NFC East: David Tyree
Click here to go to the Tyree feature, which actually includes two photos and the memories of five Patriots, five Giants and even back judge Scott Helverson, and read what the people involved in the play were thinking at the time that it happened.
I saw a replay of this Sunday night, and what struck me was what an incredible play it was by Eli Manning, who should have been sacked at least twice and made a perfect laser-beam throw into tight coverage. I remember thinking at the time that Manning had done a brilliant job of escaping, and I know it's been mentioned again over the years. But since the play has become known as the "Tyree play" because of the memorably odd way in which Tyree caught the ball (and the bizarre fact that he never caught another in an NFL game), I think there are probably some people out there who don't fully appreciate Manning's role in it. From where we sit now, it appears to have been a look into the future -- Manning toughing it out, extending a critical play and attempting (and making) a dangerous throw to a receiver no one else trusted but him. Seems like Manning's making a career out of that kind of stuff, no?
"I don't worry about our schedule. I think our schedule needs to worry about us."
It's no secret that I've been among the Giants' biggest doubters as they've raced out to their hot start. And it's not as though they're not without their issues. It's still true that they've only scored 14 more points than they've allowed this year. They're still statistically one of the worst run defenses and run offenses in the league. The offensive line is still having problems. And as a result of all of this, they're not likely to go out and dominate anybody.
But the one place the Giants are dominating is in the standings, where they're 6-2. Only the Packers and the 49ers have better records in the NFC. (The Steelers could get there in the AFC with a win Sunday night.) And when you add up everything that's gone wrong for the Giants since the start of training camp and you look up and realize they have the third-best record in the league, you can only conclude they they're tougher than reheated steak and take a back seat to no one in the guts department.
They played this game, you may remember, without their starting center, their leading rusher and their best receiver. It would have been borderline excusable if they hadn't scored a point all night. And in the first half, they didn't. But the defense was up to the task. The defensive line was pressuring Brady to the point where the Hall of Famer looked rattled. Corey Webster was hanging in there in man coverage, as he has all year.
And then, in the second half, when Brady pulled his vampire act and led the Patriots down the field for a touchdown that gave them a three-point lead with 1:36 left, the Giants never even looked at the ground. They gave the ball to their quarterback, who's playing the position as well as anybody outside of Wisconsin this year. They put the ball in the hands of their leader, who's the kind of athlete who keeps his head about him at all times -- even while all those around him are losing theirs. Eli Manning took the ball and did Brady one better. He found Ballard over the middle for the play that reminded everybody of David Tyree in the Super Bowl. He took advantage of a dumb pass interference call by the Patriots at the goal line. And on a broken play, being chased by two defenders when a sack might have meant a loss, he slung it one more time, found Ballard in the back corner of the end zone and won the game.
Manning has been playing like an MVP candidate this year. His stats say so. His relentless, almost bloodless cool under pressure says so. His record absolutely says so. And because of Manning, the Giants have been able to overcome all of the obstacles in their path this year. Manning deserves credit for Ballard and Victor Cruz and, in key spots in this game, Ramses Barden turning into legitimate options in the passing game. He deserves credit for delivering time and again in spite of the troubles the line and the running game are having in front of him. And what Manning and the Giants did Sunday, with their latest win, was announce to the league what Rolle had boasted a few days earlier. Not only are they not scared of their tough remaining schedule -- the teams on that schedule have reason to be scared of them.
Adam Schefter reported that the new deal would shift the threshold for unrestricted free agency back to four years' service time, and if that happens, every team's offseason plan would be affected. Today's breakfast links will address some of the key players on whom the NFC East teams might have to make key decisions.
The news alters Doug Free's situation quite a bit, and could conceivably impact the Cowboys' ability to pursue other big-money free agents depending on the amount of outside interest Free draws as an unrestricted free agent. As the Cowboys have made clear, Free is a must-sign. But Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen would become issues under those guidelines as well.
DeMarcus Ware spoke to NFL.com's Steve Wyche and had lots of good things to say about Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, the Cowboys' offseason workouts and the change the team made at head coach midway through the 2010 season: "You go from Wade Phillips, which is a guy, he's more tailored to the older guys and developing younger guys," Ware said. "Then you have a younger coach come in, which is Jason Garrett, he's more of the Bill Parcells-type guy. He likes putting the pads on. He likes doing a whole bunch of the fundamental stuff and just focusing on that, doing the right things and just little things like that." Garrett's players clearly bought in last year, and if that continues and the defense gets solidified, Ware's and others' prediction of a Cowboys rebound are totally reasonable.
New York Giants
The Giants could potentially be the hardest-hit team in the division by a rule that makes 4+ guys into UFAs. Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss, Barry Cofield, Steve Smith and Mathias Kiwanuka are among the players on the New York roster in line to make bigger money than they would have under last year's rules. Of those, Bradshaw and Kiwanuka are likely the highest-priority guys, along with Smith, though Smith's knee injury hurts his potential market value and should help the Giants keep him. Boss and Cofield are key contributors but could have to be sacrificed to the open market if Bradshaw's price goes through the roof.
Jemele Hill writes that David Tyree has the right to his surprisingly strong stance against gay marriage. (He says he'd trade his Super Bowl helmet catch and title to prevent it.) Technically, she's right, of course. But just because he has the right to spout intolerance doesn't necessarily mean he should.
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley is probably the most significant Eagles name that would be affected by the four-year UFA threshold. My guess is, if Bradley's price were to spike, the Eagles would move on with other free-agent plans and just keep Jamar Chaney at middle linebacker. But I wonder if Bradley, who's had injury problems, will generate much open-market interest on a market this crowded.
He's about to be an Eagles rookie, but Jaiquawn Jarrett is still a New York City kid at heart, and he showed support for the community from which he came.
Have to think inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh and right tackle Stephon Heyer are the two most significant Redskins in the UFA zone, but the potential move of Lorenzo Alexander to the inside to make room for first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan could help the team's leverage if McIntosh wants more than they want to pay him. And whether Heyer comes back or not, the Redskins will still need to find a starting right tackle. Jamaal Brown is a six-year guy who was going to be a UFA no matter what.
Because of the Redskins' ties to the state of Maryland (not to mention those of the Baltimore Ravens), the state is saying it could lose more than $40 million in tax revenue during an NFL lockout. This was a key part of the NFLPA's argument against the lockout in court -- the idea that people far beyond the playing field would be affected. Fortunately, it now seems as if there's little about which to worry.
Happy to talk more free agency as the day unfolds. Let me know what you think.
Yahoo! Sports' Mike Silver, in a long piece about the Eagles' post-lockout plans, wrote of the connection between Haynesworth and new Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn, who was Haynesworth's line coach in Tennessee. Silver cites an Eagles source saying that Washburn "is convinced he can get the most out of Haynesworth" and "wants him badly." I have no doubt that both Silver and Washburn are correct, which is why I don't think the Redskins would consider dealing Haynesworth to Philadelphia. I believe he'd thrive there, and that means destroying the Redskins twice a year. I also don't think, no matter how badly Washburn might want him, that the Eagles' front office would deal significant assets for Haynesworth and his $5.4 million salary.
Over at the NFC West blog, Mike Sando mulled the idea of Haynesworth and the St. Louis Rams, who also run the 4-3 defense for which Big Al believes he's so much better suited. The Rams have a defensive head coach in Steve Spagnuolo, and Mike believes he could get something out of Haynesworth. Mike does not, however, believe Haynesworth is the kind of player the Rams like to bring in:
The Rams know what they want on defense. They have not taken big risks with the types of personalities they've added. Chris Long, Fred Robbins and James Laurinaitis have been steady players. Haynesworth does not fit the mold.
Mike and I spoke about this Wednesday, and we agreed that we're both interested to find out whether the Redskins would cut Haynesworth if they didn't end up getting enough for him in trade. They could have done it last year but opted instead to keep him around and on the bench, even inactive for some games. They could do that again if Mike Shanahan wants to, and they obviously don't have the kind of relationship with Haynesworth that would lead them to deal him for his own sake. It's possible they could decide they're just sick of having him around, but doing that would heighten the risk of his signing with Washburn and Philly. So this is an interesting situation that bears watching when and if the lockout does finally end.
London Fletcher has actually been calling defensive plays during the Redskins' player workouts. Practicing with a folded-up piece of paper in his back pocket and pulling it out to call plays from the 3-4 defense they're all still trying to master. Every day we say there's no way to know what these workouts mean and what, if any, lasting effects they could have. But you've got to hand it to Fletcher for the leadership he's shown during this time.
In a radio interview, Trent Williams talked about why he hasn't been at those workouts. He also detailed some of the things he's been doing in his own personal workouts, including boxing.
Andy Reid held an online chat with Eagles fans through the Philly Inquirer's website. Some tidbits, including the surprising news that he's leaning toward Stewart Bradley, not Jamar Chaney, at middle linebacker.
LeSean McCoy showed up at a charity auction and spoke on a number of topics, including his review of the Eagles' draft. As a running back, yes, he approves of selecting a guard in the first round.
Todd Archer wonders if Jerry Jones might take a lesson from Mark Cuban, who silenced his own normally boisterous personality while his Dallas Mavericks made their run to an NBA title. As someone who (like Todd) has covered Cowboys games and tried in vain to muscle his way to the front of the postgame pack that interviews Jerry Jones in the middle of the locker room immediately after it opens to the media, I'm going to say I'd be surprised, and leave it at that.
Teams are hearing from nervous training camp sites wondering if they still plan to show up in late July/early August as scheduled. The city of San Antonio would really like to know what the Cowboys are planning to do.
New York Giants
Tom Coughlin took the family to the Yankees game Wednesday night and was a pregame visitor of Yankee manager Joe Girardi's during batting practice. Coughlin stopped to talk and was asked about, among other things, Plaxico Burress' recent comments about the lousy relationship the two of them had. "I'll stay with the same line: I hope he gets some normalcy in his life and gets to spend some time with his family and that he gets to know his kids once again," Coughlin said, according to The Star-Ledger.
As New York moves toward legalizing gay marriage, former Giants Super Bowl heroes are at odds. Michael Strahan last week offered support for it, and that apparently moved David Tyree to come out quite strongly against it. Tyree says legalizing gay marriage would push our country "toward anarchy."
For Giants fans, this feature will make you forget about the fourth quarter against the Eagles for a few minutes this afternoon. Tyree calls it a "moment of destiny." Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who tried to break up the pass, said his team never prepared for Tyree because he was "a special teams player."
"At the end of the day I am a Giant," said Tyree. "My greatest moments have been here, my greatest memories are here. That is why I am here today. It is very likely I could shut it down and I won't have any qualms about it. Like I said two years ago, I had to be happy [if it was over]. It's been a crazy ride."
Tyree would obviously love to continue playing, but it doesn't sound like he has any regrets. And if he needs a job in the future, I'm pretty sure the Giants can come up with something.
The ’86 team was dominant enough to destroy teams in the playoffs. In the divisional game and the NFC title game, the Giants’ defense gave up a combined three points. The ’90 and ’07 Super Bowl teams were special in their own rights, but I believe the ’86 team was among the best in league history.
It was during the ’86 season that the world took notice of Bill Parcells’ Gatorade baths, which were started as a prank by Jim Burt. And after overhearing some of Burt’s stories during a Cowboys training camp a few years ago, that’s probably not the only prank he pulled.
I would’ve really enjoyed watching the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys teams of the ‘90s play against Parcells’ Giants teams. They both had the same foundation: A group of relentless pass-rushers who made it almost impossible for opposing quarterbacks to find any rhythm. A lot of folks in the Giants’ organization think the fact that Parcells won a Super Bowl with Hostetler playing a large role suggests how strong his supporting cast was. And while I appreciate that argument, I’d still take the ’86 Giants.
Most impressive win: This Giants team reeled off 12 consecutive wins, but the most impressive was against the Redskins in the playoffs. Joe Gibbs had an excellent team, but the Giants beat the Skins twice in the regular season and then shut them out 17 -0 in the playoffs. I loved watching Morris in the playoffs. He didn’t have a lot of size, but he kept his legs churning at all times and was a vital part of the ’86 Super Bowl team. I think Parcells still feels guilty that he later ran Morris into the ground.
Best player: Lots of great players on this team, but Taylor, the Hall of Fame linebacker, wins in a rout. The MVP and Defensive Player of the Year had 20.5 sacks in 1986, the fifth-highest total of all time.
1990: Simms was injured, but the Giants weren’t going to be denied in the playoffs. It was a remarkable season and at that point we thought Parcells would have several more Lombardi trophies in him.
2007: The David Tyree catch never gets old. It was a case of a team catching fire at the right time. But unlike some pundits, I’ve never used that to take away from what that team accomplished. Now we know how special that pass rush was after watching things disintegrate last season.
2000: Wait, did that team really play in the Super Bowl? Hey, it was an excellent team. But nowhere close to as dominant as the ones I ranked ahead of it.
"I’m not one of those guys looking to come in Week 5,” Tyree said of his future in the league. “We have had talks [with other teams] but nothing has come through. I am not really hung up on it at this point in my career. It has been a tremendous ride if it is over. I am here today to see the faces that mean a lot to me, that’s all."
The 30-year-old Tyree was recently released by the Ravens after playing mostly special teams the past season. He wore No. 17 in honor of his imprisoned friend and former teammate, Plaxico Burress.
"I miss my friend Plaxico,” Tyree told reporters Friday. “I am an example of somebody that could have been right there with him. It obviously boils down to the choices that we make. I wanted the world to know it was an honor to be back on the field and an honor to let the world know that I love him and grateful for the opportunity that we have all been given and we just got to cherish."
Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com reports that defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were not present for the club's final OTA session. Both players are expected to attend next week's mandatory minicamp. Linebacker Michael Boley sat out practice with a hamstring issue and safety Kenny Phillips (knee) continues to work out on the side. It will be very interesting to see if Phillips is ready for the start of training camp.
Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger reported that Hakeem Nicks participated in team drills Thursday and that his toe is healing nicely. OK, back with a report from Cowboys minicamp in a bit.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Super Bowl XLII hero David Tyree has been released by the New York Giants. The move shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Tyree didn't play at all in 2008 because of a leg injury and he got passed up by younger, faster wide receivers in this year's training camp.
I think the Giants gave Tyree every opportunity in the world to make this team, but the former sixth-round pick Tyree would've been too much of a luxury roster spot. The club obviously thinks they have younger players who can make up for what Tyree brought on special teams. And don't forget that he was a Pro Bowl player on special teams before he made that famous catch against his helmet.
If you look at the Newark Star-Ledger's report, it looks like Sinorice Moss and Derek Hagan will both make the 53-man roster. That means the Giants are keeping seven wide receivers. That's a pretty large number. I'd be surprised if the Cowboys kept more than five. And there's no way the Eagles keep more than six. Same goes for the Redskins.
The official cuts are due in a little more than an hour. We'll keep you posted.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
I'm stepping away for a couple of hours to bang out a Cowboys column, but here are some headlines you may want to check out:
- Phil Sheridan of the Inquirer thinks the Eagles should consider moving Kevin Kolb instead of A.J. Feeley.
- Cris Collinsworth has his doubts about all the "rosy" Donovan McNabb-Michael Vick talk.
- Marcus Hayes of the Daily News says that Kevin Kolb is trying to remain focused.
- Reuben Frank of the Burlington County Times says the Eagles have a different "problem" at wide receiver this season.
- John Smallwood of the Daily News has come up with some reasons to watch tonight's preseason finale.
- Sinorice Moss isn't getting any answers regarding his lack of playing time. Anyone think the Giants could get something for Moss in a trade?
- Mike Garafolo is preparing to say goodbye to David Tyree and Moss.
- Eli Manning predicts Giants will be "the most prepared team in the NFL."
- Great headline on this Ryan O'Halloran story about the Skins' final cuts. Story's not so bad either.
- We have located the one Rock Cartwright apologist in the D.C. area.
- Are the Redskins bringing lawsuits against some of their loyal fans? Yes, says this Washington Post report. But before the newspaper went to press, the team delivered a pre-emptive news release taking a jab or two at the Post. The two sides appear to be going old school.
- Dan Steinberg of the Post has an interesting little story on Colt Brennan's decision to wear a visor on his face mask.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ALBANY, N.Y. -- It's too bad the Giants aren't playing a preseason game tonight. They desperately need to see some other uniforms. Coach Tom Coughlin had to separate two players Wednesday evening -- and they weren't even participating in a drill.
I've seen the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants during my ongoing NFC East training camp tour. Of those three teams, the Giants definitely seem to have the highest tempo in practice. In two practices Wednesday, the defense was dominant at times. Backup defensive end (he hates that phrase) Mathias Kiwanuka jolted Kevin Boothe so hard on one play that the 315-pound guard almost toppled over. Here's a look at some of the things that stood out to me Wednesday:
- Every time I looked up, a guy wearing No. 29 was knocking the ball away from a receiver or making an interception. That would be Stoney Woodson, a seventh-round pick out of South Carolina. The rookie doesn't seem to be overwhelmed at all in his first camp. And he's seizing the opportunity to have more reps with starters Aaron Ross and Corey Webster out with injuries. Mike Garafolo is driving the Woodson bandwagon, but I've decided to hop aboard.
- There's a lot more trash talking that goes on in Giants camp than the other two camps I've been in. The offense and defense really take things personally and it creates a highly competitive atmosphere. In Eagles camp, Asante Samuel was the one guy who was constantly running his mouth. Otherwise, it was fairly quiet. I know that Giants safety Michael Johnson got in someone's face Wednesday night. Still not sure what that was about. Practice ended with veteran offensive tackle Tutan Reyes wading into the middle of at least 25 defensive players and taunting them -- in a good-natured sort of way.
- Have I mentioned that rookie wide receiver Ramses Barden has taken this camp by storm? You can tell that Coughlin's trying to play it down, but Barden's been the most impressive receiver on the field -- by a wide margin. Am I getting carried away after watching two practices? Maybe, but some of my guys on the beat such as Tom Rock (Newsday) and Garafolo (Star-Ledger) say that Barden's been doing this the entire camp. Rock kept describing one play to me where Barden went up in the back of the end zone, twisted his body back around and snagged a ball with one hand. Maybe Hakeem Nicks will catch up to him at some point, but right now Barden has earned more playing time than the first-rounder. OK, I'm finished gushing.
- I don't know how Kevin Dockery can hold off Terrell Thomas for the nickel spot much longer. Dockery's a scrappy little guy who's making plenty of plays in camp, but Thomas is the smoother player. He doesn't rush anything, but when the ball's in the air, it's his. Everyone wants to talk about the reinforcements along the defensive line, but this team is stacked at cornerback.
- Since many of you have been asking about the other receivers, it looks like fourth-year player Domenik Hixon wants to nail down a starting job. He'll still drop the occasional slant because of a lack of concentration, but he's a true deep threat who's getting a lot better at beating jams. I should also tell you that Derek Hagan, a fourth-year player out of Arizona State, is quietly putting together a solid camp. He's not dropping the ball, and that's a big step for him. Steve Smith and Nicks need to get healthy and stay on the field. Nicks returned to practice Wednesday night. Smith remained on the sideline with a knee injury. Oh, and David Tyree doesn't look all that rusty to me. He's the veteran of this bunch. And Sinorice Moss catches everything thrown his way. I loved watching him come back on the ball on an Eli Manning bullet in the evening practice.
- The linebackers were going through a drill Wednesday evening where they lifted up a 30-pound sandbag and chucked it to the side.
- Coughlin just about lost it when an offensive lineman didn't finish a block during 9-on-7 drills. "Finish the block, finish the block," he shouted while adding a certain expletive for emphasis. What happened to the calmer Coughlin that I kept reading about two years ago?
- I think Kiwanuka's about to have the same type year Justin Tuck had in '07. He'll be the third man in the defensive end rotation, which means offensive lines will be worn down because of Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. I wouldn't be surprised if Kiwanuka finished with eight or nine sacks.
- Safeties coach Dave Merritt is asking the defensive backs to treat everything like a live ball. When there's an incompletion, he wants his safeties to race over and scoop it up.
"We have to learn how to pick up a fumble," he shouted to Woodson at one point Wednesday evening. "Hot ball, hot ball!"
- Dockery always seems to be in really good position, but he's still using the wrong hand at times when going after the ball.
- Linebacker Chase Blackburn had the play of the day when he jumped high into the air to snag a David Carr pass during team drills. Tuck was heard on the sideline shouting, "Who said white men can't jump?"
- For more information on Giants camp, I encourage you to read my Camp Confidential on Friday afternoon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ALBANY, N.Y. -- One of my favorite things to do in training camp is watch practice through a scout's eyes. I've watched college football with Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland before, and he's always noticing things that go way beyond whether a guy catches the ball or misses a block.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to stand next to Giants general manager Jerry Reese for about 30 minutes during the team's morning session. He watched intently to see how this year's rookies reacted to certain situations -- and he attempted to temper my enthusiasm for third-round pick Ramses Barden, who's on the verge of being named camp MVP -- by me.
Anyway, here are the highlights from my epic interview with Reese:
|AP Photo/Bill Kostroun|
|Giants general manager Jerry Reese is keeping a close eye on the rookies.|
Reese: He's big and he catches everything. He's a quick learner and he's gigantic. He's got a huge strike zone. He had the stigma of the small school, but so did [Kevin] Boss. If a guy doesn't jump off the screen at a small school, he can't play at this level. Barden jumped off the screen. And he didn't look out of place at the combine. And if you talk to him, he's very bright. We expect him to play right from the start.
MM: Do first-round guys like Hakeem Nicks not know how to pace themselves in practice? Is that why so many receivers get hurt in training camp? I remember it happened to Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas for the Redskins last season.
Reese: Yeah, especially your No. 1s. They think they have to be better than anyone else and they get overcooked. All he can do is take mental reps. But it's tough having guys like that out because quarterbacks have to get used to their body language. [A tremendous catch by Derek Hagan interrupts Reese's train of thought.]
MM: How's Steve Smith responding to becoming one of the "veterans" of the receiving corps?
Reese: He's very confident. He was almost NFL-ready when he came out of USC. He's not afraid of competition. People keep talking about how Smith and Domenik [Hixon] only combined for 50 catches or something, but they were only part-time players. You may end up doubling some of those numbers this season. And (Mario) Manningham and Sinorice Moss had good springs. We threw the ball to Moss 12 times last season and he had 12 catches. There were no drops, no missed assignments.
MM: How has David Tyree looked after the long layoff?
Reese: He's still coming off the injury, but he's back in a good position. He's a true gamer. You have to remember that he went to a Pro Bowl as a special teamer.
MM: Who's your No. 2 running back right now?
Reese: (Ahmad) Bradshaw's definitely our No. 2 right now. But the other two guys are nipping at his heels. We want to make guys earn their jobs. That's a heated position battle right there. Andre Brown is everything we thought he would be. He reminded us of Derrick Ward and we were giddy when he was there in the fourth.
MM: Is picking up the blitz one of the toughest things for rookie running backs?
Reese: Yeah, you can just look at a guy like Brandon Jacobs and know that. When he first got up here, he just wanted to run the ball. But one of my favorite things from the throw to Plaxico (Burress) to win the Super Bowl was when Jacobs slid over and blocked No. 37 (Rodney Harrison). No. 37 was getting ready to hit Eli in the earhole. That play never happens if Jacobs doesn't pick him up.
MM: Looking back, what was the biggest factor in you guys faltering down the stretch last season?
Reese: We were fine for three-quarters of the season and then we got banged up on the line and didn't have the firepower to get after the quarterback. (Fred) Robbins was playing with two broken hands, Tuck's foot and knee were banged up and (Mathias) Kiwanuka was fighting through things. We couldn't get Donovan McNabb on third-and-20 [in the Divisional playoff game]. There were a lot of turning points in that game, but that was a big one.
MM: Why do you think Chris Canty's a good fit here?
Reese: We liked his versatility. And we played against him twice a year and he gave us headaches. He and Tuck can go inside or outside.
MM: What's going on with Eli Manning's contract?
Reese: I told our guys here that the contract wasn't done. I didn't care what they wrote, but it's not done. No contract is easy to do, and nothing surprises me when it comes to personnel. Until you have a name on the dotted line, it's not done.
MM: Will you get it done before the start of the season?
Reese: I'm hopeful that will happen, yeah.
MM: I keep hearing people say that Kenny Phillips will have a breakout season. What sets him apart from other safeties in the league?
Reese: First of all, he's having a great camp. He's got some star qualities. There's just a calmness about him. It never looks like he's straining hard. Everything comes easy for him.
MM: Are you still hopeful that Michael Boley can be a productive player this season?
Reese: Yeah, he's outstanding in coverage. We think he can help us cover the running back in Philadelphia (Brian Westbrook), the tight end in Dallas (Jason Witten) and
the tight end for the Redskins (Chris Cooley).
MM: Did it give the team a lift when Antonio (Pierce) wasn't indicted in the Burress case?
Reese: It gave us a little lift. It was a weight off his shoulders. We're happy he's here. It feels like he has something to prove.
MM: Why'd you finally decide to cut your losses with Plaxico?
Reese: You don't want to get rid of a good player. But you have to see the big picture. You've got these other 52 guys. We tried to make it work, but teams have to change sometimes.
MM: What did you learn from last season?
Reese: Well, I learned a lot of things. We got hit right out of the gate last year with a Hall of Famer retiring (Michael Strahan) and a Pro Bowler (Umenyiora) going down. We made it through three quarters of the season, but then we got worn down. I'll try not to let that happen again. We have to sustain the madness up front.
Reese: Bomar looks like a rookie playing quarterback. But he's got good velocity on the ball. That will be a heated battle in the preseason. Bomar's just trying to figure everything out. Woodson's ahead of the curve because he's been around here. Both of them have good skill sets.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs reported for duty Sunday, and he said he's enjoyed listening to all the doubters. I'm not really one of those doubters, but I guess those folks are out there. Here's what he had to say about the Giants' mindset heading into this camp, which could be the last one in Albany.
"I like that people are counting us out again this year -- because we don't have Plaxico [Burress]. They're saying that the young receivers can't pan out and our veteran receivers can't get it done. Plax was a special talent and it's hard to find someone like him, but we have a lot of guys here that can play and do well enough to get the job done."
Unless you're counting David Tyree or Steve Smith, the Giants don't really have any veteran receivers of consequence. Domenik Hixon's been in the league for a little bit, but he's still pretty raw. But anyway, it looks like the Giants will have a chip on their shoulder in '09 -- and that's a good thing for them. Here's what Jacobs said about the disappointment from last season.
"We come in here this year a team that should have been Super Bowl champions that didn't get it done and we are a bit angrier than we were last year. We've got a tough job ahead of us and a tough 16 games that we've got to get through. Hopefully things pan out for us."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- A couple of Cowboys players went out of their way to help a local fan whose memorabilia had been stolen.
- Here's another story on the Cowboys' heavy-metal band Free Reign.
- Tiger Woods and Tony Romo are teeing it up together Wednesday in a Pro-Am.
- Here's more on the LeSean McCoy signing that we discussed this morning.
- Former Playboy playmate Kendra Wilkinson makes Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett an honest man.
- It looks like Brian Mitchell could land on his feet -- in Eagles country.
- The Giants signed third-round pick Travis Beckum on Monday.
- David Tyree appears to be having a fun summer.
- Paul Schwartz of the Post talks about the Plaxico Burress situation.
- You can take your Giants Stadium seats home with you -- after the season.
- Dan Steinberg has more on the Brian Mitchell story.
- Renaldo Wynn prepares for life after football.
- Tiger Woods talked about Tony Romo during his news conference at Congressional Country Club.
|There are many memorable moments from the last 10 years to savor.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
This decade has brought us some amazing moments in the NFL, many of which have been captured during ESPN.com's all-decade week. And if something remarkable happens in '09 (such as the Lions making the playoffs), we reserve the right to amend some of our results.
So far, you've read about the all-decade defensive and offensive teams for the years beginning with 2000 and ending with the '08 season. I spent a good portion of the NFL owners' meeting and my subsequent vacation trying to identify some of the most memorable characters and moments from the decade.
After consulting with coaches, scouts, media guides and fellow bloggers, I've compiled a list of things that stood out over a nine-year period. Please act responsibly as we continue to celebrate ESPN.com's all-decade week -- otherwise known as a blogger's summer oasis.
|John David Mercer/US PRESSWIRE|
|David Tyree's 32-yard circus catch kept the Giants' game-winning drive alive in Super Bowl XLII.|
Play of the decade: In Super Bowl XLII, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning appeared to be going down for a sack late in the fourth quarter when he somehow escaped and hurled the ball in the general direction of reserve wide receiver David Tyree. Even with Rodney Harrison ripping at him, Tyree somehow trapped the ball against his helmet and came down with it. It was one of the greatest plays in league history -- and it gave Tyree the basis for his first book. There were a lot of memorable plays in the decade, but nothing could match the Manning-to-Tyree special.
Personnel man of the decade: Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian is ranked pretty high, but everyone you talk to across the league mentions Scott Pioli first. Now the GM for the Kansas City Chiefs, Pioli joined Bill Belichick in building the team of the decade, the New England Patriots. According to one longtime scout, "No one in the league does a better job of scouting their own team, and Pioli was orchestrating all of that."
The Patriots have had the magic touch when it comes to reclamation projects such as Corey Dillon and Randy Moss. But much like the Baltimore Ravens, they always seem to know when it's time to say goodbye to a player. Pioli has a keen eye when it comes to projecting players in Belichick's defense. Now we'll see what he can do with the Chiefs.
Scandal of the decade: Let's stay with the Patriots on this one. The Michael Vick dogfighting story was stunning, but Spygate was bigger because it threatened the integrity of the league. There were so many different layers to the story and it cast doubt on a head coach and his team's remarkable run. Belichick is still regarded as the mad genius in New England, but his violation of league rules will have a lasting impact on his legacy -- unless you're a Patriots fan.
|Matt Campbell/AFP/Getty Images|
|Tom Brady's apparent fumble was overturned and the Patriots beat the Raiders 16-13 in overtime.|
Most memorable off
iciating call: We know what San Diego Chargers fans are thinking, but when thinking back over the decade, the "tuck rule game" has to be the signature call. It was Jan. 19, 2002, and it appeared Oakland Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson had just sealed a trip to the AFC title game by sacking Tom Brady and knocking the ball loose. Instead, Brady's fumble was overturned because of the little-known "tuck rule," which was quietly enacted in 1999. The rule still doesn't make a lot of sense. But it helped launch the Patriots' dynasty. Anyone remember New England's starting wide receivers in the game? That's right, David Patten and Troy Brown.
Best owner: Sort of hard not to give it to Patriots owner Bob Kraft, but let's give a lifetime achievement award to Pittsburgh Steelers co-owner Dan Rooney. After all these years, he's still perhaps the most respected voice in the room. But Kraft wins the all-decade award. He brought a fan's perspective to ownership, and that's what breathed life into the franchise. And he gave Belichick another head-coaching opportunity after a failed stint with the Cleveland Browns.
Best NFL commercial: Since Peyton Manning starred in 82.7 percent of all NFL commercials, it's hard to pass him over. His work for MasterCard stands above the rest. The one where he's doing some yoga with Brian Urlacher and Michael Strahan has stood the test of time -- at least in our minds.
Most prolific locks: The faux-hawk tried to make a comeback, but Troy Polamalu may be the most identifiable player in uniform because of his unwieldy look. Polamalu achieved it by not getting his hair cut this decade.
Funniest player: The NFL doesn't really have an answer to Charles Barkley, although Clinton Portis had a nice run a few years ago when he came up with several alter egos. Let's give it to one of Portis' teammates, tight end Chris Cooley. Occasionally he crosses the line (accidentally publishing a picture of his manhood on The Cooley Zone blog), but he's consistently funny. Still love that he walked out to midfield a couple of years ago and introduced himself to the opposing captains as "Captain Chaos." There's not enough of that type stuff going around.
Best touchdown celebration: Terrell Owens and Moss had their moments, but Chad Ochocinco is by far the best. He has played golf with the pylon (no longer allowed) and he has donned a replica Hall of Fame coat after a touchdown on "Monday Night Football."
|AP Photo/David Kohl|
|Chad Ochocinco had a number of the most memorable touchdown celebrations in the last 10 years.|
Best first-down celebration: No one celebrates a new set of downs like Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams. He takes the ball and delivers an emphatic first-down signal. It's not as good as Ed Hochuli's "Guns of Navarone" approach, but Williams doesn't hold anything back.
The most troubled player award: Adam "Pacman" Jones became the poster child for Roger Goodell's tough stance on player (mis)conduct. Pacman is an "Outside the Lines" report waiting to happen.
Most feared player: Until the horse-collar rule put him out of business, former Cowboys safety Roy Williams was well on his way to winning this title. But his descent into mediocrity was steep. Rodney Harrison of the Patriots wins the award. He was regarded as a dirty player by some, but his presence definitely made receivers think twice about going across the middle. John Lynch was a feared player early in the decade, but Harrison eventually surpassed him. James Harrison is closing fast as we prepare to close the books on the decade.
Best assistant coach: It's a tie between two elder statesmen, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. We're all pulling for Johnson as he battles cancer. He's been remarkably consistent over the years and I put him and LeBeau just barely ahead of former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.