Umenyiora holdout, lack of stars highlight Giants camp
Whether it was Osi Umenyiora’s brief one-day holdout, Plaxico Burress choosing that “other New York tenant” or the shocking jettisoning of valuable veterans, Big Blue’s first-ever training camp at their East Rutherford facilities didn’t lack for juice.
Due to the new CBA, teams aren’t allowed to have recently signed players participate until Aug. 4. That means the Giants’ current starting units have been a mishmash of players who will likely not be starting.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said there’s no crying, because the other 31 teams are having the same problems.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes the better part of a week [to get some sort of jelling] because just think that six contracts are going to join us on Aug. 4 and we still are not at 90 players,” Coughlin said. “We have some positions where the numbers are not where they need to be for us to even have a quality practice, so we need to solve some of those issues going forward. But we fully expected and anticipated this, that it would be a scramble.”
Until Thursday arrives, the Giants’ starting offensive unit looks like this: QB Eli Manning, RB D.J. Ware, FB Henry Hynoski, TE Travis Beckum, WRs Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, RT Kareem McKenzie, RG Mitch Petrus, C Chris Snee, LG David Diehl, LT Will Beatty.
David Baas, who was brought over from the San Francisco 49ers, is one of the Aug. 4 casualties. The burly 6-foot-4, 330-pound Baas [pronounced BOSS], said he can’t wait to get out there and take over Shaun O’Hara’s old spot and begin building chemistry.
“It’s a short period [to adjust] and there were some changes and you respect the guys who were here, like Shaun and Rich [Seubert] but I’m excited to be here,” Baas said, adding he thinks his style fits in perfectly here. “I’m excited to get to know the guys and work with them. I think I’m hard-nosed and can pick up the playbook pretty fast. I’m a good fit here, yeah … and just ready to go out there, play football and win a championship.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck is also itching to get back to work and said he’s paid little attention to what’s going on in Philadelphia. He added the time off did veterans well and allowed each man to miss the game and really get that itch.
“In the football sense getting away from football was refreshing. Not just for your body but also your mind. It allowed me to do a lot of other things,” Tuck said. “There were a lot of things I got to do this offseason that I wouldn’t have been able to do if football was in session. That being said, I’m glad it’s back. I’m definitely glad that we now have the opportunity to go back to doing what we like doing.”
Some of the better notes and quotes from the first weekend of camp:
» DE Osi Umenyiora, who reportedly said he’s not going to talk to general manager Jerry Reese ever again, also hasn’t been talking to the media but he can be seen smiling on the sidelines while sitting out practices. But know Big Blue isn’t out of the woods from his drama yet. Said a source, “He wants to give this thing a chance to play out before he erupts…but it’s not over.”
» DE Justin Tuck said dramatics are nothing new for teams playing in the New York area: “I don’t think so [that Umenyiora’s situation is a distraction]. We’ve all seen worse, worse than this situation between Osi and the New York Giants. A couple years ago Michael Strahan was in a similar situation [but] he might’ve had a little bit more leverage being a future Hall-of-Famer … It’s a business and I think a lot of people get caught up in the loyalty to the game and things of that nature. We’re definitely loyal to the team but, in Osi’s situation, he feels as though he needs to do this. Who am I to say he’s wrong for doing it?”
» There’s an underlying feeling of contempt — well, more than usual — towards the Philadelphia Eagles. The way they’re stockpiling talent, led by the Nnamdi Asomugha signing, made backup QB Vince Young dub themselves the “Dream Team.” Well, many Giants are privately bristling at such boldness but would rather let their games do the talking.
WR Mario Manningham is certainly not going to fan the flames but did say the receiving core will bow down to no secondary. “I feel like we can match up with anybody. I am not about to say they have a three-headed monster or give them all the props in the world and they haven’t even played a game yet. They are good, they are athletes and they are in the NFL. We go out and do what we have to do and we will see when we play them.”
» Jerry Reese got quite testy with the media whenever he was asked about the dearth of notable names at linebacker: “I am tired of people saying the Giants don’t have the linebackers. The linebacker group should take that as a challenge. They should take that as a challenge from me that we have linebackers.”
Follow Tony Williams on Twitter for live updates from Giants training camp @TBone8.