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News » Giants receptive to young WRs, with no vet (yet)

Giants receptive to young WRs, with no vet (yet)

Giants receptive to young WRs, with no vet (yet)
"... I'm very confident with the guys and everybody we have that we can go out there and play at a high level."- Eli Manning

Eli Manning got three new targets in the first three rounds of this past weekend's draft in wide receivers Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden and tight end Travis Beckum.

None of them are No. 1 wideouts - at least not yet - which is precisely what Manning seemed to nudge the team to go out and get in a recent interview with ESPN. So was he surprised the team didn't make a trade for the Browns' Braylon Edwards or the Cardinals' Anquan Boldin?

"I didn't know what was going to happen. No, I'm not surprised," Manning said yesterday after participating in the Giants' offseason workouts. "You never know what to expect on draft day. You hear a lot of rumors and you never know what's true and what's false."

It's true the Giants had at least mild interest in Edwards. The reports a deal would be done by draft day were clearly false.

But the Jeremy Shockey rumors didn't die with draft day last year and neither will the Edwards rumblings. Manning likely realizes that's the case, which might explain his refusal to answer directly when asked if he believes the Giants should still pursue a veteran.

"Looking at the receivers we have right now, I'm very confident with the guys and everybody we have that we can go out there and play at a high level," he said, later adding: "You've got to trust your guys to get open and I trust our players. You know what their strengths are, you know what they do well.

"The more time we get to work with the guys we have here, the better they'll get, the better our timing will get. We've got some young guys who have played well, but the more experience they get, they'll all get better and we'll see how good we can be."

Since Manning was drafted in 2004, the Giants have had four rookie wide receivers on their roster: Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss and Jamaar Taylor, who retired after only two seasons because of a nagging knee problem.

Of the four players, only Smith made a significant contribution during his first NFL season - and that wasn't until late in the season and during the playoff run two years ago. Manningham and Moss both had significant injuries that cost them time during training camp and stifled their early development.

Manning pointed to the injuries as a reason why rookie receivers haven't had a big impact for the Giants (even Smith was limited by shoulder and hamstring injuries early in 2007), though he admitted there's a "learning curve and a process" for rookies.

At least Nicks and Barden will have Smith and Domenik Hixon to help them along, as the entire corps tries to compensate for the loss of Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer.

"I know they can come make the plays," Smith said. "We have a great staff. They know who to draft in terms of guys that can come in and make plays. So I know they're talented; just get in the playbook."

Hixon added that his experience of being cut by the Broncos, along with Smith's contributing immediately as a rookie, should help the pair mentor the young receivers. "What 'Plax' and 'Toom' did for us, I'll try to pass that on and give some of that advice," Hixon said. "We've already been through a lot of different situations - me being released, Steve coming in and playing right away. Just different situations we can help them out with."

* Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan met with reporters for the first time since being promoted from LB coach. Sheridan dropped a few tidbits about his defensive plans: He'll be in the box, not on the sideline, during games; the defense will be more "streamlined" with fewer looks than Steve Spagnuolo's schemes; he won't ask his pass rushers to drop into coverage on zone blitzes as often; and rookie LB Clint Sintim (second round) will have his hand in the grass as a pass rusher on third downs.

* C Shaun O'Hara, a Rutgers alum, on the school's record of five players drafted this past weekend: "I wouldn't say shocked, but excited, happy for the program. It says a lot about Greg Schiano and the job he's done in not only recruiting athletes but developing them."

* The Giants' rookie-pool allotment to sign their nine draft picks was set at $4,867,462.

Mike Garafolo may be reached at mgarafolo@starledger.com

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009

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