NFC East: New York Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After the New York Giants announced Tuesday that they had hired former wide receiver David Tyree as their director of player development, I wrote this, saying I thought it was a bad hire because of Tyree's publicly expressed views on gay marriage and homosexuality in general. I stand by what I wrote because professional sports teams operate in public and need to be cognizant of perception.

[+] EnlargeDavid Tyree
Tom Berg/NFLPhotoLibraryFormer Giant David Tyree was hired Tuesday as the team's director of player development.
Hiring a player development director with such potentially harmful views as the ones Tyree expressed three years ago was an odd choice. That job puts Tyree in a position of influence and authority over players who might have legitimate fears about going to him for guidance, given his public comments. For that reason, I disagreed with the decision to hire him and still do.

Contrary to much of the breathless overreaction my post has received, nowhere in it did I call for Tyree's firing. Tyree has the right to pursue his career, the Giants have the right to hire the people they want to hire, and I have the right (actually, the professional obligation) to write critically about the things the Giants do when I disagree with them. I will continue to do so.

All of that said, anyone who cares about this issue on either side should absolutely read this story by Michael O'Keeffe in the New York Daily News. O'Keeffe spoke with Patrick Burke, the president of You Can Play. Burke told the Daily News that Tyree recently met with the organization's executive director, Wade Davis, and would continue talking with Davis in the future:
"There is nothing that can excuse the stuff he said three years ago," said Burke, whose organization battles homophobia in sports. “But we try to have conversations behind closed doors. Wade is impressed with David’s growth."

I'm all for growth. That is the point of what I wrote Tuesday and anything I've ever written about this issue. I think any conversation that helps move us in the direction of improved decency toward fellow human beings is one worth having, and kudos to Davis and Tyree for having such discussions.

On Tuesday, ESPN.com reached out to Tyree to offer him an opportunity to defend himself against the criticism, and he declined to do so. I don't want people to think we're not playing fair here. I also do think that, if Tyree's views have evolved in a more tolerant direction, it would be helpful to the overall discussion for him to express that as publicly as he once expressed his original views. But that's just my feeling on it, and he obviously isn't obligated to do so.

But he does have some work to do behind those closed doors of which Burke speaks.

If I were the Giants, I would think the important thing would be for the players with whom Tyree is working to know how he feels on these issues. If his views have evolved, he will need to find a way to make sure players who might not have felt welcome in his office based on his 2011 comments know they can feel welcome now. The job for which he was hired will put him in direct and important contact with a wide variety of young men, and if any of them had reason to feel that the team's director of player development was angrily prejudiced against them, that would be a shame.

But it sounds as though Tyree is working to make sure that is not the case, and if so, that's excellent.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So halfway through the New York Giants' training camp practice Wednesday, the whole team left the field, walked over into the field house and stood there for five minutes before coming back out and finishing practice.

Yes, it was odd.

What they told the fans as it was happening was that the team was going inside for a "cool-down break" and would return, which as I said it did. After the practice, coach Tom Coughlin confirmed that's what it was. He said that because four players had to leave Tuesday's practice due to issues with the heat, he promised he'd build a break into Wednesday's practice -- even though he didn't think it was as hot Wednesday.

"Today we had a breeze and we had cloud cover," said Coughlin, who stayed outside and talked to former Giant Shaun O'Hara instead of partaking in the shade himself. "But I said I was going to do it, so I did it."

Coughlin said he might keep doing it, in fact. Liked some things about it even other than the health benefits.

"If I keep it, it would be because of the heat we experienced [Tuesday], and there's nothing wrong with that," Coughlin said. "It gives them a sense of first half/second half. It gives them an opportunity to cool a little bit and come back ready to go. It gives me an opportunity, too, because after they've had the break they should be flying around."

For the record, not one Giants player left Wednesday's practice due to a heat issue. And all of those who left Tuesday's returned and practiced in full Wednesday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants GM Jerry Reese doesn't love talking about his tight end situation. He doesn't consider it as big a worry as some outside the organization consider it. He points out, correctly, that the Giants' top tight end over the past seven or eight seasons has tended to catch 40-50 passes a season, and he believes he doesn't have to spend major resources to acquire a run-blocking tight end who can offer such a minimal contribution in the passing game.

[+] EnlargeAdrien Robinson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsGiants GM Jerry Reese hasn't been shy in comparing tight end Adrien Robinson to Pro Bowl players.
That said, even Reese would have to admit that this year's tight end group looks a little bit thin.

Or would he?

"We feel like we have some young players who have some dynamic skill sets that can get out there and do it," Reese said Wednesday. "Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, a couple more young tight ends on the roster that we like. Those guys have to go out there and do it."

Fair enough. He has guys he likes athletically but who haven't proven anything yet. He thinks they can and has decided to bank on that. He thinks the risk is small. Robinson can definitely run-block, and if he ends up being able to catch the ball, so much the better.

Problem is, Reese kept talking. And said this:

"The tight end in Denver, Julius Thomas, how many catches did he have before last season? He didn't have many catches. Actually, I think he had one catch going into his third season. So hopefully, we can have a guy step out of the shadows and do something like that for us, because they have the skill set. They just have to get out there and do it."

Okay, so first things first. Julius Thomas, who caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns with Peyton Manning as his quarterback last season, has just joined Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on the list of players to whom Jerry Reese has now -- without solicitation -- compared to Robinson. You likely remember that Reese described Robinson by saying, "we hope he can be the JPP of tight ends" after drafting him in the fourth round in 2012. The reference was to the fact that Pierre-Paul was a raw player coming out of college who became a star in his second season. It was an unfair label to affix to Robinson, a fourth-round pick who caught a total of 29 passes in his four years of college football at Cincinnati.

Thomas caught 29 passes (for 453 yards and two touchdowns) in one season as a senior at Portland State in 2010. That was Thomas' only season of college football. The difference between him and Robinson is that Robinson played four years at Cincinnati, and no one ever thought to throw him the ball on a regular basis, whereas once Thomas decided to play football, they found he was pretty awesome at catching it.

So Reese's point on Robinson really isn't much different right now than it was on draft day 2012. He thinks the guy has the skills to be a good tight end in the NFL, but he admits he has no actual proof of that and he's hoping to see some of that proof.

Maybe Robinson can deliver it. If not, maybe Donnell can. Or Xavier Grimble. Or Daniel Fells or Kellen Davis, both of whom actually have a fair amount of NFL tight-end experience.

But based on the guys to whom he likes to compare him to, Reese really thinks Robinson has a lot of talent.

Andre Williams starting from the bottom

July, 23, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andre Williams was the featured back at Boston College. As a senior, he rushed for an NCAA-leading 2,177 yards along with 18 touchdowns on 355 carries.

That won’t be the case with the New York Giants.

If the 21-year-old rookie, who was selected by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft, ever wants to be a featured back in the NFL, he’s going to have to earn it -- and Williams knows that.

“I’m just looking to contribute in any way that I can, continue to do well in practice and build faith with the coaches so they can put me on the field,” Williams said Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeAndre Williams
AP Photo/Seth WenigThe NCAA's leading rusher in 2013, Andre Williams must get used to a reduced role with the Giants.
In the offseason, the Giants overhauled their backfield. They gave Rashad Jennings a four-year, $10 million contract to be their No. 1 rusher for 2014. But Jennings is going to need some plays off. And that’s where guys like David Wilson and Williams come in.

During training camp, Williams has been in with the starters in goal-line packages. He’s also lined up on special teams.

“He’s become more than a [straight-ahead runner],” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “He was not used that way at B.C.”

Williams, who Coughlin called “a high-conditioned, powerful athlete,” is looking to improve on his pass-catching and blocking techniques. Those are areas in which he must make strides if he’s going to gain the trust of Coughlin and the coaching staff.

Williams has tried to learn from the veteran running backs on the team. He’s looking forward to seeing some lanes open up.

“In college, being the workhorse at Boston College, every time I lined up I’d see eight or nine bodies in the box. Now, sometimes I’m coming out and there’s only five or six, so that’s definitely a positive,” he said.

Running backs coach Craig Johnson said he likes what he’s seen from Williams thus far.

“We are going to do drills all the time, and he’s coming along. He is big, strong and physical, and that is what you are looking for,” Williams said. “We just have to continue to practice the technique because it is not ever the same in practices and in the game. We are trying to make that as close as possible.”

Williams knows making the transition to the speed of the NFL game is going to be a challenge, but he’s ready for it.

After all, when asked if he would be able to excel in a goal-line role, Williams responded, “Absolutely. As long as it’s running the ball, I think I can excel.”
[+] EnlargeDevon Kennard
Julie Jacobson/AP PhotoThe Giants have seen great things out of rookie LB Devon Kennard through offseason team activities.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are desperate for one of their middle-round or late-round draft picks to turn out to be a helper. It's been way too long since that happened for them. But while it's still incredibly early, what they've seen so far from 2014 fifth-round pick Devon Kennard has them pretty excited.

The former USC linebacker has been working at the strongside linebacker position in early training camp practices, but he got some work at the vital middle linebacker spot in spring practices and showed an ability to rapidly and effectively pick up the responsibilities that go along with that position. With starting middle linebacker Jon Beason out, Kennard is likely the next option for that position behind veteran Jameel McClain. And after McClain was carted off the field with a foot injury Tuesday, the contingency plan was to use Kennard in the middle Wednesday. And they didn't expect the fact that he's a rookie to hold him back.

"Not at all if he can do it," linebackers coach Jim Hermann said before Wednesday's practice. "If he can handle it and get everyone lined up and understand the nuances and where he belongs, sure. He's a pretty thick kid, he can hit people, so that's good."

Kennard may be a "thick kid" physically, but he's a sharp one mentally, and that's where he's stood out in this embryonic portion of his career. He embraces the idea of playing the on-field leader role, knowing everyone's assignments and helping make sure they're carried out. And he's proud his coaches view him as such a quick study.

"I think they're definitely happy with how fast I've picked things up, but it's still a long way to go," Kennard said. "I still have a lot of things to correct from yesterday and I'm still taking steps every day to improve and to make sure I know what I need to do to keep playing at the level they expect of me."

Thing about it is, the Giants don't tend to expect much from their rookies early. If Kennard can be a major contributor on defense this year, that would be a huge bonus and make them feel very good about this particular fifth-round pick. And while the pads have yet to go on and the preseason games have yet to start, so far, so good.

"He played at USC and he played under four different coordinators there and played four different positions," Hermann said. "So I think he kind of got lost in the college shuffle a little bit. Again, we've got to go out and see him in live games, but based on what you see of him on film, he's not going to shy away from that part of it. He's calm, cool and collected. It's the speed of the game that's the question, and we'll see how he plays. But based on what we do out here, I don't think he's going to have a problem."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning is 33 years old and coming off the worst season of his career. But New York Giants GM Jerry Reese said Wednesday that the team expects a return to top form by their franchise quarterback in 2014.

Manning
"I expect nothing except for him to bounce back and be the Pro Bowl-caliber player that we know he can be," Reese said before Giants training camp practice. "He's still a young football player, all things considered, with respect to the quarterback position. So we expect him to come back and be a leader and bounce back and not have some of the things that happened to him last year and be a dynamic football player for us."

Manning threw a career-high and league-leading 27 interceptions in 2013. His completion percentage and yardage totals were his lowest since 2007 and 2008, respectively. And his 18 touchdown passes were the fewest he's ever thrown in a full season. It's fair to ask the question of whether Manning is on the decline, but the determination the Giants made this offseason was that he is not.

"Quarterback's a little bit different," Reese said. "Thirty-three is getting up there, but it's not like a running back at that age or some other position. Quarterbacks don't take hits like a lot of other positions do. So hopefully, Eli doesn't take a lot of hits like he took last year."

Many of Manning's problems in 2013 were traceable to the complete collapse of the Giants' offensive line in front of him. Still, his performance was alarming enough that the organization decided not to extend his contract this offseason. Manning is signed through 2015, and the Giants could have helped themselves against the salary cap with an extension, but they decided not to do it, and Reese said Wednesday they're not working on anything now, either.

"We keep all of our options open with respect to that, but right now it's nothing really to talk about," Reese said. "We're two days into training camp, and there's really no need to talk about contracts at this point."

With a big year, Manning could ensure one more big quarterback contract (likely an extension signed next offseason) to carry him through the end of his career. But if he slumps again, the Giants are going to have to start asking some tough questions about whether they need to replace him sooner than they expected to.
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- I wrote about the Tony Dungy-Michael Sam controversy on Tuesday, so you know where I come down on the gay rights issue. I think these are issues of human decency, not of religion or culture or the sanctity of the NFL locker room.

But if Dungy merely put his toe over the line and onto the wrong side of this issue, former New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree is the mayor of the wrong side of this issue. In 2011, Tyree said he'd trade his miracle "helmet catch," which led to the Giants winning Super Bowl XLII, in exchange for a law outlawing gay marriage. And he's publicly professed his belief that "there is no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay." Tyree has explained his views by citing his religious beliefs, which is an excuse a lot of people use and is, in my opinion, a crummy reason for treating fellow human beings poorly. You believe what you want to believe, but once you start using it as a weapon with which to mistreat other people, you have lost me.

Anyway, this comes up because the Giants hired Tyree on Tuesday as their new director of player development. And while I don't think wrongheaded views should necessarily prevent a person from seeking and holding a job in his chosen field, I'm surprised that the Giants would make such a tone-deaf move in the current NFL and social climate. The move was ripped by the Human Rights Campaign, and Tyree declined to comment about the criticism when contacted by ESPNNewYork.com.

Obviously, given the sensitive nature of the Michael Sam story, we're at an important social time in NFL history. One of the points of Sam's decision to live his life as an openly gay man trying to play in the NFL is that gay football players in the future will be less afraid to live their lives openly. Sam's story should lead us all to a deeper understanding of each other as people and to treat each other with more kindness and decency regardless of where we disagree or where we're different. People like Tyree stand in the way of that, which is why I don't think this is the right time for Tyree to hold a job like this in the NFL.

Imagine, if you will, there was a hypothetical closeted gay player on the Giants who was thinking about coming out. Maybe he was inspired by Sam, maybe not, but as of, say, Monday, he was thinking about telling the world he's gay. He was nervous but excited about finally not having to feel as though he had to hide who he is -- a great, positive thing for the player and the world in general.

And then on Tuesday, the Giants go and hire a guy to work in a position of authority in the organization, and this guy loudly and publicly believes what Tyree believes.

What does that player think now? What does that player do now? What message has his organization sent to players in that position?

Tyree might well be qualified to hold the job of director of player development. Heck, he might be great at it. And maybe his medieval views on this issue won't affect his ability to do the job or relate to players in any way. But given what's going on in the NFL and the world right now, I have to think the Giants could have made a less tone-deaf hire.

Giants Camp Report: Day 1

July, 22, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of training camp:

Giants coach Tom Coughlin was not at all happy that four of his players had to leave the team's first practice of training camp with heat-related problems. Guard Brandon Mosley, who had been working at starting right guard in place of the retired Chris Snee, was carted off early in practice. The cart also came for linebacker Spencer Adkins and tackle Charles Brown for what Coughlin described as heat-related issues, and Coughlin made it clear in an interview with Sports Illustrated's Don Banks that he was not pleased about it. The Giants will look to make it all the way through their second practice Wednesday, when the high temperature is forecast to be 92 degrees. The high Tuesday was 89.

Linebacker Jameel McClain was also carted off, but that was due to a foot injury. X-rays on McClain's foot were negative, which is good news for the Giants as McClain is filling in for middle linebacker Jon Beason, who also has a foot injury but hopes to be back in time for Week 1. For what it's worth, rookie Devon Kennard continues to look good at linebacker. He worked on the strong side but has been mentioned as someone who could handle the middle linebacker responsibilities.

Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., the team's first-round pick, pulled up short on a pass route in practice, leading to an interception of Eli Manning by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Coughlin seemed annoyed about that and said of Beckham, "He has a ways to go." Earlier in the day, Beckham told us he was planning to watch out for and be careful with the hamstring injury that held him back in minicamp. It's possible the incident here was an example of that, but Beckham's health and overall progress will be worth watching as camp goes along. He has obvious blazing speed and good hands, but he will need to run his routes and run them again if he's to advance to the point where he's a Week 1 helper in the new offense.

Manning shows absolutely no ill effects of the ankle surgery that sidelined him for a portion of his spring work. He's practicing as usual and seems excited about working in the new offense.

The Giants used rookie running back Andre Williams as the goal-line back during that portion of practice Tuesday. Williams likely could slide into that role right away while he works on the finer points of his NFL game as a rookie.

McClain (foot) carted off, X-rays negative

July, 22, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jameel McClain, who was carted off the field on Tuesday, the first day of New York Giants' training camp, underwent X-rays on his foot, which were negative, a source told ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson.

The source told Anderson that if McClain experiences soreness on Wednesday, the team may follow up with an MRI.

McClain has been subbing in for the recovering Jon Beason at middle linebacker.

“He thought it was a foot issue, an irritation of the foot, but it was one of the metatarsals, so the medical staff came over to look at that,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “It will be interesting to see what the discussion is inside.”

McClain is expected to start at strongside linebacker but moved to the middle with Beason coming back from a foot injury, which he suffered during organized team activities. Mark Herzlich also has experience playing middle linebacker.

“I’m hoping that this is just a matter of a sore foot with Jameel, so we’ll see,” Coughlin said.

Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham came up lame while running a route, which was intercepted by No. 1 corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Beckham Jr. had been nursing a hamstring injury.

“He’s got some work to do,” Coughlin said of Beckham, the team’s first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Right guard Brandon Mosley was also carted off, likely due to dehydration issues. Rookie Weston Richburg stepped in in place of Mosley.

Linebacker Spencer Adkins and tight end Xavier Grimble left the field, too.

“Most of them were heat-related issues,” Coughlin said. “I’ll have to wait to get inside.”
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Adrien Robinson has a simple-sounding goal as he embarks on his third season with the New York Giants. One of four tight ends on the roster with a shot to emerge as the Week 1 starter, Robinson is hoping to rise above the rest of his position group.

Robinson
"I would hope my role is the starter," Robinson said before the Giants' first training camp practice Tuesday. "But all four of us want to be the starter, so we'll see what happens."

Not exactly a bold proclamation. But tepid is the watchword for the Giants' tight end situation. The other three in the four to which he refers are likely Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells, though he could have added undrafted Xavier Grimble in there as a fifth candidate. No one in that group has had much experience or success in the NFL, so Robinson was as good a chance as any of them to win the job.

But what's important -- and amazing -- to remember about Robinson is that he really, really, really hasn't played. Robinson has appeared in a total of three games in his first two NFL seasons (and lasted only one play in the only game he played in 2013). He hasn't caught an NFL pass, but really that's nothing new for him, as he only caught a total of 29 passes in his four years playing college football at Cincinnati.

The Giants drafted Robinson in the fourth round of the 2012 draft because he'd dazzled them with a workout in which he'd come off as a physical freak. They believed they could develop his raw skills and make him into a serviceable NFL tight end. GM Jerry Reese famously said of Robinson on draft day, "we hope he can be the JPP of tight ends," referring to 2010 first-rounder Jason Pierre-Paul, who was raw coming out of school but blossomed into a dominant player in his second season. That has, unfortunately, stuck with Robinson, though it was always unfair to compare a fourth-round flyer to a first-round pick.

Yet, with no other clear better options on the roster, here Robinson is with a chance to start at tight end for the Giants. He's engaged. He's talked about how the change from longtime tight ends coach Mike Pope to Kevin Gilbride Jr. has helped him, as his new position coach is much closer to his own age and in some ways easier for him to communicate with. He believes the new offense is a fun one in which to play tight end.

"I think the tight end moves around more than what I'm used to," Robinson said Tuesday. "And I think that could showcase my ability better."

Heck, at this point in his career, it'd be something for Robinson to showcase his ability at all. Watching him in practice Tuesday, he still looks mechanical and sometimes confused as a route-runner. He remains a work in progress. The Giants would tell you they don't need their tight end to catch many passes as long as he can block in the run game, and Robinson can definitely do that. What remains to be seen is whether he can... well, play. It's not something of which he's done very much.
Chris SneeJason O. Watson/Getty ImagesChris Snee retires after 10 seasons and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Offensive linemen don't get stats. They don't gain yards or score touchdowns or sack quarterbacks. Check out Chris Snee's page on ESPN.com right here and, well, you don't see a whole lot of information. But Snee makes a strong case as the best offensive lineman in New York Giants history. And on the occasion of his retirement Monday after 10 seasons, four Pro Bowl appearances and two Super Bowl titles with the Giants, it was clear that his legacy would live large in the memories of those who watched him up close.

"Strength, power, mental toughness, work ethic, the way he approached the game ... he had everything you want," former Giants offensive lineman David Diehl said in a phone interview Monday. "Sincerely, one of the best guards I've ever seen."

You have to play guard at a pretty high level -- and for a pretty long time -- in the NFL to make the kind of imprint Snee made on the game. Monday afternoon, Giants owner John Mara said Snee was the first player he'd ever told, on the occasion of his retirement, that he would definitely be in the team's Ring of Honor.

"We just have to figure out a date," Mara said shortly before Snee came out to formally announce his retirement.

Mara recalled that 2004 draft, in which the Giants were making the big blockbuster deal to trade up for quarterback Eli Manning. He said there was a debate about whether to include that year's second-round pick (No. 34 overall) or the 2005 first-rounder in the deal, and they ultimately decided to hold onto the 2004 second-rounder, "because we felt like it was going to be a real good player, and was it ever."

Snee was that player, though at the time he was picked the bigger headline was about his relationship with Kate Coughlin, the daughter of Giants coach Tom Coughlin. Snee would end up marrying Kate and fathering three of Coughlin's grandsons -- creating a professional arrangement that could have been awkward but which both son-in-law and father-in-law discussed emotionally and lovingly Monday at its end.

"People say, 'You're not very objective about this.' Well, I'm not pleading my case for objectivity right now," Coughlin said. "I'm just telling you the quality of the man is greater than the quality and the ability of the football player, and that's as good as it gets. People asked about coaching your son-in-law, 'Is it hard?' I'll take 100 of them. If there's 53, I'll take 53 of him."

Manning smiled Monday as he recalled coming into the league at the same time as Snee. Two quiet guys who didn't say much, even to each other as they roomed together in camp and on the road that year, Manning and Snee ended up as part of the backbone of a team that won two Super Bowls. Manning said Snee took some grief early in his career for being the coach's son-in-law, but that he handled it the best way anyone could.

"He became a dominant player," Manning said. "And that helped him really take it in stride."

Dominant. The best player on an offensive line that became a Giants calling card from 2006-10. Snee, Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie quite famously started 38 games in a row at one point. They helped knock off the undefeated New England Patriots and win Super Bowl XLII. Diehl says he still has the copy of the January 12, 2009 ESPN the Magazine cover that pictured the five of them in a circle, looking down at the camera, under the headline "Are These Guys the NFL's Real MVPs?"

"We wanted to be the leaders of our football team," Diehl said. "We had a mentality that we were going to push for each other, work for each other and turn things around for the New York Giants. Chris embodied everything about that mentality. He did it quietly, but he lived it."

Snee lists at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds, which makes him a large human being but not an especially large NFL guard. He fought the perception that he was undersized and did it by emphasizing strength and power in his game. Coughlin said Monday that Snee and former defensive tackle Linval Joseph regularly competed in the weight room for the title of strongest player on the team.

"People knocked him for his size, said he was short," Diehl said. "But he had incredible strength, an ability to get under people on double teams, use his legs to move people off a spot and dictate the action. Just a tough, hard-nosed, hard-working football player."

The incredibly physical way Snee played is likely the reason it's over for him at 32. Both hips and his right elbow are shot to the point where he doesn't feel he can play anymore, and after an offseason of trying to get himself in shape to do that, he figured out within the past couple of weeks that he could not.

"I have to admit that I can no longer play," Snee said. "It's a sad day, but once I leave here, I'll be at peace with it."

Snee is a guard, and as such he's a guy who doesn't get or seek a lot of attention. So Monday wasn't easy. He broke down at the start of his retirement news conference, and when it ended he gathered two of his sons in his arms as they cried. He said he'd have to "disappear" for a couple of weeks, but that he expected to return at some point this season to catch a practice and some games because his sons love it so much.

"This is home," Snee said. "My kids love the games. They're going to want to come. I'm going to want to go. It's going to be tough at first, but that's the way life goes."

Snee said "everybody wants the Strahan ending," referring to the fact that former Giant Michael Strahan's final game was the Super Bowl XLII victory over the Patriots, but he's OK with not getting that ending. He'll wish his final game had been something better than the seven-sack mess the Giants delivered in Week 3 of 2013 in Carolina, but that's not in his control. And if he listened to those who spoke around him Monday, he knows he doesn't have to worry about that being a part of his legacy.

"As an offensive lineman, you don't want the glory, you don't want the fame," Diehl said. "All you want is that 'W' for your team."

The New York Giants won 89 games with Snee on the field from 2004 to 2012. Two of those 89 were Super Bowls. Offensive linemen don't get stats, but they'll take those. And if you're wondering about Chris Snee's legacy, it doesn't need numbers. All you had to do Monday for proof of that was ask. Anybody.
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I understand those who want to grumble their so-whats about Monday's big David Wilson news. If you're a New York Giants fan, there's a chance you're sick of hearing so much about Wilson and seeing so little from him. The Giants' 2012 first-round pick hasn't made much of an impact, and even he'd admit he needs to show more than he's shown.

All of that said, Monday's news (via Wilson himself on Twitter) that Wilson has been "cleared for everything" following neck surgery can only be a positive for the Giants as they open training camp Tuesday. They were prepared to move forward, if they had to, without Wilson in their backfield. But they're in much better shape with him as a viable option.

Start with Wilson's raw ability. He touched the ball only 75 times on offense as a rookie in 2012, but he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per reception. A better look at his game-breaking speed showed up on kick returns, where his 26.9-yard average ranked among the league leaders. There is little doubt that when the ball is in his hands, Wilson is a threat to do something special.

The issue in 2013 was getting and keeping the ball in Wilson's hands. After Andre Brown was hurt in the final preseason game, the Giants installed and talked up Wilson as their workhorse starter -- a role for which he may not have been psychologically prepared. He fumbled twice in the opener and was benched for it. The Giants eased him back into the offensive mix in a Week 3 loss in Carolina and a Week 4 loss in Kansas City, showing good flashes before getting hurt in the Week 5 loss to the Eagles. And that was the end of his season. A lost season, to be sure, but Wilson just turned 23 last month and there remains plenty of time for him to remind us of all the positives he brings.

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Kathy WillensDavid Wilson tweeted on Monday that he's been cleared to return to the Giants' backfield.
It's hard to know for sure what kind of role Wilson will occupy in the Giants' backfield this year, because injuries and circumstances always force changes in plans. But it's fair to assume the Giants will look for ways to use him, given that his speed offers them something their other running backs don't. Rashad Jennings was signed to be the do-it-all starter, but no one's sure he can be that. Power runner Andre Williams was drafted in the fourth round after a brilliant college season, but he needs work in pass protection and other areas before they can trust him enough to put him in a game. Peyton Hillis offers some reliability, but nothing special at this point. Michael Cox is a second-year back they like, but he brings his own question marks. Add Wilson to the mix and you have a group deep in talent and diverse in skill -- plenty of different toys for new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo as he builds the Giants' offense.

Not having to deal with the pressure of being the only real option at running back, as he was in Week 1 last year, should be a help to Wilson. The depth of this year's group should protect against the total collapse the Giants suffered due to injury at the position, and the creativity of the coaching staff in making opportunities for all of the backs tailored to their specific abilities should help the running game be more productive. The Giants also believe their offensive line will block better this year, which shouldn't be hard.

Still ultra-talented, Wilson is also now apparently healthy again. He's learned his lesson from last September about the way they want him to carry the ball in traffic, and the manner in which that lesson was taught ensures he's not going to forget it. The current structure of the Giants' roster should land him in positions that maximize what he does well and minimize what he still struggles with. All in all, the return of Wilson to the backfield can be only a positive for the Giants in 2014.
With the news breaking Sunday night that longtime New York Giants guard Chris Snee was planning to announce his retirement, one angle that came to mind was the potential impact this could have on Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

Snee
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Snee is Coughlin's son-in-law -- married to Coughlin's daughter and the father of three of Coughlin's grandsons, who are often there to greet Coughlin in the locker room after games. The family is a very close one, and as driven and intense as Coughlin is as the Giants' coach, he's a man who values time with his family a great deal. Having Snee on the Giants for the past 10 years has delivered a tangible benefit to Coughlin, providing an easy means of maintaining a unique form of work-life balance. Not having Snee on the team -- or at least in the building for injury rehab, as he was last year -- is going to feel odd.

For the record, I believe Coughlin when he says he doesn't think about retiring. People outside the building talk about it because he's the oldest coach in the league (turning 68 next month), but Coughlin always says he doesn't feel old and has nothing in particular he's looking to do in retirement. He loves coaching and remains as good a coach as the NFL has. Other than the external perceptions of others, there's really no basis for a discussion about his retirement. My opinion is there's no real reason to think Coughlin will or should give this up any time soon.

But as we look big-picture, I think it's worth considering how the loss of Snee from the roster could affect the way Coughlin looks at his job. Something's going to be different for Coughlin this year. Snee has been on every Giants team he's coached. Not having him and his family around will have an effect that goes beyond that of any other player's departure. I'm confident it won't affect the way Coughlin approaches his work and coaches the team, because he's obviously a high-level professional with a rare ability to maintain focus and priorities. I'm just saying it's not out of the question that this particular move could affect the way Coughlin feels about the job in the big picture, and could factor into decisions he makes about it down the road.

Giants' projected roster

July, 18, 2014
Jul 18
11:00
AM ET
Projecting the New York Giants' 53-man roster before training camp begins:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
The Giants didn't like carrying three quarterbacks last year. They did so because they drafted Nassib as a fourth-round project with the thought that he wouldn't be active for any games as a rookie. But this year, they've come out and said that Nassib needs to win the No. 2 job. He worked as the clear No. 2 ahead of Curtis Painter in OTAs and minicamp, and I think he'd have to fall flat on his face in order to lose the job. If Manning goes down, the Giants are cooked anyway, whether it's Painter or Nassib behind him. So they might as well keep developing the kid unless he's totally incompetent.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Five running backs feels like a lot, so Hillis or 2013 seventh-rounder Michael Cox had to go. It's possible the Giants carry five and Williams could start out as this year's Nassib -- a fourth-rounder who's inactive for at least a little while as he gets his feet wet in the NFL with an eye toward a contribution further down the road. This list also assumes Wilson is cleared for contact by the neck exam he has scheduled for July 21, which is no sure thing. If he isn't, then Cox or Kendall Gaskins could find his way onto the team.

FULLBACK (1)

It's a camp battle between Hynoski and John Conner, but the Giants won't keep both. My hunch is that Hynoski has shown enough ability to produce with the ball in his hands that he'll get the edge in Ben McAdoo's new offense ahead of Conner as long as he's healthy.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Holliday is likely to make the team as a return man, though it's possible he could get squeezed out if the team decides Beckham, Quintin Demps and either Randle or Jernigan are enough to handle those responsibilities. The Giants signed Holliday before they drafted Beckham, after all.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

In spite of the lack of quality experienced options, McAdoo's offense does appear to want to use the tight end a lot. Some Giants fans are hoping an outside name or two can replace some of the ones on this list, but as of now, this is what they have, and they'll hope something decent comes of it. They are eager to see what Robinson can do if he can ever keep himself healthy, and they love what Donnell showed them last year on special teams and think he deserves the reward of an opportunity here. Daniel Fells or Xavier Grimble could beat out Davis for that third spot without too much trouble.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

There are injury and health concerns with Beatty, Jerry and possibly Snee that could knock a name or two off this list with an IR or PUP designation. The Giants signed Brown and Jerry as veteran backups. They like Mosley's upside, and he could have the edge over someone like Eric Herman or James Brewer.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

I thought about undrafted Kelcy Quarles for one of the defensive tackle spots, and I guess it's possible he could beat out someone like Patterson in camp. But everyone else on here seems like a lock.

LINEBACKERS (6)

If Beason's foot injury isn't healed in time to allow him to start the season, someone like Terrell Manning or Dan Fox could sneak on here. More likely, the Giants would go with five linebackers while waiting for Beason and add someone on the defensive line or in the secondary.

CORNERBACKS (5)

It helps the numbers that Jayron Hosley will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a drug violation. If he does make the team, the Giants will have to clear a spot for him in Week 5. This group could also swell if the Giants decide they need to keep sixth-round pick Bennett Jackson and/or Charles James for special teams. It's going to be tough to make the Giants' roster as a corner this summer.

SAFETIES (5)

It's going to be tricky to get fifth-round pick Berhe on this roster, but the Giants like him enough to make room at the expense of someone like Brewer on the offensive line or Charles James at cornerback.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Special-teams coach Tom Quinn said there was a kicker competition between Brown and Brandon McManus, so flip a coin on that one. The other two spots here are in stone barring injury.

Giants roster preview: Safeties

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
12:00
PM ET
During the week of June 30, we took a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' offense heading into training camp. This week, we've done the same thing with the defense -- one position group at a time. Today, with a mere four days left until the Giants report for camp, is the final installment -- safeties.

Projected starters: Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown

Projected backups: Quintin Demps, Cooper Taylor, Nat Berhe

Others fighting for roster spots: Kyle Sebetic, Thomas Gordon, C.J. Barnett

Brown says he feels good coming off the knee surgery that cost him a chance to start alongside his Pro Bowl mentor Rolle in 2013. He's been eager for a while now to follow up on his breakout eight-interception 2012 season, and the Giants are hoping his knee allows him to do that. If it does not, thanks to the suspension and release of Will Hill, things could get thin here in a hurry. Demps was signed more as a kickoff returner than a safety, but at this point he's the clear No. 3 when they want to go to their three-safety defense, and he's the projected substitute starter if Rolle or Brown can't play.

Behind Demps are two recent fifth-round picks -- Taylor from 2013 and Berhe from this year. Given the Giants' numbers at cornerback, it's hard to see them carrying five safeties, so it's possible both guys can't make the team and they might have to try to put Berhe on the practice squad. They do like Taylor, who had injuries last season but has come back larger and stronger this year and could have an opportunity for more playing time if he shows he can handle it.

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