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Boss will have competition

Now that the Giants will have a new tight end this season, let's look at the players who will be vying to replace Jeremy Shockey.

We know about Kevin Boss, the second-year player who took over last season when Shockey was hurt. He's a nice target for Eli Manning at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds with nice hands and should be able to provide a threat in the middle of the field.

Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger reminds us not to concede the starting job to Boss, though. Garafolo says watch out for Darcy Johnson.

Johnson is a guy to keep an eye on.

An undrafted free agent from Central Florida in 2006, Johnson spent most of that season on the practice squad before being signed to the roster late in the year. He added more bulk to his frame that year and worked hard on his blocking with TE coach Mike Pope, who knows how to make a guy a better blocker. Last season, with Visanthe Shiancoe gone to the Vikings, Johnson was primed to nail down the backup spot behind Shockey. And trust me, he would have had it if he hadn't suffered a torn ligament in his knee when he collided with S Michael Johnson two weeks into camp. After all, Boss was supposed to be a multi-year project.

Just think: If Johnson hadn't gotten hurt, it might have been him replacing Shockey late last year. It might have been him catching that big 45-yard seam against the Pats that changed SB XLII. And it might have been him we'd be talking about right now as Shockey's replacement.

Instead, as I watched TV and listened to the radio last night and this morning, I kept hearing about Boss, Boss, Boss. I expected that because a lot of the talking heads don't follow this team as closely as I and some of you do. That's why it's my job to step in and tell folks Johnson will be a major factor in replacing Shockey. Will he be a starter over Boss in Week 1? Maybe not. But will he see a good chunk of playing time or perhaps have a dual role? Right now, I'd say yes.

The third player in the equation is second-year player Michael Matthews. He caught only six passes last season and has questionable hands, but showed excellent blocking skills both as a tight end and occasionally lined up at fullback. Right now, you would have to think there is a role for Matthews on the team.

Also in camp are free agents Jerome Collins and Eric Butler. Collins is a Notre Dame grad, but that's really about all I know about either of those two guys.

Anyway, with Boss, Johnson and Matthews the Giants have three players with a variety of complementary skills. I think they will be fine.