Our New York Giants start mini-camp today, and except for Antonio Pierce's constant Twittering, all is quiet.
Coach Tom Coughlin is, of course, thrilled by that. And by that, we mean the quiet. Not the Twittering.
It appears there won't be any distractions. Just a bunch of players practicing and fighting for jobs.
"If this is a year in which we're not going to have any of that," Coughlin said the other day of the sideshows, "then terrific."
So what does Coughlin hope to accomplish during the mandatory three-day, five-practice camp that will wrap up the team's off-season program?
"It's a continuation of where we are -- trying to take those areas we need the most work, and having already introduced it, now come back to these people for a second time and let's see how the young guys respond with that information in front of them," Coughlin said. "It will be a culmination of what we have done this spring. It will be under a magnified glass because the practices are rapid-fire and the camp is over before it even starts."
Coughlin said the veterans who have been around for a few years and were a part of the Super Bowl XLII run understand what the coach wants. The rookies -- some of whom will be asked to contribute this season -- must get a grasp of those expectations during the next few days, the coach said.
Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News also discusses the quiet -- and looks back at just how different things are from a year ago. He mentions Plaxico Burress, Jeremy Shockey, Michael Strahan's retirement, Ahmad Bradshaw's incarceration and a host of contract issues.
There can't be much doubt that the Giants are in a much better place right now.
- We spent Monday debating which defensive end is better -- Osi Umenyiora or Justin Tuck. In our poll, which is still ongoing, you guys appear to be supporting my position that Tuck is the man. Anyway, interesting that Monday I came across a Q&A that Umenyiora did with The Sporting News. Here is the money quote.
Q: When the season starts, do you plan to pick right up where you left off?A: I would hope so. You never can tell what is going to happen, but I still feel like I am one of the best, if not the best, defensive end in football. I feel quick. I feel explosive, and I don't feel like I should be stopped one-on-one. As long as everybody else is doing what they are supposed to do, which I anticipate them doing, I am going to get a couple of opportunities (to get sacks) and I am going to win those opportunities. I feel I am right where I need to be.
- I know you guys are tired of hearing about the Giants' supposed weakness at wide receiver, and debating whether or not GM Jerry Reese did the right thing by using the draft instead of trades to bolster the position. When it comes to the Giants, though, the national media can seemingly talk about nothing else. The latest examples are in Yahoo Sports! own 'Shutdown Corner,' and over at ESPN. Like it or not, wide receiver play will be a topic all season long.
- ESPN's John Clayton sided with Philip Rivers recently when asked whether he would take Eli Manning or the San Diego quarterback to lead his team. Here is his reasoning.
I'd slightly favor Rivers because of his leadership and his flair for playing well in late-season games. The edge is small, though. Manning got hot at the end of the 2007 season, and he won a Super Bowl. Both quarterbacks have faced adversity, and I think Rivers has a slightly better track record in dealing with it. Rivers advanced to an AFC title game with a torn ACL that needed postseason reconstructive surgery. He's won playoff games even though his two favorite weapons -- LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates -- were far less than 100 percent for two playoff seasons. Manning wasn't the same quarterback at the end of last season without Plaxico Burress.
- Lots of stuff to argue about lately, even if it is June, and now The Fifth Down has given us another one. The New York Times' football blog is insisting that the Giants don't have the league's best offensive line, and awards that honor to the other team in Giants Stadium.
- By the way, if you just have to have up-to-the-minute mini-camp reports, you can follow Mike Garafolo or Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter.