2007 New York Giants

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Source: Giants Strahan not close to deciding on future

As the Giants return to training camp at the University at Albany this morning, Michael Strahan, their best run-stopper, will remain home in Hermosa Beach, Calif. His holdout hits 18 days today and his fines total $257,184. And according to sources who have spoken to the defensive end, he is no closer to making a decision on his future with the team. -- NY Daily News
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Giants defense: Throw out the preseason opener, please

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -With Michael Strahan still nowhere in sight, the New York Giants defense is looking for a second chance after botching its first preseason game without the holdout Pro Bowler.

Under new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the defense gave up three long scoring drives in the first half, and it opened the second by surrendering an 85-yard scoring pass play in a 24-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

More than a few fans had to think the defense was ``horrible.''

``That's just crazy for anyone to say we're horrible right now,'' defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Monday before the Giants practiced at the University at Albany.

``After the game I was like: 'Wow, that doesn't bode too well for what we are trying to accomplish,''' Umenyiora said. ``But after watching the tape and seeing what happened, it was just little, little mistakes that you have to correct. A little mistake will cost you 50 or 60 yards.''

Umenyiora predicted that the Giants would get things fixed before the season opener against the Cowboys in Dallas on Sept. 9.

By that point, the Giants should know whether the 35-year-old Strahan will be returning for a 15th NFL season or relaxing in retirement.

His holdout entered its 18th day on Monday with no end in sight.

``Nothing new,'' Tony Agnone, Strahan's agent, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press late Sunday evening. He did not know if Strahan watched Saturday's game.

One thing that was obvious was that the Panthers knew Strahan was not at his normal left end position, which was manned by William Joseph. They ran that way several times for big gains.

``It had absolutely nothing to do with Michael,'' Umenyiora said. ``Willy Jo was doing what he was supposed to do. We just made a couple of mistakes, period. If Michael was there or not, I don't think it would have done anything.''

Pro Bowl linebacker Antonio Pierce reminded everyone that it was just the first preseason game. He said the Giants didn't have a big game plan, they were facing a new Carolina offense and they made mistakes. - ``I am not going to judge our whole preseason by what we did in 13 plays,'' Pierce said.

Mathias Kiwanuka, who is making the transition from defensive end to linebacker, was upbeat about his performance despite overrunning a couple of plays, giving Carolina big runs.

``Your instinct is to go get the ball,'' said Kiwanuka, who played about 25 snaps. ``You have to realize you have to patient. There are a lot of rules for each position and you have to understand what they are.''

The one person who took advantage of Strahan's absence was fellow defensive end Justin Tuck. He had two tackles in 13 plays in his first game action since being sidelined last season with a major foot injury.

``I'm not surprised, but I definitely feel like I have a long way to go,'' Tuck said Monday. ``I don't feel like my endurance is where it needs to be, so I'm working at that. My foot felt pretty good.''

That's good for the Giants, especially if Strahan decides to retire.

``Michael is handling his own situation,'' Tuck said. ``Like I said before, if he comes, that definitely helps our team. If not, we are preparing like he is not going to be here.''

Spagnuolo was not available for comment on Monday, but Tuck said the coordinator was disappointed at the defensive meeting as the Giants began to prepare for Sunday's game against Baltimore.

``We're not in panic mode or anything like that,'' Tuck said. ``We not pleased how we played, regardless of the first preseason game. We'll just come out here today and do all the corrections and try to get better and get ready for Baltimore.''
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Sprained Ankle Keeping Burress Out Of Giants' Practice

AP - Plaxico Burress is no Jeremy Shockey, at least when it comes to playing on a bad ankle in training camp.

Shockey pushed himself a year ago on a sprained ankle, and it ended up bothering him during the Giants' regular season.

Burress isn't making the same mistake. The receiver hasn't practiced since spraining his right ankle on Aug. 2. His hours on the field at the U. at Albany over the last 12 days have been spent either watching Eli Manning and the offense work or riding a stationary bike.
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Prank Leaves Shockey Fuming

New York Post - After lunch on Tuesday, Jeremy Shockey went to sign some autographs and revealed a very purple left hand, stained with dye after he stuck it inside his glove, not knowing that it had been booby-trapped with the unwashable substance that banks use to mark money.

It will take days for Shockey to remove the deep purple stain, and undoubtedly much less time to identify the culprit.

Unsmiling, the temperamental tight end clearly did not appreciate the gag and vowed revenge.

"Dead man walking," he warned.
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Ward giving the Giants a bigger than normal kickoff return

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -Derrick Ward is giving the New York Giants a bigger than normal kickoff return game. Much bigger.

In a specialty job where the average return man may weigh about 180 pounds, Ward is packing 230 every time he fields a kickoff and gets in gear behind a wedge of blockers.

As far as the Giants were concerned, Ward was one of the highlights in their 24-21 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. The fourth-year back averaged 45.5 yards on two returns, taking the second 67 yards to set up New York's first touchdown.

``The kickoff return is like a big zone play,'' Ward said before a recent practice at the University at Albany. ``It's one cut and up. There is not a lot of time to dance back and forth. You have to hit it. So that's what I try to do.

``I am a big back and once I go forward that is a lot of force coming behind me. The little guys, it will hurt.''

Veteran linebacker Reggie Torbor knows what Ward is talking about. He plays on all the Giants' kickoff and punt teams and he has taken his share of hits. He also knows Ward well enough to make fun of him.

``He's a little stocky guy,'' Torbor said of 5-foot-11 back. ``He needs to go in the steam room and drop 50 pounds.''

After a couple of seconds of chuckling, Torbor gets serious about his buddy.

``He's so fiery, and that's the best word I can use to describe him,'' Torbor said. ``Once he gets the ball, he's not a cutter, a Dante Hall type. He's straight downhill. And being on kickoff coverage teams, that's not the type of guy you want to go against because he's been going 30 yards by the time you get to him.''

There was a downside for Ward on his long kickoff return. He got caught from behind and didn't score.

Naturally, during the special teams meetings after the game, Ward got grief from teammates.

``He ran out of gas,'' Torbor said. ``It was the first game. We'll excuse him on that one. Once we get into the season, we won't excuse him if he gets caught from behind.''

Ward, who returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in 2004 for the Giants, enjoys his role. However, it's obvious he wants to be more than a return man. He played halfback in high school and college and he wants to carry the ball in the NFL.

With the retirement of Tiki Barber, the starting job belongs to Brandon Jacobs. New York also acquired Reuben Droughns from Cleveland in the offseason and drafted Ahmad Bradshaw in the seventh round in April.

Where Ward fits into the running backs' picture is uncertain. He has carried the ball 35 times for 123 yards, a 3.5 yard average, in his first three seasons. He got five carries against the Panthers on Saturday and averaged 5.8 yards.

``I am showing them that I can be accountable on the kickoff return and as the third back,'' Ward said. ``I think that once that preseason continues and I can show them what else I can do, that will open their eyes and show them I can help this team out in any way possible.''

Ward also needs to show that he can stay healthy. He missed the first six games last season. During training camp he slipped on a wet floor while wearing his cleats and broke his foot. Eventually, he played eight games and averaged 20.3 yards on 23 kickoff returns with a long of 36 before re-injuring his foot.

``I want to show them I can be a part of this team and that I can help them win,'' Ward said. ``That's the main thing. I want to show them I can stay healthy and be that spurt that is needed.''
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Nothing new on Strahan after 3 weeks

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese hasn't talked to holdout defensive end Michael Strahan in a while and has no clue when the seven-time Pro Bowl player will make a decision on whether to retire.

``We would like for him to be here if he's going to be here, just for him to get some work,'' Reese said Thursday at training camp at the University at Albany. ``Michael knows that if he's going to come back, he has to get some work in. You just can't show up and play in the National Football League.

``If he decides to come, I think he will be here soon, but it's still his decision and we'll see what happens in the next few days.''

The Giants are fining the 35-year-old Strahan $14,288 for each day he misses. His three-week total is now $300,048.

Reese used the word ``deadline'' several times in discussing the holdout, but the Giants can't do anything to hasten Strahan's decision. They can either fine him or release him, and they are not going to do the latter.

Reese believes Strahan is working out, but said that won't replace training camp in getting a player ready for the season.

``We just worry about the guys who are here day by day,'' Reese said. ``It's Michael's decision whether or not to be here. He's still pondering, and he deserves the right to do that, so that's what he's doing.''

Giants co-owner John Mara said Thursday that he still believes Strahan will play this season.
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Wright looking to make the most of his last-chance with Giants

ALBANY, N.J. (AP) -Manny Wright talked about playing football for the New York Giants. He had a smile on his face and not a tear in his eye.

As a rookie two years ago, he cried on the field after being scolded by then-Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban. A lot has changed in Wright's life.

The 340-pound defensive tackle who seemed overwhelmed making the jump from Southern California has learned to approach football in the NFL as a job. He has gotten his head straightened out, worked hard and gotten into his best shape in years.

The goal now is to win a job with the Giants, who signed him Wednesday to add size after the Carolina Panthers chewed up the line in the preseason opener.

``I don't feel like this is my last chance but I feel like it's getting toward that,'' Wright said Thursday between practices at University at Albany. ``It's either now or never. I have to keep doing what I am doing.''

If there was rock bottom for Wright, it probably wasn't the crying episode. It happened three months ago after the Dolphins released him and the Buffalo Bills signed him.

Wright reported to the Bills weighing 365 pounds. They dumped him less than a week later.

``I was only up there for four days and they were like, 'Oh, he's too big,''' Wright said. ``I can't rely on my talent like that. All of the other guys are moving faster and I am big and strong. I just figured I had to get into better shape.''

So Wright returned to Long Beach, Calif., and started sweating. He worked out twice a day and did extra cardiovascular work at night, shedding 25 pounds.

``This is the best (shape) I have been in a long time,'' Wright said. ``I feel really good, I feel really confident.''

Wright said most people in Miami forgot about the crying when he played well in the final three games of the 2005 season.

That didn't make his problems go away. He had a weight problem in training camp in 2006 and left the team. Miami placed him on the nonfootball injury list, then released him this May.

Wright would not elaborate on his problems in 2006, although he acknowledged problems at home..

``I had a lot going on and I mean, I was only 22 and it overwhelmed me,'' he said. ``I am better now and I have my head on straight.''

Wright denied that he was depressed in 2006.

``I am just going to prove a lot of people wrong by playing really well and contributing to this team,'' Wright said.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team did a lot of research on Wright. General manager Jerry Reese had a good talk with him and Coughlin spoke to him on the field after he worked out.

``You can see the athletic flashes that he showed yesterday,'' Reese said. ``I don't think he's in awful shape, but I don't think he's in top condition, either.''

Wright hopes to get down to 335, what he weighed with the Dolphins. After two workouts he doesn't feel that far behind. He said he might be able to play Sunday against Baltimore.

``I am really motivated,'' he said. ``That is why I was getting up early in the morning working out extra. I mean, I am motivated. I see a lot of guys on the TV and I am like OK, I am better than him. I got my motor running.''
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News: Strahan is still in California, and the Giants have not been in touch with him recently, according general manager Jerry Reese, Newsday reports.

Spin: Team owners John Mara and Steve Tisch think Strahan will rejoin the Giants in the near future rather than retire. But neither could give a definitive answer about the defensive end's training camp holdout, which has reached 21 days and $300,048 in fines, or its outcome.
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Eli Fires Back At Tiki

Star-Ledger - Retired running back Tiki Barber, debuted as an analyst for NBC's Sunday Night Football by ripping Eli Manning's ability to lead the team.

Manning shot back on Tuesday.

"I guess I'm just happy for Tiki that he's making a smooth transition into the media world. It'll be interesting to see if he has anything else to say (about anything) besides the Giants and what his comments will be on that. It's one of those deals; I'm not going to lose any sleep (over) what Tiki has to say. I guess I could have questioned his leadership skills last year with calling out the coach and having articles about him retiring in the middle of the season and (how) he's lost the heart. As a quarterback, you're reading your running back has lost the heart to play the game and it's about the 10th week. Well, I could see that a little bit at times. But I'm not going to get concerned and I'm going to go out there and play ball.

"It's just one of those deals. The guy goes to the media and he's got to say stuff. He's been put in a situation where he's got to talk. That's just the way it is. That's the world we live in and you have to deal with it."
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Peyton Steps In To Defend Eli

N.Y. Times - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, whose leadership ability was once questioned by a teammate, joined the fray between his younger brother Eli and the former Giants running back Tiki Barber, now a commentator for NBC. During a television broadcast Sunday night, Barber criticized Eli’s leadership skills.

Eli fired back at Barber on Tuesday, and Peyton took a shot yesterday at former players who join the news media after their playing careers end and then criticize current players.

“Ex-players truly become ex-players right away, the No. 1 job is to criticize players,” said Peyton Manning, who had his ability to lead publicly questioned several years ago by the former Colts place-kicker Mike Vanderjagt. “I’m pretty defensive of all quarterbacks. Eli is my brother. I’m very loyal to my family. I’d rather you criticize me. I don’t think anybody knows what it’s like to be a quarterback except a current quarterback. Sometimes former quarterbacks forget what’s it’s like. You cannot play quarterback at any level — you’re in a leadership position. To do it for three years in high school, three years as a starter in college, taking your team to the playoffs — you are a leader and you’re a good leader."
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Droughns Gets Time At Fullback

Star-Ledger - With FB Robert Douglas out of practice with a meniscus injury that will require surgery, Reuben Droughns worked with the first team at fullback. It's been asked about and speculated about since the Giants traded for Droughns and especially since Jim Finn went on IR in June.

"We're going to work Reuben, who's done that before in Denver, (at fullback) and of course, (Michael) Matthews," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I'd like to see Reuben (against the Patriots on Thursday) at fullback."
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Giants' Tyree To Miss 4-6 Weeks With Fractured Wrist

Yahoo.com - Giants wide receiver David Tyree will miss four to six weeks with a fractured left wrist, coach Tom Coughlin announced Monday.

Tyree will undergo surgery Monday night.

Tyree, 27, played in all 16 games last season, catching 19 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He has excelled in coverage on special teams, making the Pro Bowl in 2005
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With the new sub-forums capability, please create separate threads for team topics. I will lock this thread and keep it as historical.