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Some players will be back this week


uconngiants
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ALBANY, N.Y. –Michael Jennings wants to be known as something more than a character with an offbeat car and a mouth full of gold teeth. Jennings, the Giants’ colorful first-year wide receiver, wants to earn a reputation as an outstanding and reliable football player.

 

He opened a lot of eyes Friday night in Baltimore, where his electrifying 57-yard punt return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter was the catalyzing play in the Giants 17-16 preseason-opening victory over the Ravens.

 

“I got so much attention in training camp, I wanted to put more attention on my play on the field tonight,” Jennings said. "(Veterans) Chad Morton and R.W. McQuarters helped me out all week. They told me if I go to the fourth quarter, just relax. I thank everybody for blocking and I praise God for staying on my feet.”

 

Jennings is truly one of a kind. He drove into camp in his 1995 dark grey Chevy Caprice – the one with the 26-inch wheels, interior and exterior speakers blasting rap, hip-hop or reggae music and the big white “ONE FIVE” stickers in honor of his uniform number. Then Jennings hopped out of the car, flashed a mouthful of gold teeth and gave the most entertaining interview this side of Jeremy Shockey.

 

All that window dressing obscured the fact that Jennings is determined to overcome the odds and make the final roster. Though he never played college football, the former Florida State track star has been kicking around NFL camps without ever playing in a regular season game. He did have a big season with the Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe in 2005.

 

Jennings is a fleet wide receiver/returner, two positions where the Giants are well-stocked with talented players. In addition to his big punt return, he also had a nine-yard reception in the game. But it was his punt return, during which he sidestepped at least five attempted tackles, that boosted him most in his quest to make the team.

 

“I think it helped out a lot,” Jennings said. “But I’m just taking this thing one day, one practice at a time. And right now I’m just focused on practice on Sunday. I’m going to practice catching punts and keep working hard.”

 

Jennings was asked if he sent a message to the coaching staff that he is a playmaker.

 

“I was on the practice squad all last year,” he said. “I used to make plays every day in practice. I’m just proud I could do it in a game.”

 

Jennings said he won’t make the team as either a receiver or returner exclusively.

 

“I think I need to do both,” he said. “If I make the team I think I’m going to have to show something on special teams. So that’s what I’ll be working on in practice.”

 

NOTES

 

- Tom Coughlin reiterated today that he was displeased with the run defense in Baltimore. Although both starting units played only briefly, Jamal Lewis ripped through the Giants for 34 yards on six carries on the Ravens' first possession. Baltimore averaged 5.3 yards a carry.

 

“I still think (the interior defense was soft),” Coughlin said. “I don’t think there’s any question that the thing we’ll be working on the most is shoring up the run defense. One of our objectives going into this game following last week’s practices was to do a better job of gap control. We didn’t do that necessarily last night and we gave up some numbers in the running game. … We didn’t get anybody in real good position to stop them. We’ve got some work to do there and hopefully we can improve on that.”

 

William Joseph and Fred Robbins started at defensive tackle. The reserves included Damane Duckett, Jonas Seawright and rookies Barry Cofield, Sir Henry Anderson and Marcus Green.

 

Are the answers to the defensive tackle shortcomings currently on the roster?

 

“I don’t know about that,” Coughlin said. “You’re always looking for a player who is available that can help your team. But we’re still in the process of trying to develop and analyze some of our young guys. We have some veteran players in there that have to play better and improve what they’re doing. Last night wasn’t a real good example of that.”

 

The younger linemen might get more of an opportunity to show what they can do.

 

“I think some of that will bear out,” Coughlin said. “But some of these veteran guys are going to get a chance to eliminate a couple of the issues that we find. We’ll work hard toward that. This week (against Kansas City on Thursday in Giants Stadium) our ones will play longer. Whether or not we do more substituting while that group is in there remains to be seen.”

 

- Coughlin mentioned only two players who were injured in Baltimore: David Tyree with a sprained ankle and offensive lineman Rich Seubert with turf toe. The coach hopes if they cannot practice tomorrow they will be ready to go on Monday.

 

Several of the players who missed the Ravens game are ready to return to work. Linebacker Carlos Emmons (burner) will be on the field tomorrow and should resume contact work Monday. LaVar Arrington (knee) will practice once a day. Guard Chris Snee (knee) will return on a limited basis. And rookie wide receiver Sinorice Moss (quad) should return this week.

 

- Coughlin switched the game-day location of two of his assistants, putting offensive coordinator John Hufnagel upstairs in the booth and quarterbacks coach Kevin Gilbride on the sideline.

 

“I thought we’d be better and more efficient that way,” Coughlin said. “I always thought that the play-caller in the booth (Hufnagel) had an opportunity to see the entire field. I felt John would do a good job from up above, for the reason I just stated. I also felt it would give Kevin a better opportunity to communicate eyeball-to-eyeball with Eli (Manning), a guy he spends an untold number of hours with in the classroom and on the field.

 

“I thought that this would serve very well, that John would pass the play down to Kevin and Kevin would send it into the quarterback.”

 

- Jay Feely scored the winning points in Baltimore on a 29-yard field goal as time expired. He had earlier missed a 44-yard attempt.

 

“I was real happy that I got that opportunity,” Feely said. “You want to put yourself in pressure situations. The only way you can do that is in game situations. Missing the one earlier and then having another where if you miss it you’re going to lose, that’s about as much pressure as you can get in a preseason game. It was good to come through

 

“For kickers, this is a lot more game-like than it is for the other guys. It’s more like a regular season game. I have a lot to work on and get better to get ready for Indianapolis (the regular season opener on Sept. 10).”

 

- Jared Lorenzen was the quarterback on the Giants’ 16-play, 62-yard that ended with Feely’s winning field goal.

 

“It’s so big,” said Lorenzen, who is battling Tim Hasselbeck and Rob Johnson to be the No. 2 quarterback. “In practice we go over it every day, but it’s either Eli or Tim or Rob doing it. Three days ago was my first time doing it. You learn a lot about time management, what we’re doing, what the defense is trying to do to you. Cough Coughlin drills it into your head, into your head. So when I did get out there, it wasn’t like we were running around with our heads cut off.”

 

Hasselbeck played most of the second and third quarters and completed seven of 13 passes for 79 yards.

 

“There’s pressure to perform,” he said. “Anytime you get an opportunity, you need to play well. I don’t think that’s unique for a backup quarterback. It’s for anybody who played tonight. Some guys take advantage of the opportunity and some guys don’t. You just hope you’re a guy that’s taking advantage of those opportunities.”

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