Giants Camp is Dull, Just the Way They Like It

Coughlin and company have created controversy-free zone

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The most exciting thing that happened at New York Giants minicamp Wednesday was a press conference to announce Timex as the naming-rights sponsor for the team's new training facility here -- the "Timex Performance Center." It's a beautiful complex, but unless you're the ones pocketing $35 million from the deal over the next 15 years, this wasn't exactly the stuff of big headlines.

That's fine with the Giants, who got their fill of headlines at last year's minicamp.

Coming off a Super Bowl championship, the Giants convened last year amid loud, obnoxious Jeremy Shockey and Plaxico Burress contract controversies. Neither of those players was on the team by year's end, but they were here a year ago, and they were making it noisy. This year ... not so much. And Tom Coughlin couldn't be happier about it.

"Very different," Coughlin said Tuesday. "We are coming off a huge disappointment on the part of everybody, and there is no presumption here. I think where the attitude is right now is that we know we have a lot of work to do, we know we can be a good football team and we know we have the opportunity to do something about that bad taste we have in our mouth from last year."

It's not as if there are no issues. There are injuries, of course, and they crinkle Coughlin's nose whenever anybody brings them up. Coughlin seems to view injuries the way the rest of us view bills -- they're going to happen, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it, but when you close your eyes at night and dream of your perfect world ... they're not in it, and nobody misses them.

Sinorice Moss is a Giants receiver who on Tuesday was a big story because of how great he'd looked in practice. The Giants are looking for a receiver, of course, to replace Burress, and Moss was emerging as a candidate. But he didn't practice Wednesday because he injured his hamstring. And Coughlin said he wouldn't practice Thursday either.

"Very frustrating," Moss said. "But I'm not looking at it as a missed opportunity. I take the good from what I did [earlier] this week, and I plan to work hard to return and build on that in training camp."

Healthy attitude, if not leg.

Coughlin also spoke of injuries to some of his young players, such as tackle Will Beatty, linebacker Clint Sintim and tight end Travis Beckum. These are all rookies, but they are expected to play crucial roles.

"We've been looking at a couple of young guys who've been out forever," Coughlin said. "Why they haven't been able to come back ..."

And he trailed off. Annoyed, clearly. But this is football stuff. Minicamp stuff. The kind of stuff over which a coach is supposed to stress out this time of year. Attendance for this camp has been perfect and nobody's griping about a contract or wanting to be traded.

"This is a group of guys that understands what's going on and are committed to being here to work," DE Justin Tuck said. "The harder we go after each other here in June, or in Albany in August, the better prepared we're going to be to go after the other teams once the season starts. And everybody in this locker room gets that. And that's a great thing to see."

There are questions, of course. Some with more encouraging answers than others. Hakeem Nicks is impressing everybody with his hands, his work ethic and the way he comports himself. A pro, but not an arrogant one. A rookie, but not a nervous one. The Giants' first-round pick deflects questions about being the receiver to replace Burress, but he could do it. If not right away, then soon.

There is the question of the running game, which lost Derrick Ward and will look to big Brandon Jacobs and speedy Ahmad Bradshaw to work harder as a result. Spoiled by that three-back system for the past couple of years, the Giants must now make do with two backs carrying the bulk of the load, unless a young guy like Andre Brown or Danny Ware can contribute right away.

"He was a big part of what we did here the past couple of years," Jacobs said of Ward. "But we've got enough talent in this room that we'll be fine."

There is plenty of confidence here, and a businesslike feel that gives you the sense of a team capable of big things. Most of all there is quiet and calm. It's these boring teams you have to watch out for -- the teams that have controversy-free camps. If there's nothing bubbling to the surface, it's probably because the team has it all together.

"There's a seriousness, but there's also a sense of wanting to do better -- of not being satisfied with the way last year ended," Coughlin said. "They're upset, and they want to work to make sure it doesn't happen again."

All in all, Coughlin is happy enough with his team that he decided to take them all out to a ballgame. Wednesday night, the entire roster, staff and guests (yes, Eli brought his brother) showed up at the Yankees-Nationals baseball game in the Bronx -- a party of more than 100 checking out the new ballpark on a cool June night.

If that had happened last year, would Plaxico have gone? Shockey?

Yeah, you get the idea. It's quiet and peaceful around the Giants right now. Just the way they like it.

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