Friday, August 5, 2011
Time for other tight ends to step up
By Mike Mazzeo
There's only one Baas in town -- and it isn't Kevin.
The Giants were dealt a devastating blow on Friday morning when they learned that tight end Kevin Boss had signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Oakland Raiders.
(Center David Baas -- pronounced "Boss" -- is now the lone Boss left.)
The Giants currently have five other tight ends on their roster -- Travis Beckum, Ben Patrick, Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe and Christian Hopkins -- but none of them possesses the type of offense skill that Boss displayed during his four seasons in New York. In 2010, Boss served as one of Eli Manning's most reliable targets, snagging 35 balls for 531 yards and five touchdowns.
"It sucks," Beckum, who is entering his third NFL season, said of Boss' departure. "Kevin's been here since my rookie year and he's established himself. Kevin and I were close. He taught me a lot of stuff.
"But it's nothing personal. Kevin knows I wish nothing but the best for him -- he has to do what he has to do, and that's in Oakland."
Said head coach Tom Coughlin: "The guys that are here are going to have to prove to us that we can continue and run the offense that we want to run, and if we have to make adjustments, well then we’ll have to do it."
Beckum, who caught 13 passes for 116 yards and two TDs in 2010, should be elevated to the top spot on the depth chart. And the 24-year-old believes he's ready to step into that role.
"I'm ready to do whatever I have to do, whatever they ask me," said Beckum, who was featured in a lot of two tight-end packages with Boss last season. "Whether I'm coming out of the backfield, split out, at the 'Y' or in goal line sets; whatever they ask me to do, I'm willing to do it."
Coughlin feels that Beckum needs to become more consistent in 2011.
"We're continuing to develop Beckum into a more consistent player," Coughlin said. "He'll make a great play and then a not-so-great play."
Beckum thinks consistency will come with the additional reps he's slated to receive in both practices and games.
"I think that the more times I run a post route, the better I'm going to get at it, as opposed to running it one time and doing something else," Beckum said. "I think consistency is key and reps are crucial in that aspect."
Ballard, a second-year pro who is known more for his blocking ability, could conceivably have a greater role this season. He said he learned a lot from Boss during his rookie campaign.
"He works hard and he's smart," Ballard said of Boss. "He knows what he's doing on every play, and just the way he approaches the game is what I look at most."
Ballard believes the experience he gained in year one will help in year two.
"This year's camp is a lot easier for me," said Ballard, 23, who said he wants to become more of a two-way threat. "Now I can start concentrating on the little things."
Pascoe, who had nine catches for 72 yards in 2010, stepped in and filled in admirably at fullback after Madison Hedgecock went down with a injury. But the 25-year-old, now in his third year in the league, is only sitting in on the tight end meetings during training camp.
"I'm not sure right now [where I'm going to play]," said Pascoe, who like Ballard would be used the majority of the time on running downs. "I'm playing tight end and fullback. I'll play wherever they need me to play."
Pascoe said he's put on about five extra pounds coming into camp, but isn't concerned about it.
"Coming into camp you want to come in a little heavy," Pascoe said. "But when you work out, the weight tends to trim off pretty fast."
Coughlin alluded to the fact that the team could try to add a veteran to the mix before the start of the season.
"You're always looking for whatever you can to improve everywhere," Coughlin said. "So that's not gonna stop."
But for right now, the Giants are going to have to make due with what they have.
"With Kevin gone, there's a big void that needs to be filled, and all these tight ends are going to try to fill it," Ballard said. "We've got to get better everyday and we'll see where it goes from here."
Added Beckum: "People need to step up, especially when people leave."