EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' hope, when training camp began, was that someone from their group of unproven tight ends would emerge as a clear starter -- a do-it-all tight end who could be used in a variety of roles.
That has not happened.
"I really think that there'll be a group of guys that'll play that'll help us in different situations and will be matched up according to the circumstance," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after practice Monday. "I think that's where it's going to go. I think there's a lot of roles for that spot."
The four tight ends likely to make the final roster are, in no particular order, Larry Donnell, Adrien Robinson, Daniel Fells and Kellen Davis. Donnell was the nominal starter for much of camp, but Davis was the starter in Friday's preseason game against the Jets. Robinson played every snap of the successful two-minute drive at the end of the first half. Fells has returned from a knee injury to take a larger role in practice recently.
"I think it's very close," Coughlin said. "I think, some days, it's very difficult to see who has done what better than someone else."
Coughlin and the Giants won't say this publicly, but the reason for this is that there isn't a strong option in the group. As a result, an offense that wants its tight end to play a large role will have to shuffle players in and out at the position depending on whether they need a run blocker, a receiving option, an H-back ... whatever role a certain play, opponent or situation calls for.
"That's not necessarily what the play was, but the plan has evolved to that," Coughlin said. "People can be utilized for their skills in different ways."
The Giants open the regular season in two weeks in Detroit against the Lions.