(Long Island, N.Y.) There have been no HBO cameras following them around training camp and no need for washing the head coach’s mouth out with soap, but the Giants are taking all of that in with stride. While the Jets have been extremely conspicuous throughout the preseason with their starring roles on “Hard Knocks,” not much has been said about the Giants.
Perhaps it is also because the Jets reached the 2009 AFC Championship Game and the G-Men missed the playoffs after a 5-0 start. A mixed bag can be taken out of the preseason (2-2) so is Tom Coughlin happy where the team is heading into Sunday’s season opener against Carolina at the New Meadowlands?
“Well, we’re excited about having the opportunity to play,” the head coach said. “I don’t use that word (happy) very often. We are getting ready to play our first game and we have our starting group together.”
Part of that group includes Ahmad Bradshaw, who has unseated Brandon Jacobs as the number one running back. “That’s what I play this game for,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve worked hard these first three years. I feel like I deserve it, take pride in it and want to take advantage of it.”
After a rough preseason that included suffering a three-inch gash on his forehead, quarterback Eli Manning must be glad that the games that count are now here. “I look forward to the start of the season and Carolina,” the Ole Miss product said. “They’re a good team and we’ve met them these past couple years so it should be a great contest.”
A big part of the Giants’ demise a year ago was at the hand of their defense and that unit needs to be more consistent if the Giants are to return to the playoffs. Throughout the four exhibition games this summer, the team did not show their opponents everything in the defensive playbook but being on the same page does not appear to be a problem according to Perry Fewell.
“You probably say 10, maybe 20 percent in the preseason,” the defensive coordinator said. “How confident am I that our guys have our package down? I’m very confident. They had good retention.”
The NFC East may be a wide-open division this year, too, which bodes well for the Giants. The Dallas Cowboys have been the general consensus to finish in first place, but the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles are two teams in transition – one perhaps going up and the other down. Mike Shanahan has taken over in our nation’s capital and they traded for quarterback Donovan McNabb, who leaves Philly and hands off the ball to Kevin Kolb. Expect some growing pains there.
So with a lot of action going on around them, the Giants have been business-like as usual. And Coughlin didn’t have to deal with a former Super Bowl winning coach (Tony Dungy) or his own mother come down hard on him for cursing on cable television like Rex Ryan.