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Late-season collapse has Coughlin ready for camp
Question of the Day
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Tom Coughlin has been ready to start training camp with the New York Giants for about eight months.
Listening to his voice in a telephone interview Thursday, one could sense his anticipation, readiness and desire to get going again, as well as the tinge of anger and frustration left over from last season.
What Giants player or fan can forget 2009? The team won its first five games, then lost eight of the final 11, including the last two in which the players basically quit.
That's the past and Coughlin is ready to start anew when the Giants report to training camp at the University at Albany on Sunday.
"Let's go. Let's do it," Coughlin said. "I am excited this year as much as I have ever been excited, I'll tell you that right now," Coughlin said. "I am looking forward to it and have been since the end of the season last year.
"There is nothing to be said," Coughlin added about last season. "All you can do is plan and be ready to go on the field as soon as they let and try to do something about it."
The Giants have made several changes since the end of last season.
Former Buffalo interim coach Perry Fewell has replaced Bill Sheridan as the coordinator of a defense that gave up 427 points last season.
The safety position was strengthened with the free-agent signings of Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. Former Tennessee Titan Keith Bulluck was signed to replaced the now-retired Antonio Pierce at middle linebacker.
There also is the hope that safety Kenny Hill can return from major knee surgery and that defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Jay Alford can return from injuries that either sidelined them or limited their effectiveness last season.
While Eli Manning and the Giants showed they could score last season, their once-vaunted running game was not as effective, a fact that left the defense on the field way too much.
Coughlin wants his offense to grind things out again and control the clock.
Special teams also has a big question mark with the retirement of punter Jeff Feagles. Rookie Matt Dodge, a seventh-round draft pick, has the job to lose.
"Let me tell you this, the only reason we do this is to win and to be in position to compete for the championship," Coughlin said. "That's the only thing we are in this for. Every thought we have is geared toward that.
"We feel we have the makings of a very good football team," said the 63-year-old who led the Giants to a Super Bowl championship in February 2008. "We like the position that we are in. We are motivated, but we have to go on the field and fight our way through it and prove it."
Coughlin said that Phillips probably would sit out the first week of training camp, while Umenyiora (hip) and Bulluck (knee) would only practice once a day to start.
Bulluck is coming off major surgery on his left knee and needs to improve his conditioning, strength and to add some weight.
"He is a veteran player who is very smart, a no-nonsense guy who is a physical player," Coughlin said. "He fits a nice piece of the puzzle for our team."
Defensively, Coughlin hopes that Fewell can restore the aggressiveness that the unit exhibited in 2007 and '08. He also wants some of his veterans to take bigger leadership roles with the departure of Pierce.
While there have been rumors that the team is trying to find second-year pro Will Beatty a job on the offensive line, Coughlin said that David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie will come to camp as the No. 1 unit.
However, the coach wants to see the line produce more on the ground, while noting the defense has to be much better against the run.
"This is how we play and we need to play the game the way we are designed to play," he said.
Coughlin said that third-round draft pick Chad Jones, who was seriously injured in an automobile accident in late June in New Orleans and needs more surgery, will miss the season.
"It's really hurts not to have Chad," Coughlin said. "The important thing is that he regain his total health. He's not going to be far from our thoughts in training camp."
The Giants waived Jones on Thursday. If he clears waivers, the Giants will place him on the reserve-non-football injury.
New York also was awarded defensive end Alex Hall on waivers from Philadelphia.
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