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Butler, Shockey are hot topics

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The Giants made assistant coaches available to the media Tuesday. Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger came away with a couple of interesting tidbits. Here they are.

We have spent lots of time trashing safety James Butler here at Big Blue View. Well, yesterday safeties coach Dave Merritt made an impassioned defense of Bulter.

"You take just the Super Bowl itself and look at that kid's production in that game alone - the biggest game of his career, the biggest game of my coaching career - he played his butt off," Merritt said while pausing between each of those last five words to emphasize his point. "If you just go back and evaluate him - not from the TV copy - if you go back and evaluate the film we have here in Giants Stadium, you'll see James Butler made tons of plays."

Merritt can say what he wants -- you would expect him to back his player. I still see Butler as a weak link in the Giants' secondary.

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Tight ends coach Mike Pope was, of course, asked about Jeremy Shockey. Here is some of Garafolo's report .

"I don't think he's any different than other players. Once the team gets back together and they get involved together, those things - whatever they have been - tend to become less of a factor and they eventually disappear," Pope said. "You start playing together, you start winning and the upside of the game is what you're looking at, then things usually run fairly smoothly."

As for the rumblings his teammates don't want Shockey around, Pope quickly dismissed them by saying, "I haven't spoken to anyone who hasn't texted him or talked to him. He's very close to several of our players. ... These guys are all about winning and if players are here that can help us win, they're usually favorably looked on."

And then of course there are the suggestions Eli Manning was better in the postseason because Shockey wasn't around. Not so, said Pope.

"That's demeaning to both players. To think that one player has to be out of the picture before another player can surface, that's ludicrous," Pope said. "Eli Manning has been on a constant scale of improvement; that's very obvious. ... (Manning's improvement) wasn't (the result of) the absence of anybody; it was the ascension of some other players. You'd have to be pretty narrow-minded to look at things that way. This was not a situation wher the vice president becomes president because something bad happened to the president."

It's pretty obvious at this point that Shockey will be a Giant this season. How happy he is about that will be a season-long theme, I suspect.