't take long for Manning to reconnect with Shockey last year. Then, however, he wasn't bringing memories of a playoff meltdown into camp. If they haven't shaken that off yet, now is certainly the time to trim off any loose emotional ends. Better Manning should concentrate on the present. With an offense that returns almost intact, expectations are high. Thus is Manning's charge for training camp. "Just because people expect different things of you doesn't mean you can relax," Manning said. "We have to get better in a lot of areas. That's what our goal is." www.nysportsday.com Jets And Giants Open Camps by: Brian Bohl | Staff Writer - NY Sports Day | Thursday, July 27, 2006 Baseball doesn’t begin the stretch drive until September. Hockey and basketball only start practicing in earnest once the summer is over. For sports fan, early August means only one thing outside of worrying about power outages: the commencement of NFL training camps. Scanning the football landscape in the New York metropolitan area, the Jets and the Giants present an interesting parallel. Big Blue has high expectations of making it to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2000, while Gang Green will look to bounce back from an injury-plagued 4-12 season with an overhauled coaching staff and a younger roster. The one thing the Jets will know for sure when they take the field at Hofstra University for their first workout Friday is that it will not be business as usual. In an off-season shakeup that saw Herman Edwards bolt down Hempstead Turnpike for the head coaching position in Kansas City, rookie coach Eric Mangini will look to apply the lessons learned as an assistant to Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. Mangini, along with first-year general manager Mike Tannenbaum, will get their first chance to see the squad they almost entirely revamped in an off-season salary cap dump. Gone is Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae, who was joined in the winter purge by Ty Law, tackle Jason Fabini, QB Jay Fiedler, and standout defensive lineman John Abraham. Among the most pressing questions the coaching staff - featuring 13 new members – is how the four-way quarterback competition plays itself out. Chad Pennington is reportedly making good progress on his twice-surgically repaired throwing shoulder. Pennington has been coming along slowly, but has shown positive signs. He took part in all 12 offseason practices, though he was kept out of specific individual passing sessions. Never known for a strong arm, Pennington has been focusing mostly on short, precession passes during practices. "I know you guys want to see long balls, but my goal is not to come out here and prove that I can throw the long ball," Pennington said after a June workout. "Am I where I want to be? Absolutely not. My goal is to come back strong for training camp." He will be in competition with Patrick Ramsey, a former high-round draft pick who failed to live up to expectations in Washington. Second round draft pick Kellen Clemens has received some repetitions with the first team in minicamps. The fourth contestant in what Mangini has described as an open competition is holdover Brooks Bollinger. Whoever is the quarterback, he should face better protection on the offensive line this year with first round draft choices D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold. Curtis Martin will look to benefit from the improved protection as well, as the veteran running back restructured his contract to stay with the team while trying to regain the form that made him a perennial 1,000 yard rusher. Taking the three hour, 117 mile drive up I-87, the only questions on the minds of the Giants is what will it take to make it to the Super Bowl? When Big Blue opens its 11th training camp at the University at Albany Friday, coach Tom Coughlin will look to take a team that won the NFC East with an 11-5 record to the next level. Quarterback Eli Manning is entering his third season in the league after showing steady improvement in 2005. After starting as the backup for much of his rookie year, Manning completed 52.8 percent of his passes in his first extensive time as the unquestioned starter. While the 25-year-old passer looks to improve on his accuracy, the fate of the Giants still hinges on how productive Tiki Barber can be coming off a career-best 1,860 rushing yards last season. Should he put up similar numbers, his pre-camp talk about making the Super Bowl will be more than just summertime optimism. "We have the ingredients," Coughlin said. "Now, our players – in the next five weeks – they have to be sure that they pay the price in order that we will have the opportunity to meet the high level of expectations that I have for this team. And naturally, people have to perform. It is a performance-rewarding profession." Injuries helped derail the Giants in the playoffs last year, as Carolina posted a 23-0 drubbing on the home team in a wild-card contest. Nearly seven months later, the linebacking unit is back to full strength with the return Antonio Pierce and Carlos Emmons. In one of the more surprising off-season moves, former Redskins star linebacker LaVar Arrington bolted Washington for the Meadowlands, joining Brandon Short as the team’s top two free-agent acquisitions. With improved health and upgrades on the defense, Barber is optimistic his team will be playing in Miami for the Lombardi Trophy this winter. "I think we have to talk about the Super Bowl," Barber said to reporters in Albany. "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." www.nydailynews.com New York Daily News - Tom accentuates negative BY RALPH VACCHIANO DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER Thursday, July 27th, 2006 ALBANY - It has been exactly 200 days since the Giants embarrassed themselves in their lone playoff game last season. The wound, Tom Coughlin said, is still open. And as the Giants' coach officially opened training camp yesterday morning, he insisted that's the way he wants it to stay. "(The 23-0 loss to Carolina) has never left my thoughts from the evening after the game, and it's not going to change," Coughlin said yesterday at the University at Albany. "I don't want it to. I want to pour a little salt into the wound." He will begin doing that today, when the 2006 Giants are due to report to camp. Coughlin figures he'll bring up that playoff disaster in his first speech to the full team. And it won't be the last time he mentions what happened that day. The plan, Coughlin said, is to use the embarrassing effort as motivation to make sure the defending NFC East champions take nothing for granted. And he wants to use that game as a tool for showing how far the Giants still have to go before reaching their ultimate goal. "'Putting it behind them' is not the way I would phrase it," Coughlin said. "I would say, 'Learn from it, understand it, know what took place and never let it happen again.' "And if, under any circumstance, should the gearshift slide into idle, I think all we have to do, all of us who bleed Giant blue, is remember that 17th game last year, and there will be plenty of motivation for us to try to take it up another notch." That, of course, is easier said than done. Remember, the 2003 Giants tried to use their 2002 playoff collapse in San Francisco as motivation to continue their Super Bowl dreams. Instead that team deteriorated into a 4-12 mess that eventually led to the arrival of Coughlin and his staff. That message has been loud and clear to Coughlin's assistants over the last few days in their pre-camp meetings. They understand the theme of camp will be remembering that "17th game." "Everyone talks about that 17th game, so it's there," offensive coordinator John Hufnagel said. "But as I always say, the best way to get the bad taste out of your mouth of a loss is to get back onto the field and win. And when you lose that last game, it's a long time." On the bright side, the Giants will have just about everyone back from their 11-5 team of last year, plus a revamped secondary, new linebacker LaVar Arrington and a healthy Antonio Pierce. The down side, Coughlin admitted, is a much-improved division and a schedule that is "second to none" in difficulty. Still, Coughlin wasn't eager to duck the Super Bowl expectations that will accompany his players to camp when they report this morning. He just wants them to remember how difficult reaching that goal really is. "Everyone says they want to win a Super Bowl," Coughlin said. "But who is going to match that lofty goal with the effort and intensity that's needed to compete at that level? That's the challenge we will put forth to our football team." TOP PICK AGREES: DE Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants' first-round pick, agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth nearly $7 million late last night, according to sources. That should mean no holdouts when players report to camp today. LB Gerris Wilkinson (third round) signed a four-year deal worth about $2.2 million. LT Guy Whimper (fourth) agreed to terms, too, and CB Gerrick McPhearson (seventh) was believed to be close. . . . Injury-prone WR Tim Carter is already suffering from patella tendinitis. He and Arrington (Achilles tendinitis) may be limited early in camp. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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