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New York Giants' position battles: Tight ends

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Michael Matthews, a third-year player, seems to have a fight on his hands to keep his roster spot in 2009.

Our man Jim, heretofore referred to as 'Blueshirt,' started a look at some New York Giants' position battles earlier in the off-season. Since Blueshirt is buried in hockey drivel over at his New York Rangers' site these days I thought I would pick up where he left off with looks at a couple of interesting positions we have not yet touched upon.

I thought we would start with the crowded picture at tight end, where the Giants appear to have five legitimate candidates for three apparent spots.

Let's break 'em down.

Kevin Boss -- The incumbent and future starter, the Bossman is a mortal lock. I'm looking for big things from the 6-foot-6, 253-pound third-year player in 2009. He caught 33 balls in 2008, his first year as a starter. I know Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride are very traditional in their thinking about the tight end spot -- they don't really like to feature it in the passing game. Boss, though, has terrific hands, size, strength and good speed for a tight end. Taken full advantage of, he should be able to double those 33 receptions in 2009.

Travis Beckum -- The third-round pick from Wisconsin is the other lock to make the roster. At 6-3, 239 Beckum is considered an excellent receiver but a poor blocker. The Giants are likely to try and find ways to utlize him as an H-Back type to create matchup problems. My guess is Beckum's primary competition for playing time comes from whoever the Giants wind up using as their fourth or fifth wide receiver. As a rookie, can he make himself more valuable to the passing game than those extra wide receivers?

Michael Matthews -- Entering his third year, Matthews has been the Giants' blocking tight end the past two seasons. That's a good thing, too, since he has hands of stone and has caught just eight balls in two years. He has probably also dropped that many. The Giants will likely keep three tight ends, and Matthews' primary edge in keeping his roster spot is that he can also fill in at fullback when necessary.

Darcy Johnson -- The Giants have always liked the 6-5, 267-pounder's potential. In three seasons, though, he has little to show for it. His four catches last season were the only ones of his career. He's a decent blocker, but not as good as Matthews. He's a decent receiver, but not nearly as good as Boss, and probably Beckum. I don't see how he makes the team unless there is an injury to one of those two players.

Lee Vickers -- Signed as a free agent in March, the 6-6, 275-pound Vickers likely provides competition for Matthews as the blocking tight end. He caught four balls for the Ravens in 2007, and did not play last season after being waived in training camp by Pittsburgh. If the former collegiate defensive end shows the ability to catch the ball, he might have a shot at ousting Matthews.