New York Giants Notes: Goodell, Smith Traveling Together

As more talks were underway Tuesday toward a new collective bargaining agreement, there was no more positive a sign that things are headed in the right direction than the fact that commissioner Roger Goodell and players' union chief DeMaurice Smith were on the same plane headed to a rookie symposium to speak on Wednesday......

Goodell, Smith fly to Florida to talk with rookies - NFL - Yahoo! Sports
The day began with the NFL commissioner and the players’ association head starting another round of talks, this one set to run through Friday, aimed at ending a lockout that is now in its fourth month. By sundown Tuesday, Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith were on a plane to Florida where they planned to speak to rookies Wednesday before heading back to Minneapolis to continue negotiations. A signal that an end to the labor strife was in sight, perhaps even before the Fourth of July? That was still to be determined, but with the traditional start of training camps just three weeks away, every move has taken on a heightened sense of importance.

Of course, we have no real information on Tuesday's talks, but there is no doubt that Goodell and Smith traveling together on the same plane to talk to rookies is a very good sign, especially after a full day of private meeting between the two. It's symbolic and encouraging, and even more so knowing that as soon as the duo is done speaking, they will head right back to Minneapolis for more negotiations. This is how it is in a make-it-happen stage of NFL labor talks as time ticks away.

And speaking of the lockout, one Giants player cannot wait to break free from changing diapers to training for the 2011 season.....

Itch to switch - San Bernardino County Sun
The lockout of the players by the NFL owners, at 109 days and counting, has allowed [Terrell] Thomas to exert more time toward non-football activities, like caring for his 14-month-old daughter, Tatum, catching up with family in the Inland Valley and devoting his time to youth football camps. But with the usual starting date of training camps less than a month away, the football itch is starting to take hold of Thomas, who can't wait to start his fourth season with the Giants.

I'm quite sure most of the Giants and most NFL players feel the same way, despite how grueling training camp can be.

Many NFL teams staying with training camp sites for now - USATODAY.com
New York Giants vice president of communications Pat Hanlon said Tuesday that the team remains hopeful of returning to the University of Albany (N.Y.) and hasn't set a drop-dead date. "If it gets to the point where it's impractical to go there," he said, "then we have facilities and resources to hold one at Timex Performance Center (in East Rutherford, N.J.). Fortunately, we have people with an outstanding ability to adapt."

This isn't something we didn't already know, but I'm sure that seeing it come from the horse's mouth -- a.k.a. Giants' VP Hanlon -- that Albany is still a strong possibility, has to make our own Ed Valentine feel good.

Eli Manning's lockout workouts continue at Duke University | NJ.com
After training at Hoboken High School and Bergen Catholic in Oradell, Manning spent three days last week with Hakeem Nicks and rookie Jerrel Jernigan in Durham, N.C. David Cutcliffe, Manning's coach at Ole Miss, now coaches at Duke.

Manning sure is trying to keep his skills sharp, isn't he? Or is he, like Thomas, ready to stop changing diapers and ready to officially resume his football career?

Ed posted a great piece on Tuesday about which free agents the Giants should keep or set free. Here is another great article about the Top 50 free agents. As you might expect--Ahmad Bradshaw, Barry Cofield and Steve Smith are on the list. As Ed suggested, there is no way the Giants let Smith walk. Manning might want to fight GM Jerry Reese if that happened. Oh, and speaking of Smith, he still keeps active on his Facebook page, and he gave a shout-out Sunday to end the lockout as the heat of July looms. Amen, Steve. Amen.

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