New York Giants: Plaxico Burress
- Wide receiver Victor Cruz is worth watching over the next couple of days. He missed practice Monday with a knee issue, and while he returned to practice Tuesday, he went down in a collision with a defensive back in one-on-one drills and was limping a bit when he got up. He returned to practice and caught a long pass in double coverage a few plays later, but he wasn't on the field very much for the two-minute drill that ended practice on a field that was starting to get slippery due to light rain. It goes without saying that the Giants' wide receiver corps, which is littered with unproven entities, could not stand to lose Cruz.
- Some injured guys are working their way back, though. Rookie receiver Odell Beckham made good on his promise to keep progressing from his hamstring injury. He worked in individual drills Tuesday and was the intended target on one of quarterback Eli Manning's interceptions in 7-on-7 drills. Also catching passes was tight end Daniel Fells, who'd missed some time earlier in camp with a knee injury. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo named Fells and Larry Donnell when asked who among the tight end group has stood out so far. Donnell has been the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart all camp, but Fells has the best chance of anyone to overtake him from what I've seen.
- Second-year safety Cooper Taylor continues to impress. He kept running back Rashad Jennings from getting around the corner on one run play I noticed in team drills.
- Veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, who signed last week, could be getting a legitimate look for a roster spot. He's been getting some defensive end reps, and it helps his cause that Idonije is a player who can contribute at a high level on special teams, where he's been working a lot. Just something to keep an eye on.
- Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring), fullback John Conner (concussion), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot) and tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring) all sat out. Coach Tom Coughlin said Conner looks as though he could practice this week and that Hillis' progress is "slow."
- Former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was a guest at practice Tuesday and watched from the sideline.
- The Giants practice from 1:20 pm to 3:30 pm ET on Wednesday. Practice is open to the public.
This is one of three nominations for the most memorable play in New York Giants history. In the next two days, we'll feature Lawrence Taylor's sack that broke Joe Theismann's leg in 1985 and the Joe Pisarcik-Herman Edwards "Miracle at the Meadowlands" play from 1978. Please vote for your choice as the Giants' most memorable play.
Score: Giants 17, Patriots 14
Date: Feb. 3, 2008 Site: University of Phoenix Stadium
Eli Manning was as close to being sacked as a quarterback can possibly be without actually being sacked. The Giants trailed the undefeated New England Patriots 14-10 with a little more than a minute left in Super Bowl XLII. It was third-and-5 on the Giants' 44-yard line, the eighth play of a drive on which the Giants already had converted a fourth down and would later need to convert another third. The play broke down and it appeared as though the Giants would have to pick up a long fourth down to keep their hopes of the upset alive. But Manning slipped out of the grasp of New England defensive end Jarvis Green, stepped forward in the pocket and fired the ball over the middle, where little-used Giants wide receiver David Tyree and Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison were jumping for it at the same time.
Replays would show that Tyree caught the ball with both hands but that Harrison's hand got there too and knocked Tyree's left hand off the ball. As the two fell to the ground together, Tyree pinned the ball against the forehead of his helmet with his left hand, then managed somehow to get his left hand back on the ball and maintain possession all the way to the ground.
The result was a miraculous 32-yard gain and a first down that kept alive the Giants' chances. Three plays later, Manning found Steve Smith to convert a third-and-11, and on the play after that, he connected with Plaxico Burress for the 13-yard touchdown catch that gave the Giants the 17-14 lead.
The Giants kicked the ball back to New England, but with only 29 seconds left on the clock, Tom Brady couldn't get the ball out of his own end, and the Giants secured the third, and most astounding, Super Bowl title in their history. Tyree's catch was improbable enough to fit the moment. No one thought the Patriots, who carried an 18-0 record into the game and would have been only the second team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated, would lose. Most expected this to be a coronation of the best team in the history of the game. Manning, Tyree and the Giants did everything they possibly could to deny it.
@DanGrazianoESPN been a fan all my life and I gotta say the helmet grab. From Eli's scramble to Tyree's catch, just flat amazing!— KeithMichaud (@keithmmichaud) June 5, 2014
In all seriousness, no one has been rooting for a weather disaster here, and it's good that signs point to the positive for a game that has a chance to be one for the ages. He's admittedly biased, but New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning sounds glad that his brother won't have to worry about weather conditions affecting his and the Denver Broncos' chances of winning the game.
In other Giants-ish news, Justin Tuck obviously sides with Michael Strahan in the Strahan-Warren Sapp beef and hopes his mentor gets that Hall of Fame call this Saturday.
This was overnight Tuesday, but it was good from Lyle Crouse, who talked to former Giant Sam Garnes about his memories of losing a Super Bowl game. Garnes is now an assistant coach with the Broncos, hoping a win Sunday can ease that memory.
And from the files of the bizarre, Plaxico Burress tells Jordan Raanan that he advised Hakeem Nicks this past season, which could explain a lot, actually.
Cruz is so hot right now that people have nearly forgotten about Hakeem Nicks, who was the budding star No. 1 receiver around these parts not four months ago. But Nicks doesn't mind. Part of the reason this all works -- and a large part of the reason the Giants find themselves preparing for a divisional-round playoff game Sunday against the Packers in Green Bay -- is that neither of the Giants' star wide receivers is the kind of guy who acts like, well, a star wide receiver.
"We're great friends," Cruz said Wednesday. "We talk all the time. We text each other all the time. When I'm watching film, I'll text him and ask him about something. And because he has a little girl himself and I just had one, I ask him for advice all the time on that. So he's a guy that I definitely look at as a friend -- a guy who's behind me and supports my career 100 percent."
Yeah, these two guys are a real coach's nightmare. Nicks spends his spare time in the film room, as he has since high school, obsessing over the finer details of his craft, because he never wants to miss an opportunity to get better. Last summer, Cruz took it upon himself to attend every one of Eli Manning's player workouts during the lockout, buddying up to the Giants' quarterback just in case he was going to get an opportunity. Just in case the Giants didn't bring back Steve Smith or sign Plaxico Burress or give Domenik Hixon the preseason reps at slot receiver or any of the other things they planned to do before giving Cruz a shot.
The Giants' star wideouts are workaholics. They're humble. They're generous and engaging and easy to like. In short, they bear absolutely no resemblance to the cliched profile of the diva wide receiver.
"I think the main thing with both of those guys is that they want to be successful, and they want to be successful as a team," Giants safety Deon Grant said. "They don't consider themselves individuals. They know the best way for them to be successful is if we're all successful. And that's a special thing, to have guys that think that way. That's why this is a special group of guys we have in here."
There is a remarkable lack of ego about these Giants. The quarterback doesn't carry himself like a star. The coach doesn't hold himself out as the smartest guy in the league. Even the remarkable self-confidence the Giants have been expressing outwardly over the past few weeks has rung sincere -- a genuine outgrowth of their own improved play on the field. They believe in themselves and each other, and nowhere is that more evident than in the mutual admiration society that is their wide receiver corps.
"We are a dangerous corps," Nicks said. "I feel like we're all No. 1 receivers. With our offense, if you try to take one guy away, it opens it up for the other two guys. You try to take two guys away, it opens it up for the third receiver and the tight end as well."
The third receiver is Mario Manningham, a player of considerable skill in his own right who began this season apparently poised for his own stardom before Cruz raced past him as well. Manningham has struggled with knee injuries through the second half of the season, but he had a big game last Sunday in the victory against the Falcons, and says he doesn't mind if people would rather talk about Nicks and Cruz.
"I hope they forgot about me," Manningham said of the Packers. "I like not being under the microscope."
Microscope, spotlight, whatever. The Giants' receivers are perfectly suited to roll with any or all of it. In a town that pumps up its stars to unsustainable levels of fame and expectation, the men who are turning Manning's short passes into long touchdowns every week remain grounded. They remain humble. They remain good friends and good teammates who believe hard work and dedication are the paths to success. For goodness' sake, they are NFL receivers who don't mind if somebody else catches the ball.
"Our coaches are always preaching the mantra of taking the names off the backs of the jerseys," Giants tackle Kareem McKenzie said. "Those guys, because of their personalities, they're a great example of that."
They're exactly what the Giants need. And that's a huge part of the reason the Giants are still playing.
For the first time in Giants history, the team has two receivers that have topped 1,000 yards in the same season. Victor Cruz had 1,150 yards on the year while Hakeem Nicks just crossed the plateau on Sunday night and now has 1,023. Cruz has set a career-high while Nicks is 30 yards from setting his new high mark.
"A lot of that credit goes to the o-Line, holding up for Eli (Manning) to deliver those passes to us and Eli doing a great job distributing the ball between different targets and we're just coming up and making plays for him," Nicks said.
The Giants are currently one of two teams in the NFL with two players that have topped 1,000 yards, as New England's pair of Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker both have as well. The Giants, though, are the only team to have two receivers with those numbers, as Gronkowski is a tight end for New England.
In having two guys with 1,000 yards, Nicks believe the playmaking ability of the team on the outside is a key reason why. The Giants are one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this year, with the most 40-plus yards passing plays in the league.
"Eli has been comfortable, the o-line has been holding up for him," Nicks said of the vertical offense. "Without the o-line, we wouldn't have time to get those deep balls off so definitely got to give a lot of credit for holding up and Eli having time to complete the deep ball."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who was not aware of his receivers' accomplishments, is pleased that Manning has been finding different receivers and spreading the ball around.
"Given where we are and how we played and the way in which we attained our production offensively, I'm glad for the distribution, I'm glad for the balance," Coughlin said. "I think as you look at the number of catches, that kind of adds up for us."
Manning, whose 4,105 passing yards are an obvious reason why the team has been able to accomplish this feat, credited the hard work of the offense. Manning has seen firsthand how hard this task is for receivers as even the talented duo of Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress could not both top 1,000 in the same season.
"The offense, I think we've grown a lot and advanced our offense since those days when those two talented receivers were here," Manning said when it was mentioned that those receivers did not accomplish it. "I'm feeling comfortable and these guys are doing a great job of getting open, understanding our concepts, understanding our plays and going out there and making plays when those opportunities form."
Wide Receiver Mario Manningham, who is fourth on the team in receiving yards with 466 yards, seems to be motivated by his teammates accomplishments.
"Let's roll. Let's keep it going. Let's get more," Manningham said.
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:
Trouble getting started: According to the ESPN Stats & Information Group, a big part of the New York Giants' problems running the ball this year have had to do with what happens before their running backs ever get hit. SIG's "next level" stats show that the Giants, who are averaging 3.3 yards per carry this season after averaging 4.6 yards per carry over the previous three seasons, are only gaining 1.6 yards per rush before initial contact. The league average of yards per carry before contact is 2.4, and only the Cleveland Browns (1.3) have a lower number in this category than the Giants do in 2011. Makes you think that maybe Ahmad Bradshaw's complaints about the offensive line weren't far off.
When is home not really home?: The Buffalo Bills have a 3-0 record at home this season, but this week's game against the Washington Redskins is in Toronto. It's the fourth year in a row the Bills have played a home game in Toronto, and they're 0-3 in the games so far. This is good news for the Redskins, who have lost five straight to the Bills since beating them in Super Bowl XXVI and who haven't won in Buffalo since 1987.
Keep it safe, Tony: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did not throw an interception last week against the Rams, breaking a streak of three straight games in which he'd thrown at least one. Since Romo became the Cowboys' starting quarterback, the team is 17-6 in games in which he does not throw an interception, and 25-19 when he throws at least one. The Eagles have intercepted seven passes in their first six games, but four of those seven came in their most recent game, two weeks ago against Rex Grossman and the Redskins.
Touchdown Shady: McCoy has scored a touchdown in each of the Eagles' first six games this season. He's the first Eagle ever to do that and the first player on any NFL team to do it since 2007, when both Plaxico Burress and T.J. Houshmandzadeh did it, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The only other running backs in the past 15 years to score touchdowns in each of their team's first six games of a season were LaDanian Tomlinson of the Chargers in 2005, Emmitt Smith of the Cowboys in 1999 and Robert Edwards of the Patriots in 1998. Smith did them all one better, scoring in each of the Cowboys' first seven games that season.
As the G-Men get ready to play the St. Louis Rams on the next edition of "Monday Night Football," ESPNNewYork.com is proud to announce its list of the 50 Greatest Giants.
Putting this list together was a tall order, considering Big Blue's long and storied history, which includes three Super Bowl wins.
There is plenty of room for debate -- in terms of who we selected, and in terms of what order we placed them in. And we welcome your feedback! Feel free to use the comment feature below.
We wanted to include a wide range, in terms of positions. And we certainly could have included at least a couple more current Giants -- in fact, two of them just missed the cut. But they've got some time left in their careers, and will likely make this list when it's all said and done.
Who are they? We'll, why don't you take a guess?
With that said, let 'er rip! Enjoy the photo gallery, and use our list ranker to assemble your very own top 20.
Osi Umenyiora is expected to undergo his physical. He could talk to the media today which could be very entertaining.
Plaxico Watch is over, the wideout signed with the Jets. Here's my early take on what it means for the Giants. We'll get player reaction later today.
The Giants are still trying to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw. According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Redskins may be pursuing Bradshaw as well.
In a phone interview with the Newark Star-Ledger, Burress described his meeting with Coughlin as "very positive." He also said he has not ruled any team out yet. Of course, it's in Burress' best interests to keep everybody in the hunt.
"Yeah, I think it went well," the 6-5 receiver told the paper about his meeting with Coughlin. "We ironed a couple of things out. I thought it was very positive."
Burress disputed a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which said he will not re-sign with the Giants after visiting with the Steelers on Saturday.
"I haven't ruled out anybody,” Burress said. "I don’t know who's talking or whatever, but I haven't ruled anybody out."
Burress told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith in June that his relationship with Coughlin was "ambivalent."
"I believe so," Burress said when asked if Friday's meeting helped their relationship. "I don’t see why it wouldn't."
Burress also spoke fondly about his visit with the team that drafted him, the Steelers. He had breakfast with head coach Mike Tomlin and lunch with several players, including Ben Roethlisberger.
"I got a chance to see all my boys, all the fellas," Burress told the paper. "It brought back a lot of memories, that's for sure. Some great memories -- great memories."
Burress said he was trying to figure out the logistics of visiting two more teams -- the 49ers and Jets -- in the next 48 hours. He had nothing but positive things to say about Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
"I know they have a good team and everybody knows Rex," he said. "I think he’s great. He stands behind his players, I think his players have a lot of respect for him and they play hard for him. He's a great coach, great personality. He seems like he's always upbeat."
On Friday night, a source close to Burress said the receiver had his eyes on the Eagles. We could find out in a few days where Burress ends up.
Plaxico Burress, 34, sat down with the NFL Network and gave a revealing interview. With the candor of someone who is trying to restart successful NFL career, the former Giants wide receiver said he always thought he'd play again despite missing two seasons to serve time on a gun charge.
"You go out there on Sunday, where else would you rather be on NFL Sunday to come out of a tunnel, performing in front of millions of people?" Burress said. "At no time did I ever think my career was over. I was determined to get back."
Where he lands is anyone's guess, but once free agency starts, it will be interesting to see who takes a chance on an older, but potentially explosive, player.
Burress called his relationship with Coughlin “ambivalent” earlier this week.
“I don’t pay any attention to it. It is what it is,” Couglin said on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. “Maybe he’s sending me a long a badge of honor, how do I know.”
While Coughlin’s comment was vague, Burress left little to the imagination in his description of his relationship with Coughlin.
"My situation in New York, me and my coach had an ambivalent relationship to say the least," Burress said. "Some things that I didn't agree with, with the way he went about things. And the only way to show my way was to just rebel. Is that who I am? No."
"That was one of the biggest problems when I left Pittsburgh when I came here," Burress continued. "I had a relationship with Bill Cowher inside of football and outside of football. He always had an open-door policy to where you could come talk to him or tell him what was on your mind. When that was taken away from me, I kind of felt it was like: I'm the coach, you are the player. It doesn't matter what you have to say. You just do what I tell you to do."
"This is not college," he added. "This is professional sports. If you can't sit down and go talk to a man that you are busting your tail for, not even have the respect for anything that you have to say, like I said, the only thing I knew then was to rebel."
Coughlin reiterated that he hoped Burress could regain a sense of normalcy after his release from prison.
Said Coughlin: “I hope he gets some normalcy in his life and has a chance to spend some time with his family and that he gets to know his kids once again and his wife whose done a tremendous job of holding that family together for the last two years – she deserves some help.”
TC ON LOCKOUT: Coughlin is ‘optimistic’ that there will be an end to the lockout in the near future.
“I’m real optimistic,” Coughlin said. “I knew that going into this week that they had had a good couple of days the week before. From what I understand there may have been a little tension mounted a little bit today but I’m hoping that it has nothing to do with the optimism and the good feelings that have been created.”
He admitted that the lockout – and the lack of offseason workouts that come along with it – will affect the Giants training camp, whenever that starts.
“You’re going to have to gauge the level of conditioning, of course. No one’s had any contact work in the spring,” said Coughlin, who said he saw value in the Giants’ voluntary workouts. “…. But you trust the fact that they’ve lifted and they’ve conditioned. But you’re going to have to be in position where your gauging the level of conditioning before you start the real intense physical work.”
ALBANY OR N.J.? Coughlin said that if the lockout delays training camp past a certain date – he did not specify the date – that the Giants would be forced to move training camp from the campus of the University of Albany to their team training facility in East Rutherford, N.J.
All stats including Burress are through Dec. 2, 2008, which was the day of his suspension, which marked a total of 60 regular season games and six playoff games with Big Blue. Even the games in which Burress did not play, in which the Giants were 3-0 in his time, are included. The Giants have played 36 regular season games and one postseason game without Burress.
Giants with Burress: 40-20 (4-2 postseason)
Giants without Burress: 19-17 (0-1 postseason)
Giants with Burress in regular season: 25.03 points per game
Giants without Burress in regular season: 24. 19 points per game
Giants with Burress in playoffs: 17.5 points per game
Giants without Burress in playoffs: 11 points per game
Against playoff teams
Giants with Burress: 9-13 (4-2 postseason)
Giants without Burress: 5-12 (0-1 postseason)
Giants vs. Eagles with Burress: 6-1 (0-1 postseason)
Giants vs. Eagles without Burress: 0-5 (0-1 postseason)
Giants vs. Cowboys with Burress: 3-4 (1-0 postseason)
Giants vs. Cowboys without Burress: 3-2
Giants vs. Redskins with Burress: 6-2
Giants vs. Redskins without Burress: 4-0
Giants vs. NFC East with Burress: 15-7 (1-1 postseason)
Giants vs. NFC East without Burress: 7-7 (0-1 postseason)
Giants vs. AFC with Burress: 10-6 (1-0 postseason)
Giants vs. AFC without Burress: 4-4
Eli 300-yard games
With Plaxico: 7 in 60 regular season games
Without Plaxico: 7 in 36 regular season games
Eli TD and INT
With Plaxico: 90 TD, 63 INT (10 TD, 5 INT postseason)
Without Plaxico: 60 TD, 41 INT (0 TD, 2 INT postseason)
Eli 100+ passer rating
With Plaxico: 12 in 60 regular season games (2 in 6 postseason games)
Without Plaxico: 13 in 36 regular season games (0 in 1 postseason games)
Do these stats prove the Giants need Plax or should they pass? Are you surprised by these numbers? Let us know in the comments below.
But outside management, there's plenty of discussion as Burress' prison release date of June 6 nears. There are several Giants who have said that they want Burress back. But does he want to come back?
Left tackle David Diehl says if he were the wide receiver, he might want a fresh start elsewhere.
"I would like to say yes [about a return]," Diehl said on NFL Network on Friday. "He's had a lot of success for us as a player. But, if I were Plaxico, I would say no. With everything that happened, Plaxico has taken a lot of heat, not only through the media. I think about Michael Vick's situation. He went into a new situation, a new city, where he could almost start fresh with new teammates and go back to basics."
Numerous Giants ranging from Brandon Jacobs to Osi Umenyiora have stated that they want Burress back in blue.
Diehl said players would welcome back Burress, whom he described as a "good teammate" who "never wronged anybody."
But Diehl recognizes the distractions Burress will face if he comes backs.
"If I were Plaxico, I don't think I would want to," Diehl said of returning. "It's reality. It happened. It's easy for someone on the outside looking in to judge. But it's a whole different experience when you're the person it happened to. From this point on, he's going to live with this for the rest of his life. He can change, and I'm sure he's changed, since it happened. And I'm sure when he comes out, he'll be a better husband and father. He's going to want to prove all the naysayers wrong. That's enough to fuel anyone.
“More importantly, if I were in that position, in order to move on and start fresh, you have to get back to square one,” Diehl continued. “That's getting back to playing football. That's getting back to yourself, and not only enjoying your family, but enjoying your life and being happy again. For him, I think that's somewhere else."