When he wasn't telling stories about his battles with Siri and his distrust of the "lady on the GPS" New York Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin did address some pressing issues Wednesday during a breakfast chat with reporters at the NFL owners' meetings. Among them were his concerns about the safety position and an update on the status of rehabbing wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Safety position 'an issue'
The Giants currently have only Nat Berhe, Cooper Taylor and Thomas Gordon at the position and Coughlin admitted his concern.
"That's an issue, no doubt," Coughlin said. "We do have one more access to bringing in personnel with the draft. We have a couple of guys in the program - Berhe, who we liked as a rookie as a special teamer. We have injured players coming back who hopefully can help, but it's a concern."
Coughlin mentioned Chykie Brown and Bennett Jackson as cornerbacks who could potentially get a look at safety.
When Cruz will return is uncertain
Coughlin said that Cruz is running and "coming along well," but said he had no timetable for when Cruz would return to practice or game action.
"I think he will be back to the player that he was and hopefully better," Coughlin said. "Victor looks really good, he's starting to run, I was in the field house watching him rehab, he's coming along well."
"I don't know (when he will return). I shouldn't say this, because medically I really do not have a definite answer, but by training camp, hopefully. He will work his way through."
How free-agent signees fit in
Coughlin and the Giants appear to be trying to reach into their past and re-create some things they used to have. That's the case with the re-hiring of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and also, apparently with wide receiver/kick returner Dwayne Harris.
"Remember how we used to use (David) Tyree?" Coughlin said. "He would come in and be a blocker. That's what Harris does. You see him on the field and you start thinking that way. And that part alone opens a lot of possibilities. Maybe you get back into the old fake, ghost screen stuff. So it just opens a lot of things up. Whether he becomes the third or fourth receiver or a special situation kind of player offensively, he wants to contribute on offense and he will be given that opportunity."
Coughlin said Harris' presence doesn't mean Odell Beckham Jr. won't occasionally return punts.
"Even when you put Odell in that positon, you have to have others," Coughlin said. "Rueben (Randle) is a sure-handed guy who can play that spot. So Odell will still have to be available. Harris can't take every one. We would like him to, but the idea is that you have a guy with that ability to kick return, punt return, cover kicks, gunner and who is consistent. It has been a while since we have had that."
On running back Shane Vereen ...
"As a pass receiver coming out of the backfield, pass-protector, a guy who runs the ball in the three wide offense, the defensive run game if you will," Coughlin said. "A lot of the (Tom) Brady hook up with Vereen, the ball was almost automatically going to him. You know there would be certain first downs, if there was zone coverage, they would drop the ball off and he would scoot. So, we know that. Will we open it up to other parts of it? Well, we would like to make sure he can. He does very well at that spot.
On linebackers J.T. Thomas III and Jonathan Casillas ...
"They will make contributions in both ways," Coughlin said. "Thomas played very well against us (for Jacksonville last Nov. 30). Quite frankly, there is no better info as you get ready looking into free agency than people that have done well against you.
"Both will get plenty of opportunities. There is just more information about Thomas in normal down and distance situations than there is on Casillas. But we know they are both special."
On ex-Jet Kenrick Ellis and Dominique Hamilton, who was signed to a reserve/futures contract off the practice squad ...
"Ellis is a big human," Coughlin said. "The young man on our practice squad, Hamilton, is a big human, so I am looking forward to seeing what they can do, too ... We realized that big dominating guy in the middle is a good starting point for the D-line."
The return of Steve Spagnuolo
Coughlin hopes there won't be a repeat of the first two games of Spagnuolo's career with the Giants.
"There are going to be growing pains, without a doubt," Coughlin said. "I said with humor, but it wasn't very funny if you were there. Remember the first two games where we gave up a ton of points (80, in Spagnuolo's first season in 2007)? I said, ‘We don't have to start out that way, do we?' It's a whole different circumstance and a whole different situation. There are certain things that you know. You're going to get a guy who has tremendous energy, tremendous enthusiasm, very optimistic, very positive. Players love to work with him, you know all of that part. He's very accommodating, competitive. So you know what you are going to get."