It's getting close now. Training camp begins Friday in Albany for the DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPION New York Giants.
So, the title defense is about to begin for real, and there was plenty of season preview material floating around the Inter-Google over the weekend. Let's cover some of the highlights.
The biggest question as we enter the season is how the Giants will handle being defending champion. From what they are saying, the Giants seem to understand that they still have a lot to prove.
"You do it once and people can call it a fluke, but if you do it twice, they start to really respect you and understand your talent," Giants center Shaun O'Hara said.
Other Giants have heard the naysayers, too.
"We still feel a little bit of a sense of people saying that the Patriots lost," defensive tackle Barry Cofield said in the team hotel the morning after the miracle. "We still feel like a poor man's champ."
Nearly six months later, the Giants don't seem to feel any richer, and they've yet to discover a wealth of national respect. They've already heard predictions that they won't even win their division this season, and they've seen the power rankings that have them somewhere below the upper echelon of the league.
"I'm not surprised," said running back Brandon Jacobs. "But if we haven't shut up a lot of doubters yet, we can still shut them up next year."
AS IS PREDICTED HERE, I suspect we will read over and over again in the coming weeks that the Dallas Cowboys, and not the Giants, are the team to beat in the NFC.
Gary Myers of the New York Daily News knows the Cowboys, with their roster full of Pro Bowl caliber talent, are a threat to the Giants. He also looks at who else has a shot at knocking New York off its throne.
Newsday's Bob Glauber understands the road ahead for the Giants, but is unwilling to write them off.
Repeating as Super Bowl champs is one of the toughest feats in sports; it has been done just eight times before. The Giants do look good on paper, even with the retirement of Michael Strahan, although they'll have some new faces defensively. It is awfully tough to repeat in this league, and the Cowboys and Eagles remain viable threats. But I will not write off the Giants until I see definitive proof that they've taken a step back from last season. Barring key injuries, this is a serious Super Bowl contender.
SPEAKING OF STRAHAN, the retired star and now FOX analyst sat down with Steve Serby of the New York Post for a Q&A.
Here are a couple of the highlights.
On the Giants' chances to repeat.
Yeah, I mean anything's possible. It's all about your focus and your commitment to doing what's best for the team, and not as an individual.
On Jeremy Shockey.
He's a great teammate. There's not a guy in that locker room who would say, "I don't like Jeremy Shockey. He's a jerk." If you want to learn how to work hard, if you want to learn how to be intense, if you want to learn to believe that you're the best and work for it, if you want to learn how to always require and demand the best out of yourself, you watch Jeremy Shockey.
On where Mathias Kiwanuka should play.
I think he's a natural end. I think he picked up linebacker pretty well for a guy who never played it in his life, but I think you can find guys who can play linebacker who always play linebacker. Kiwanuka is a natural, explosive defensive end. (Justin) Tuck is a hybrid, and I think Tuck is probably better served rushing from the inside. They can't stop him on the inside, whereas on the outside, he's not as natural as Kiwanuka is. I think that would just be a much better setup.
I don't know about you guys, but I'm fired up. Let's get started already.