View Full Version : NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2012 - 2:40 P.M.

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</font></u><u><font color="#ff0000" size="4">THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER</font><font color="#ff0000" size="4">. </font></u><font size="4">
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</font></u></font></font><font size="4"><font size="6"><font size="4"><font color="#FF0000"><u><font size="6">NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS</font></u></font>
NEWARK STAR LEDGER</u></font><font size="4"><font size="3">

GIANTS' VICTOR CRUZ DRAWS WES WELKER COMPARISONS FROM FALCONS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_wr_victor_cruz_draws_we.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Haven't had enough Victor Cruz this week yet? Here's a few extras from Atlanta
Falcons camp today, where talk was again dominated by the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/victor_cruzs_breakout_season_d.html">Giants
wideout and the damage he can do</a>.

Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud was asked to compare Cruz to another player in
the league. </p>

"I would say, maybe a bigger Wes Welker?" DeCoud said. "They have the same
kind of quickness, the ability to make guys miss and to just get open, his
ability to be a slot receiver and you know, make plays for his quarterback, find
open areas and make plays with his feet once he gets the ball in his hands."

So, if you stop Cruz you stop the Giants? </p>

"I mean, just slowing it down, they have Hakeem Nicks who's also a great
receiver, so we have to know where he is," DeCoud said. "If we can slow those
two guys down and play solid against the run I think it will be a good day for
us."
</p><font size="4"><font size="3">JUSTIN TUCK SAYS GIANTS "WILL GO AS FAR AS OUR QUARTERBACK AND D LINE TAKE US" (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/justin_tuck_says_giants_will_g.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>The Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants) have 11 sacks in their last
two games. That comes after they had 11 sacks in the seven games before

What gives?</p>

"One of them is Osi (Umenyiora) is back," defensive end Justin Tuck said
today after the second practice of the week in preparation for Sunday's playoff
game against the Falcons. "I think our intensity has been turned up in practice.
And we’ve been as healthy as we’ve been all year."</p>

All of that combined is why the Giants' defense is confident heading into the
postseason and the players believe they can make a run here.</p>

"We just have to cointinue to get better. We’ve had two good days of practice
so far," Tuck said. "The biggest thing for us is learning what they want to do
against us. Watching teams that have similar D-lines and run similar systems as
we do see what they try to do to slow them down and have ways to combat

After a pause, he added: "We can definitely make a lot of noise in this run.
We’re only going to go as far as our quarterback and D-line take us."</p>

* * * *</p>

Umenyiora had a sack on one of the first few plays he had against the
Cowboys. He came free when Tuck broke his rush to the outside and Umenyiora
looped inside.</p>

"It was a designed stunt and something we worked on," Umenyiora said. "We
knew the guy on the outside was going to chip me so me and him worked the game.
He went high and I came up under the chip so I was happy it worked out that

Despite missing four games, Umenyiora didn't lose any of the chemistry with
his teammates, apparently.</p>

"Oh no question. Me and Justin especially," Umenyiora said. "We’ve worked
together for a long time. A lot of times we don’t even have to look at each
other but I know exactly what he’s going to do and I know exactly how I’m going
to play off him because we’ve been in there so long together so it’s a positive
for sure."</p>

More coming in the next few hours on Umenyiora, who strongly hinted he's in
his final game(s) with the Giants."
</p><font size="3">GIANTS' HOT TOPIC: TALK SUPERSTITIONS, GAME DAY RITUALS, AND PLAYOFF PLANS</font> (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_talk_supersti.html)

"Big Blue is back in the NFL playoffs, hosting a wild-card round game Sunday
against the Falcons, and we know Giants fans are excited. And, hey, <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_mathias_kiwanuka_this_i.html">if
Mathias Kiwanuka is right</a>, buckle your seatbelts because it's going to be a
long playoff run and a great month.<div class="entry-content">

What we don't know, though, is how you plan on watching Sunday's game. Are
you going to be hosting a party with friends and family? Going out to a local
establishment? Heading to the game and tailgating early at MetLife Stadium?
Superstitious enough to watch alone on the same couch cushion as the past two

Tell us about those plans for Sunday. Drop down to the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_talk_supersti.html#comments">comments
section</a> and leave a comment letting us know how you're watching the

If you have game-day rituals, we want to know about those, too. How early
will you be putting your blue clothing on? Will you switch spots in the room if
the Giants are losing early? Banning a fan of a non-playoff team (cough, Jets;
cough, Eagles) from stepping foot in the house? Let us know.</p>

Maybe you have your own Giants-themed basement or man-cave. If so, be sure
take pictures and <a href="http://photos.nj.com/photogallery/upload.html">upload
them</a> to NJ.com. We want to see your best photos and even videos (http://videos.nj.com//upload.html)!</p>

Fans are <a href="http://www.facebook.com/NYGiantsFootball">liking our
Giants Facebook page</a> in droves. Don't miss out on all the latest news and
fan-fun from The Star-Ledger and NJ.com straight to your Facebook
</p></div><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS' MATHIAS KIWANUKA: "THIS IS DEFINITELY A SUPER BOWL TEAM" (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_mathias_kiwanuka_this_i.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>It may have taken until the final two weeks of the season, but the Giants
finally think they're playing their best football. And as recent history tells
us -- see the 2010 Packers -- there's no better time to play your best football
than when entering the playoffs.

Consequently, confidence is oozing out of East Rutherford -- to the point
where at least one player believes this team can go from 7-7 and out of the
postseason to champion in just over a month.</p>
<div class="embeddedMedia entry_widget_large entry_widget_right"><span style="DISPLAY: inline" class="mt-enclosure mt-enclosure-photo"><span class="adv-video"><a class="bc_video"><span class="bc_video_overlay"></span></a><span class="video-data"><span class="title"> (http://videos.nj.com/star-ledger/2012/01/giants_beat_reporters_mike_gar_3.html)</span><span class="caption">Giants beat
reporters Mike Garafolo along with Jorge Castillo breakdown todays events from
practice and they are joined by Star-Ledger columnist Steve Politi and also
Star-Ledger Jets beat writer Jenny Vrentas for some in depth analysis of the
Giants as they prepare for the Falcons on Sunday. (Video by William Perlman/The
Star-Ledger)</span> <span class="view"><a>Watch video</a></span> </span><span class="photo-bottom-left"></span><span class="photo-bottom-right"></span></span></span>


"This is definitely a Super Bowl team," linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said. "We
just have to get it done." Read more...</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS HOT TOPIC: WHAT ARE THE GIANTS' BIGGEST VULNERABILITIES AND BIGGEST ADVANTAGES? (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_hot_topic_what_are_the.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Giants fans, what are going to be the keys to this Giants-Falcons divisional
playoff game? Who will be the players and units to watch on both sides?

Heading into only the Giants' third home playoff game in over a decade, what
worries you most about the Falcons? What are the Giants' biggest
vulnerabilities. And what should the Falcons and their fans be fearing? What are
the Giants' biggest advantages?</p>

The Star-Ledger's Jorge Castillo writes today about <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/for_giants_atlanta_falcons_are.html">the
Falcons' potent passing attack</a>, eighth in the NFL, and indeed their weapons
all over the field on offense - they're the No. 7 scoring team in the league. Is
the new simplified Giants' coverage scheme up for the task? </p>

Will the Giants' No. 3 sacking defense in the league be able to get to Matt
Ryan? The Falcons are sixth in the league in fewest sacks allowed. Will Eli
Manning be able to get the NFL's No. 5 passing attack going against the
20th-ranked passing defense? The Falcons are ranked 19th in sacks, 10th in
INTs."
<font size="4"><font size="3">##

FALCONS' TONY GONZALEZ FINDS WHAT HE WANTS DESPITE NOT JOINING GIANTS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/falcons_tony_gonzalez_finds_wh.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Looking back on it now, Tony Gonzalez figures the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) just thought he was washed up.

In truth, the Atlanta Falcons tight end wanted to be in New York. When his
time with the Kansas City Chiefs ran its course in 2008, the 12-time Pro Bowler
directed his efforts toward the most attractive offense on the board. </p>

He wanted to play with Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs. He wanted to gel with
a group of proven wideouts. He wanted to go to the Super Bowl, which the Giants
had won the year before. </p>

“I think about it all the time,” Gonzalez said at his locker today. “I was
pushing for that, too. But it didn’t happen; I think they thought I was too old
back then.”</p>

Gonzalez, 35, laughs about it now, assured that he’s found what he was
looking for here in Georgia. The first time he played the Giants as a Falcon
back in 2009, proving them wrong was admittedly in the back of his mind, he
burned them for eight catches, 82 yards and a touchdown.
“I had a pretty
good game,” he said with a smile.</p>

But this time, the Giants are in the way of his ultimate goal, and not the
vehicle to make it there. Gonzalez has played for two NFL teams over 15 seasons,
amassing 13,338 yards and 95 touchdowns on 1,149 receptions, but has yet to
experience a playoff victory in four postseason games.</p>

“I would never look back at myself and say ‘Woe is me,’?” Gonzalez said.
“That’s not going to be me, and if it is, I’ll kick myself in my own (butt) and
say ‘Get over it.’?”</p>

But a playoff win, and the chance to push toward the Super Bowl, would mean
everything. </p>

“I’m looking forward to it, because I do see the window closing on my career
so hopefully we can get it done,” he said. “But it’s not about just winning a
playoff game, I don’t care. It’s about going out there and hopefully winning a
Super Bowl.” </p>

In his downtime, Gonzalez sometimes seeks out the guidance of Hall of Fame
quarterback Warren Moon, who played from 1984 to 2000. Moon went to 10 playoff
games in his career (1984-2000) and won three, but never advanced past the
second round. His last playoff win was with the Houston Oilers in December 1991."

VICTOR CRUZ'S BREAKOUT SEASON DOESN'T SURPRISE GIANTS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/victor_cruzs_breakout_season_d.html)</p>

"David Diehl made occasional appearances at some of the workouts Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) quarterback Eli Manning held in the
offseason during the lockout. Diehl’s a lineman, so there wasn’t much he could
do, though he did run a few routes one day just for laughs.</p>

However, it was serious business for Victor Cruz.</p>

“He was at every single workout with Eli, getting his reps, getting crisp in
his route running, doing all those things,” Diehl said. “So the way he’s played
this season, for us, it’s no surprise.”</p>

The fact he’s an impact player is one thing. But five touchdowns of 68 yards
or more, including a 74-yarder against the Dallas Cowboys, is no surprise?</p>

Well, not anymore, because <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_victor_cruz_puts_g.html">Cruz
has made the big play</a> seem as simple as a short hook or out route. As a
matter of fact, that’s how a few of them began.</p>

His touchdown against Dallas was a 5-yard out followed by a 69-yard scamper,
his 99-yarder against the Jets was caught 10 yards from the line of scrimmage
and his 74-yard touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles began as an 8-yard
wheel route. </p>

But there have also been jump balls a 6-footer has no business winning, such
as his 68-yarder on a tip-and-catch against the Seattle Seahawks plus a 28-yard
touchdown over the Eagles’ Nnamdi Asomugha.</p>

This season, Cruz became the first player since Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch for
the 1951 Rams to score five touchdowns of 65 yards or more. (Hirsch had

“Any time I get a chance to get the ball,” Cruz said, “I want to make the big

And he’s done just that.</p>

“He does a great job after catching the ball of making guys miss, making big
plays,” Manning said. “He’s got a knack for making a little tick or a play that
is designed to get 4, 5 or 6 yards and turn it into 60- and 70-yard plays.</p>

“He’s not trying to do that every time. It’s just the way he plays, it turns
out that way.”</p>

Things could turn out that way this Sunday in the playoff game against the
Atlanta Falcons, who have allowed 56 pass plays of 20 or more yards (ninth most
in the NFL) and 12 of 40 yards or longer (tied for fifth most).</p>

Perhaps Atlanta’s best shot at defending Cruz is cornerback Brent Grimes.
He’s quick, athletic and can rise up to compensate for his 5-10, 183-pound
frame. </p>

Only one problem: Grimes had knee surgery in December, played in only one of
the last five games, missed practice yesterday and is very much up in the air
for Sunday.</p>

So look out for the big play.</p>

“You have to be disciplined and know when to strike and make that big play
and hit them over the top,” Cruz said. </p>

“It’s going to take discipline on top of making some big plays because you
have to make some big plays to change the momentum of the game and allow things
to go in our favor.”</p>

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White suggested Cruz should enjoy these big plays
while he can because “next year, he may be in for a rude awakening” once
defenses have an offseason to game plan for him.</p>

Well, maybe not, considering teams have been trying to double-team him for a
few weeks now. </p>

The Cowboys devoted two defenders at the line a few weeks ago and then tried
to bracket him with a safety this past weekend, only to see him get to the edge
and run up the sideline.</p>

So maybe that’s why White, who held out for a six-year, $48 million deal in
2009, said Cruz “deserves” a big payday.</p>

That’ll be determined soon enough, perhaps next season. For now, what’s clear
is Cruz deserves the big plays he’s making.</p>

“It’s a great credit to Victor. He’s worked extremely hard learning this
offense,” Manning said, pointing those offseason workouts while also adding:
“He’s done a great job making plays, on some short throws, making guys miss and
doing a lot of the work on his own.”</p>FOR GIANTS, FALCONS ARE ANOTHER IN A LINE OF OPPONENTS WITH TOUGH PASSING UNITS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/for_giants_atlanta_falcons_are.html)

Excerpt: "All week, the Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) have reiterated
how the regular season — the grueling schedule, the barrage of injuries, the
frustrating stretches — has left them “battle-tested.” Many of those battles
were waged by the defense, and more specifically, the secondary.

Now comes another test to open the playoffs on Sunday against the Atlanta
Falcons — and another for the secondary in the form of one of the league’s top
offenses with a myriad of weapons. </p>

It’s nothing new. At this point, the Giants’ defense is accustomed to the
challenge. During the regular season, they opposed five of the league’s top nine
passing offenses on seven occasions, including the league’s three most prolific
attacks: New Orleans, New England and Green Bay, and Dallas and Philadelphia
twice each. </p>

This Sunday, it will be an Atlanta Falcons unit that ranked eighth in
passing, 10th in total offense and seventh in points scored utilizing an
assortment of options at quarterback Matt Ryan’s disposal.</p>

“You have to take away their playmakers,” safety Antrel Rolle said. “You name
it — they have them stacked at each and every position.”</p>

On the outside, Ryan has his choice of one of the best receiving duos in the
NFL: the consistent Roddy White and the physical,</p>

speedy rookie Julio Jones. For good measure, there’s the NFL’s
second-all-time leader in receiving yards at tight end, Tony Gonzalez.</p>

Then in the backfield there’s the bruising Michael Turner, who finished third
in the NFL with 1,340 rushing yards and is coming off a 172-yard performance in
the Falcons’ regular-season finale — a 45-24 victory over the Bucs in which he
averaged 10.1 yards per carry.</p>

Just a few weeks ago, after a meltdown in the secondary against Dallas that
nearly derailed their playoff hopes, this would have spelled disaster for the
Giants. But not after the defense has put together perhaps its best stretch this
season, allowing just 14 points in each of the last two games and carrying the
team to victory in must-win situations.</p>

“I just think any game that you go through obviously is going to help you,”
cornerback Corey Webster said. “You play those games early on, watch film, go
back to the drawing board and learn from them. I think we did a good job of
correcting the mistakes that we made. It has made us a better team, the way
we’ve been competing the last couple weeks.”</p>

In recent weeks, players have said much of the secondary’s improvement is due
to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell simplifying schemes. Gone are the
head-scratching lapses in coverage that plagued the team for a lengthy
</p>“Everything’s clicked,” safety Deon Grant said. “We were just trying to do
too much. It’s more of that. We were trying to do too much in the middle of the
season. We were trying to cover up for this — too many players, too many
individuals trying to do the next guy’s job. We just realized that’s not
working.”

D'ALESSANDRO: ELI MANNING PROVES CRITICS WRONG AS GIANTS RETURN TO POSTSEASON (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/dalessandro_eli_manning_proves.html)</p>

Excerpt: "Now that we’ve answered that Elite Question after 17 weeks of sustained
excellence, we respectfully submit this follow-up about Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) quarterback Eli Manning: Who says
that’s good enough?</p>

That’s not meant to be contrary or snarky, it’s just that we live in an age
when another quarterback in town can win four playoff games on the road in two
years, and then be universally derided as a has-been by Year 3. </p>

So why the unerring confidence in Eli?</p>

Why the crystalline certainty in a guy who hasn’t won a playoff game in four
years? </p>

Why the universal approbation for a fellow who has never won a postseason
game in his own building? </p>

Is it something he’s said? Is it something he’s done?</p>

No, and no. </p>

Maybe you just expect the best from Eli Manning because he’s a former Super
Bowl MVP — a trophy he won after a mediocre season, by the way — and is now
light-years better than the player we saw in Glendale, Ariz. </p>

We only know that it’s something he’ll never give much thought to. Eli
doesn’t do introspection. Not even for special occasions, like the visit from
the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. So sometimes — just for kicks, mindful that it’s
an exercise in futility — we wonder whether he’s willing to show some outward
sign of the inviolable faith everyone else seems to have in Eli himself. </p>

“Futile,” Chris Snee warned us. </p>

Yeah, but it beats talking about the Giants’ blocking schemes or the Iowa
caucus, we told Mr. Right Guard. </p>

“Eli doesn’t change,” Snee said. “Ever. For any circumstance.”</p>

But this is a good thing, one might guess.</p>

“I would think so,” Snee replied. “It’s funny how times change. A couple of
years ago, Eli would be bashed for being nonemotional, and we were saying that
this is what we like in our quarterback — how even-keeled he is. But he doesn’t
change. He’s very consistent. That’s what makes him so good.” Read more...
</p><font size="3">GIANTS' MICHAEL BOLEY SAYS HE HOLDS NO GRUDGE AGAINST FALCONS</font> (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_michael_boley_says_he_h.html)

"Giants (http://www.nj.com/giants/) linebacker Michael Boley said
he doesn’t have any bad feelings toward the Atlanta Falcons, the organization
that made him a fifth-round pick in 2005 and started him in 52 games over four

“I’m not bitter, they gave me my first shot, so I thank the team for that,”
said Boley, who will help the Giants face Atlanta in the playoffs Sunday. “I had
some good times there, definitely had my bad times that (Bobby) Petrino year,
but other than that it was cool.”</p>

Boley was benched by current Falcons coach Mike Smith for a portion of his
final season in Atlanta. He said he made a point when he had 13 tackles and a
sack against the Falcons in 2009.

“My point was heard very well,” he said."
</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS' DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR, PERRY FEWELL, SIGNED THROUGH 2012 (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_defensive_coordinator_p_9.html)

Excerpt: "</font></font>Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is signed with the team through
next season, according to someone informed of Fewell's contract status.

The person, who requested anonymity because the team doesn't usually divulge
the deals for their coaches, said Fewell received an extension last offseason
after his round of head-coaching interviews with the Broncos, Panthers, Browns
and Titans. <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2011/01/ron_rivera_officially_nudges_o.html">Fewell
was the runner-up to Ron Rivera</a> in Carolina.</p>

Fewell initially signed a two-year deal with the Giants after the team fired
Bill Sheridan following the 2009 season." Read more...</p>

GIANTS' JASON PIERRE-PAUL NAMED NFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE MONTH (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants.html)</p>

"Over the past month, DE Jason Pierre-Paul has established himself as one of
the NFL's elite defensive linemen, garnering the NFC Defensive Player of the
Week award twice and earning a spot in the Pro Bowl in the process. </p>

It only makes sense that he was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Month
for December/January today. </p>

In the season’s final five games over the month-plus stretch, Pierre-Paul had
37 tackles (28 solo), including six sacks for 46 yards in losses. He twice had
two sacks in a game, both of which were followed with the weekly award. </p>

Yet, Pierre-Paul -- along with his coaches and teammates -- believes there's
still some untapped potential considering he's only in his second pro season and
began playing football his senior year of high school.</p>

“I knew that I was going to have a great year this year,” Pierre-Paul said.
“I came in and last year (as a rookie) I had an alright season and I wanted to
do better than what I did last year. Next year, or next season in 2012, I should
be better than this year.” </p>

It was in the Giants' 37-34 win over the Cowboys on Dec. 11 that Pierre-Paul
burst onto the national spotlight. The second-year defensive end led the Giants
with eight tackles, including two sacks of Tony Romo, the first of which
resulted in a safety. He also forced a fumble that led to a Giants field goal
and secured the victory by blocking Dan Bailey’s 47-yard field goal attempt with
one second left.</p>

He followed that up by registering a career-high 16 tackles and a sack
against Washington, and five tackles and two sacks against the Jets.</p>

Pierre-Paul finished the season with 16.5 sacks and became the only Giants
player in history other than Lawrence Taylor and Michael Strahan with at least
16 sacks in a season."</p><font size="4"><font size="3">GIANTS' INJURY REPORT DWINDLING AS JAKE BALLARD AND MARK HERZLICH MAKE PROGRESS (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_injury_report_dwindling.html)

"</font></font>The Giants’ injury report is finally dwindling, as players return to the
field and the team continues to get healthier at the right time. There were just
five names on today’s injury report and two – RB Da’Rel Scott (knee) and DE Osi
Umenyiora (ankle/knee) – practiced fully.

But two others are still battling injuries that could keep them on the
sideline Sunday against the Falcons.</p>

TE Jake Ballard was limited in today’s practice and said tomorrow’s session
will be the major test for him and his chances of playing on Sunday. Tomorrow
he’ll get more reps and a chance to run and cut to test his partially torn

“It’s all about running,” Ballard said. “I can block -- it’s all about
whether I can run routes and be effective doing that or not.”</p>

Since Ballard sustained the injury the Giants have turned to a combination of
Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum. Pascoe had four catches for 40 yards since
Ballard sustained the injury against Washington in Week 15.</p>

Ballard said it was difficult watching the team the last two weeks and not
being able to play in such important games, but his outlook is a lot more
optimistic this week.</p>

“From last to this week, I definitely feel a lot more confident in my knee,”
Ballard said. “I’ll be taking a lot more reps tomorrow and I’ll have more of an
idea of what’s going to happen.”</p>

LB Mark Herzlich’s chances of suiting up Sunday are also higher than last
week, but it remains a long shot. Herzlich has been out since suffering an ankle
injury against the Saints on Nov. 28 and said the ankle still isn’t pain-free.

He said he went to the hospital yesterday and imaging showed that “the
healing is coming along.” Today, he made it out to the practice field today,
participating in the jog through and stretching before he worked with the
training staff on the side. </p>

It’s not much, but it’s improvement.</p>

“I got out there and did a little bit at least, so it’s progress,” the rookie
linebacker said.</p>

As expected, RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) was held out and won’t likely practice
until Friday."</p><font size="3">FALCONS' WR RODDY WHITE SYAD VICTOR CRUZ IS IN FOR A "RUDE AWAKENING" AND "GOOD PAY DAY" NEXT YEAR</font> (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/falcons_wr_roddy_white_says_vi.html)

"The hardest part of having a breakout year, Roddy White said, is the way
defenses start to game plan against you. <div class="entry-content">

And for that, he feels like Giants wideout Victor Cruz – who <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/as_giants_play_cowboys_for_nfc.html">leads
the team with 82 receptions for 1,536 yards</a> and nine touchdowns – may be
surprised by what he sees next season. </p>

"Next year, he may be in for a rude awakening," White said. </p>

In spite of that, White said he's a fan of Cruz's and thinks that he's
definitely in for a big pay day. White held out for his back in 2009 after two
straight 1,200-plus yard seasons and ended up with a six-year deal with $48
million. </p>

"Any time you put out those kinds of numbers, he’s going to be in for a
really good pay day, but he deserves it," White said. "Any guy that goes out
there and puts up 1,500 yards, that’s remarkable. That’s one of the nicest
seasons you can have so I think the Giants should pay him."</p>

After saying that, White began to laugh at the notion of suggesting another
player should get a bigger deal. "I’m a Victor Cruz fan," he said. "I think they
should pay him." </p>

White said he's seen Cruz on television and film a few times. On his
touchdown salsa dance, which seems to be emulated around the league, White

"I’ve seen it a couple times, it’s pretty nice, a pretty nice dance. It’s
elegant, very nice." </p></div>FALCONS' OFFENSIVE LINEMEN SAY THEY AREN'T A GROUP OF "DIRTBAGS" (http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/falcons_offensive_linemen_say.html)

Excerpt: "Justin Tuck told reporters on Monday that "most people" would refer to the <a href="http://www.nj.com/giants/index.ssf/2012/01/giants_justin_tuck_most_people.html">Falcons'
offensive line as "dirtbags</a>." And by today, Atlanta's starting left tackle,
Will Svitek, was considering some marketing opportunities that may come along
with such a nickname.

"I have to find out the Wikipedia definition of dirtbag, I don't know there.
I was joking maybe we should make T-shirts and start branding this, you know?"
he said. "We could make a profit in the New York market, it's an

Svitek said that he's been receiving e-mails and text messages from friends
all week, joking about the comment. </p>

But in all seriousness, he echoed the same sentiment as most of the offensive
linemen wearing red and black, saying that the Falcons "play to the whistle" and
that it may be misinterpreted sometimes. </p>

He rephrased it, and said that they may be "pests." </p>

"I know we definitely don't do things after the whistle because it's illegal,
you'll get a 15-yard penalty, A, and you'll get a fine from the league office,
B," he said. "We don't want either of those, like I said, I think we play to the
whistle. We're going to be pests, we're going to always be hovering around, but
if (Tuck) thinks that's being dirty or being cheap, we can't control that, we
don't think it is. We have our style, we've always done it and that's the kind
of way we do things here." Read more...\
</p>VIDEO: FALCONS PREPARE FOR GIANTS (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/video_falcons_prepare_for_giants_kF9Aa9c7RFbqoTQR0 ikcSO)

<font size="4"><u>NY DAILY NEWS
SUPER BOWL RUN RESTS ON ELI MANNING'S SHOULDERS (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/years-triumph-super-bowl-xlii-familiar-ny-giants-article-1.1000558)

"There may never be anything more magical for Eli Manning (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Eli+Manning) than the
moments he had during the run to Super Bowl XLII. His performance was at times
brilliant, often dramatic and always clutch.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none"><div class="story-body">

But there was more to the Giants in 2007 than Manning’s golden arm. They had
a relentless defense and a powerful running game. The Giants didn’t need the
quarterback to carry them through the postseason.</p>

Now they do.</p>

The 31-year-old quarterback may disagree, but the truth is the Giants’
playoff hopes rest on him beginning Sunday in their wild-card playoff game
against the Atlanta Falcons at the Meadowlands. They enter the postseason with
the NFL’s worst rushing attack and the sixth-worst defense. Manning, meanwhile,
is coming off by far the best regular season of his eight-year career.</p>

He has carried his team through most of the season, and <a title="Tom Coughlin" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin">Tom
Coughlin</a> believe he’s more than capable of lifting them again.</p>

“Without a doubt he’s up to that challenge,” Coughlin said. “Or any

That confidence comes from Manning’s remarkable performance, in which he set
franchise records for passing yards (4,933), attempts (589) and completions
(359). He also set an NFL record by throwing 15 of his 29 touchdown passes in
the fourth quarter – a big reason why he was able to lead the Giants back from a
fourth-quarter deficit to a win five times.</p>

In a season during which 10 of the Giants’ games weren’t decided until the
final two minutes, Manning’s play has usually been the difference. But the calm,
Pro Bowl-bound quarterback still doesn’t feel it is his burden to carry his

“No. I think that’s the point of a team,” he said. “It’s everybody doing
their jobs. It’s everybody leaning on each other. Our defense is playing
outstanding lately. Hopefully they continue to do that. Offensively, the run
game is coming around. We’ve run better in the last half of the season than we
did at the beginning. The receivers are back healthy and doing a good job of
getting open. When we play our best it’s when all three phases of the game are
all playing at a high level.”</p>

The truth, though, is that has rarely happened – even with the recent
improvements in the defense (11 sacks in the last two games) and rushing attack
(104.4 yards per game in December and January). And with the NFC playoffs loaded
with high-flying passing attacks (all but the 49ers rank in the NFL’s top
eight), Manning will surely have to be on his game.</p>

And that’s where he gets into somewhat uncharted territory because his
overall playoff history has not been good. In the postseason, he has never
thrown for more than the 255 yards he accumulated in Super Bowl XLII.</p>

He has never had a playoff game with more than two touchdown passes. His last
trip to the playoffs was particularly dismal, when he completed 15 of 29 passes
for 169 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in a loss to the Eagles that
closed out the disappointing 2008 season.</p>

That year, in the wake of the Plaxico Burress (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Plaxico+Burress)
shooting, it seemed as if the burden of carrying his team was far too much. That
doesn’t seem to be the case this season, when even Manning’s teammates say he’s
playing as if he is on a mission. His backup, David Carr (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Carr), called it an
“assassin-like mentality” about going out and getting his job done any way he

And if his job is to carry the Giants through the playoffs? That’s probably
no big deal to him.</p>

“I think the good ones like that,” Carr said. “I think they want it on their
shoulders. I don’t think that gets old for him at all. I think that's why he

FALCONS' GUARD TODD MCCLURE AND MORE LAUGH OFF JUSTIN TUCK'S TOUGH TALK BEFORE GIANTS' WILD CAR MATCHUP (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/atlanta-falcons-laugh-justin-tuck-talk-article-1.1001105)</p>

Excerpt: "Dirt bags?</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

The Falcons offensive line didn’t really mind Justin Tuck (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Justin+Tuck)’s
unflattering description of them.</p>

“The way I look at it, I take it as a compliment,” veteran guard <a title="Todd McClure" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Todd+McClure">Todd
McClure</a> was saying at the team’s practice facility Wednesday. “We’re a unit
that prides itself on getting down the field and protecting the guys that have
the ball in their hands. If they consider us dirt bags, that’s what we are.”</p>

“I had to go look up the Wikipedia definition of dirt bag,” smirked LT <a title="Will Svitek" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Will+Svitek">Will
Svitek</a>, who said he’s been called a worse bag. Svitek says they might even
make up some Dirt Bag T-shirts.</p>

“Maybe we should start branding this and make a profit in the New York
market. Maybe it’s an opportunity,” Svitek said.</p>

Obviously, this isn’t Jets-Giants or Giants-Cowboys. The Falcons, who have
taken their cue from laid-back <a title="Mike Smith (Head Coach)" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Mike+Smith+%28Head+Coach%29">head coach Mike
Smith</a>, would rather laugh it off than return fire.</p>

“We’ve tried to move past it, but you guys aren’t going to let us,” said RT
Tyson Clabo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tyson+Clabo). “It’s just
a little friendly chatter between two teams that are about to play a physical
football game.”</p>

Clabo, who spent some time on the Giants’ practice squad, even suggested that
Tuck, “didn’t mean it. He’s a nice guy.”</p>

At the same time, the Falcons defended themselves against any notion that
they were a cheap shot group, even though that has become their reputation.
Earlier this year, the Packers’ B.J. Raji (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/B.J.+Raji) complained
about cheap shots after the whistle. Coincidentally, the Lions’ Ndamukong Suh (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ndamukong+Suh), voted
the dirtiest player in the league, called them dirty.</p>

“There have been others who have said similar things, and my response to them
is that we play to the whistle and we’re going to continue to do that,” Clabo
said. “That’s just kind of the way we play and why we’ve had the success that
we’ve had here.”</p>

Certainly, Smith doesn’t want to change anything.</p>

“Justin Tuck is a great player. I’ve got all the respect in the world for
him. I really don’t want to comment about his comment,” Smith began. “I will say
this. Our offensive line is a very aggressive, passionate group of guys that
play the game the way we want it to be played.” Read more...<a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-defensive-coordinator-fewell-return-article-1.1001098">

GIANTS' DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR PERRY FEWELL LIKELY TO RETURN TO SIDELINES AFTER SIGNING ON-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/ny-giants-defensive-coordinator-fewell-return-article-1.1001098)</p></div>

Excerpt "Perry Fewell (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Perry+Fewell)'s job is
safer than anyone knew.</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

The Giants defensive coordinator, whose stock seemed to slip this season as
his defense fell in the rankings, quietly signed a one-year contract extension
last winter, meaning he is signed through the 2012 season, according to a source
familiar with his deal. He originally signed a two-year contract back in 2010,
which had many believing his contract was about to expire.</p>

With a deal in place, however, and with Fewell’s defense looking much better
over the final two weeks of the season, it’s almost certain that he will be back
with the Giants next year.</p>

That should end the speculation that the Giants were preparing to try to lure
back Steve Spagnuolo (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Steve+Spagnuolo),
their popular defensive coordinator from 2007-08. Spagnuolo was fired earlier
this week after spending the last three years as head coach of the St. Louis
Rams. The Giants and Eagles were both rumored to be interested in bringing him
back as a defensive coordinator.</p>

Of course, the Giants could still be interested in “Spags” if Fewell ends up
as a head coach somewhere else in the NFL — something that’s not out of the
question considering he was a hot candidate last offseason, interviewing for
four jobs. Fewell was reportedly the runner-up to Ron Rivera (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Ron+Rivera) in Carolina
and he interviewed with the Browns, Broncos and Titans, too." Read more...

GIANTS ARE HUNGRY FOR SUPER BOWL, NOT JUST NFL'S WILD CARD ROUND (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/mind-wild-card-ny-giants-hungry-article-1.1001176)</p>

Excerpt: "It’s been 1,432 days since the Giants last won a playoff game and they haven’t
waited this long and suffered so much to be one-and-done against the Falcons on

After missing the playoffs the last two seasons and going out in
their first postseason game of the 2008 season when they were the No. 1 seed,
the Giants haven’t won in the playoffs since Super Bowl XLII against the
Patriots. If misery loves company, then consider that the mighty Patriots
haven’t won a playoff game since the AFC Championship Game two weeks before that
Super Bowl.

“Is that true?” Giants guard Chris Snee (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Chris+Snee) asked
Wednesday. “I didn’t know that.”

Snee is one of just 14 players active in
that Super Bowl who remain on the Giants. Not making the playoffs the last two
years has been miserable. The Giants are not just a hungry team. They are

“I’m glad to be back in it,” Snee said. “I couldn’t have taken
another year of watching.”

Late-season collapses eliminated the Giants
from making the playoffs the last two years. They were on their way to another
epic fold this season when they lost four in a row after getting through the
first half of the season at 6-2. But they finished up by beating the Jets and
Cowboys the last two weeks in what essentially were playoff games.

won the NFC East and ended all speculation over whether Tom Coughlin (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Tom+Coughlin) would get

The Giants made the playoffs four years in a row from 2005-08 and
might have repeated as Super Bowl champs, but Plaxico Burress (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Plaxico+Burress)
accidentally shot himself in the leg the night after Thanksgiving in ’08,
ruining the season.

Snee became accustomed to making the playoffs just
about every year early in his career.

“You kind of feel like that’s the
norm,” he said. “Then, to take two years off and you realize that it’s not, that
it’s a special thing, it’s a rare thing to be in it and you have to savor every
opportunity. You only get so many years to make that special run.”

last time the Giants missed the playoffs two years in a row was the final year
of <a title="Jim Fassel" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Jim+Fassel">Jim
Fassel</a> in 2003 and Coughlin’s first year in 2004. Those were also tackle <a title="David Diehl" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/David+Diehl">David
Diehl</a>’s first two years in the NFL.

“We’re playing this game for one
reason and that’s to win the Super Bowl and be world champs again,” he said.
“It’s not just about making the playoffs, it’s about doing something. It’s about
making a run.”

The playoff buzz was back in the Giants locker room on
Wednesday. There is more of a sense of urgency. The confidence, nearly destroyed
by the consecutive losses to the 49ers, Eagles, Saints and Packers, has
resurfaced. The Giants are playing their best football of the season.

we’re playing the way we are playing and we can continue to stay playing
disciplined football and we can keep playing well, then I think we can take this
as far as we want to take it, even all the way up to the Super Bowl,” said wide
receiver Victor Cruz (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz), who has
emerged as a star. “But we have to take it one step at a time and take each
opponent as it is and take each individually and we’ll see how it

The Giants should be rooting for the Lions to upset the Saints
Saturday night at the Superdome. That would send the Giants to San Francisco in
the second round instead of Green Bay – if they are able to beat Atlanta. The
49ers have been one of the best stories in the league this season, but the
Giants would have a much better chance of scoring 20 points on the tough Niners
defense and stopping Alex Smith (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Alex+Smith+%28Quarterback%29)
than they would of having to win their second playoff game at Lambeau Field in
the last five seasons."

FALCONS' RODDY WHITE GETS ROWDY PRAISING GIANTS WR VICTOR CRUZ (http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/atlanta-falcons-roddy-white-rowdy-praising-ny-giants-victor-cruz-article-1.1001076)</p>

Excerpt: "Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Roddy+White) says <a title="Victor Cruz" href="http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Victor+Cruz">Victor
Cruz</a> could be in for a “rude awakening.”</p><div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

Not Sunday, when the teams meet in the NFC wild-card playoffs, but next year,
when teams start to game plan for Cruz after his breakout season. White would
know, based on his own experience.</p>

But White also added, “Anytime you put up those kind of numbers, he’s going
to be in for a really good pay day. But he deserves it. Any guy that goes out
there and puts up 1,500 yards, that’s remarkable. It’s one of the nicest seasons
you can have. I think the Giants should pay him. I’m a Victor Cruz fan. I think
they should pay him.”</p>

White, who set the Falcons’ all-time receiving mark while Cruz set the
Giants’ single-season standard this year, even likes Cruz’s salsa celebration,
which was mocked by the Cowboys’ Laurent Robinson (http://www.nydailynews.com/topics/Laurent+Robinson)
last week.</p>

“Yeah, I’ve seen it a couple of times,” White said. “It’s a pretty nice
dance. It’s elegant."
</p></div></div></div><u><font size="4">NY POST</font></u>
GIANTS CAN LEAN ON RUNNING GAME IF FALCONS GROUND MANNING (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/any_way_possible_j35fVBPxbcY0WDaFoRyMWI)

Excerpt: "If Eli Manning (/t/Eli_Manning)has to carry the
Giants on Sunday, or for however long this playoff experience lasts, he can do
it.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

So says his head coach.</p>

“Without a doubt he’s up to that challenge,’’ Tom Coughlin (/t/Tom_Coughlin)said, “or any challenge.’’</p>

Manning putting the ball in the air and Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks (/t/Hakeem_Nicks)or one of the other pass-catchers
coming down with it is the best of what the Giants have to offer, the main
reason they won the NFC East at 9-7 and live to take on the Falcons in an NFC
wild-card game at MetLife Stadium. It rained at the start of last week’s
winner-take-all clash, but that didn’t stop Manning from shredding the Cowboys
en route to a 21-0 halftime lead.
</p>“Eli has in the past thrown the ball very, very well despite any kind of
weather,’’ Coughlin said. “That’s always been an amazing thing to me.’’<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

<a href="http://www.nypost.com/blogs/giantsblog" target="_blank">UPDATES FROM

But, if it comes down to it, if the rains falls or the wind blows, if Manning
cannot get his highlight-film passing game cranked up, then how are the Giants
going to move the ball and reach the end zone and find a way to advance past the

“As a lineman that would say logically you’re gonna run the ball more and put
it on our backs,’’ guard<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Chris_Snee"> Chris Snee
</a>said. “If it comes to that it will have to be on our shoulders.’’</p>

Relying on the shoulders of the Giants offensive line has been a good-news,
bad-news proposition. They know how to protect Manning and the Giants have
rushed for 100 or more yards in four of their last five games but, stunningly,
haven’t run for more than 122 yards in any game this season. Even poor running
teams erupt once in a while, but not these Giants, who are a poor running team,
as evidenced by being ranked dead last in the league at 89.2 yards per game. The
improvement the past five games — an average of 104.4 yards — is more of a
trickle than a surge.</p>

Even though the Falcons play their home games inside the comfy Georgia Dome
their head coach, Mike Smith says “I’d say we’re a mudder team and we’re an
outdoor team.’’</p>

There won’t be any mud on the artificial surface in the Meadowlands, but it
could be wet. Forecasts indicating a 40 percent chance of rain or the
ever-popular “wintry mix’’ have been updated to a high of 43 degrees with only a
10 percent chance of rain. Coughlin says he and his staff talk about the
possible weather conditions “probably every 20 minutes’’ and does not discount
the factor the elements can be.</p>

There was a time when the worse the weather the better it was for the Giants,
who loved to pound away on the ground and preferred a slow track that put the
caution flag up on speed-oriented passing attacks. That time has come and

“I hope that we can run the ball this week,’’ Manning said. “I hope that our
defense can play great football. That’s what you want to do, especially when you
get late in the season — it’s cold, especially if it’s nasty weather like they
say we might have. Are we going to have to throw the ball successfully? Yes, but
you have to understand the circumstances and we have to find a way to find
completions, be smart with the ball and when there are opportunities, hit a
couple of big plays. Hopefully we can do that.’’ Read more...
</p></div>GIANTS TE BALLARD COULD BE BACK TO FACE FALCONS (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/te_ballard_could_be_back_for_wild_vZ9mrJbRQhCsKLF6 n9GVaM)

Excerpt: "Giants tight end<a class="topiclink" href="/t/Jake_Ballard"> Jake Ballard
</a>is “glad I’m being rushed,’’ because he knows that feeling is preferable to
having all the time he needs for his right knee to heal.<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

“I’m glad the team got it done,’’ Ballard said.</p>

Ballard sat out the last two games of the regular season and if the Giants
did not beat the Jets and Cowboys he would have had no game to rush back for.

“Sitting out the last two weeks killed me,’’ he said. “It’s the kind of stuff
you look forward to all your life and I had to sit and watch.’’</p>

The days of watching are nearing an end, Ballard hopes. The Giants tight end
yesterday was able to practice on a limited basis, taking part in individual
drills and even taking a few reps in the team periods. Ballard has been
sidelined with a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee,
an injury that usually takes at least 2-3 weeks to mend. Ballard was not able to
run with any stability last week and the thought this week was that he might
have to miss another game, because the knee was not strong enough to withstand
the pounding in a game."
</p>GIANTS' WR MANNINGHAM ISN'T ON INJURY REPORT (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/manningham_knee_feeling_all_right_V2czhuArPLNos9oX cNKnhP)

Excerpt: "Mario Manningham does not appear on the injury report this week, a strong
indication he is feeling better after battling a sore and swollen knee
throughout the second half of the season. <div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

The Giants wide receiver missed three games with the injury but returned last
week against the Cowboys. He did not catch a pass and did not have a single pass
thrown his way, though he said, "I felt great." </p>

Manningham said he did not know why he was not involved in the passing
attack. </p>

"I feel like I got open," he said. "I know I got open."
</p>Asked if it is frustrating to get shut out, Manningham said, "It is, but we
won so it doesn't really matter. Can't do nothing but continue to keep getting
open. Whatever happens, happens. I'm ready for whatever." <div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

Asked if he is part of the game plan for Sunday's playoff game against the
Falcons, Manningham, who is set to become a free agent after the season, said,
"I don't know."
</p></div></div>[url="http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/cruz_shows_all_the_right_moves_Hd756MMBKci3WvaLn57 dSL"]GIANTS' WR CRUZ LOVING LIMELIGHT (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/te_ballard_could_be_back_for_wild_vZ9mrJbRQhCsKLF6 n9GVaM#ixzz1iak7dWwk)

Excerpt: "Victor Cruz doesn’t make the $10 million a year that Santonio Holmes makes
with the Jets — Cruz makes just $450,000. He wasn’t a first-round draft choice
out of Ohio State as Holmes was, just a free agent from that UMass football
factory. He isn’t a nightmare for his quarterback the way Holmes is, to the
contrary ... <div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

Victor Cruz is a dream.</p>

It turns out that the true Dream Team in the NFL this season was not the
Eagles. It is Eli Manning teaming with Victor Cruz — the quarterback from
football royalty throwing to the salsa-dancing phenom who is inspiration for
underdogs everywhere.</p>
<div style="BORDER-BOTTOM: medium none; TEXT-ALIGN: left; BORDER-LEFT: medium none; BACKGROUND-COLOR: #ffffff; COLOR: #000000; OVERFLOW: hidden; BORDER-TOP: medium none; BORDER-RIGHT: medium none; TEXT-DECORATION: none">

The quarterback whose famous father, Archie, learned when he was 19 that his
father had committed suicide, throwing to the 25-year-old wunderkind from
Paterson, N.J., who learned when he was 21 that his father had committed

Manning: 29 TD passes, 4,933 yards.</p>

Cruz: nine TD catches, 1,536 yards.</p>

Dream Team.</p>

And Cruz isn’t afraid to pinch himself.</p>

“Nah, I kinda do it every morning when I’m brushing my teeth. I’m looking at
myself and I’m just like, ‘Man, you play for the Giants! And you’re about to go
drive right around the corner and go to practice.’ So it’s like ... it’s crazy,”
Cruz said.</p>

The Falcons are next when the playoffs begin Sunday, and New York will expect
Cruz to once again be what Wes Welker, once an afterthought, has become for Tom
Brady. Cruz is the talk of the town — who does not feel like the star that he
has become.</p>

“Not really ... not really. I just go in there and just do what I have to do
on a weekly basis, man,” Cruz said. “I don’t feel like I’m a star, I don’t feel
like I have to do anything extra. I just try and go in there and play my game
and take the defense as it comes and just remain myself. I don’t feel like
necessarily a star just yet.”</p>

Even though the Garden crowd at the Knicks game Monday night implored him to
do his end zone salsa.</p>

“Very true, very true,” Cruz said, and smiled his million-dollar smile. “That
was mostly Antrel [Rolle]. Antrel grabbed my arm and forced me to get up and do
it for the people. His story behind it is, ‘You gotta give the people what they
want.’ ”</p>

The people who cheer his name — Cruuuuuuz — at MetLife Stadium.</p>

“It’s amazing, man,” Cruz said. “It’s something you dream of when you grow up
and you hear all the chants that different stadiums have for different people.
For me to have one in New York, it’s just a surreal feeling. I get goose bumps
every time I hear it."
</p>FALCONS' LENEMEN FIRE BACK AT GIANTS' TUCK (http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/giantsblog/falcons_lineman_fire_back_at_giants_b0d1idujono2dY BmQL9kjP)
Excerpt: "Justin Tuck might think they're "dirtbags" for their style of play, but the
Falcons' offensive line are offering no apologies.<div>

Atlanta tackles Will Svitek and Tyson Clabo defended themselves Wednesday
after Tuck -- who they face Sunday when the Giants play host to an NFC wild-card
game at MetLife Stadium -- became the latest NFL defensive lineman to accuse the
Falcons of crossing the line with their tactics by claiming "most people would
say they are dirtbags."</p>

"That's his point of view," Svitek said. "If he views us as cheap, then so be
it. We're going to do what we do. We take pride in being physical. You don't
want to be viewed as soft. We're always going to be there, and we want them to
know we're there."</p>

The Falcons' linemen are in the crosshairs -- even the suspended Ndamukong
Suh called them dirty -- because their favored approach is cut blocking, or
going low to take out a defender's legs. It's legal but can lead to a serious
injury when not done properly.</p>

If that's dirty, Svitek said, then so be it.</p>

"We cut like everybody else," he said. "That's not illegal, and we don't get
fined. We're not trying to hurt anybody. Diving at people's legs is just part of
the game. It's not done in a cheap way."</p>

Clabo, who spent a couple of weeks on the Giants' practice squad in 2004,
echoed Svitek and added that the other accusation against Atlanta's linemen --
that they flop at the end of plays in order to get retaliation penalties on
defenders -- is equally undeserved."
</p></div>GIANTS FROM BOSTON COLLEGE RATE FALCONS' QB (http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/giants/ice_in_matty_veins_32HHJCojajh7sdUPkY8omO)

"Even as a redshirt freshman running the scout team at Boston College, Matt Ryan (../t/Matt_Ryan)stood out to his teammates.

“You could kind of tell then that he had that special quality,” said Giants
guard Chris Snee, one of those BC teammates. “He ran the scout team against our
defense, and they called him ‘Matty Ice’ ... that’s when he got that nickname in
college. He’s a heck of a quarterback.” </p>

Snee, who will face the Falcons quarterback Sunday in their NFC Wild Card
playoff game at MetLife Stadium, said Ryan stood out because of his immediate
presence. </p>

“As a freshman, you’re kind of feeling everyone out, but he stepped right and
took command of the scout team huddle, and really just approached it like he was
preparing for a game, which really caught the eye of the coaches,” he said. “The
rest is history.” </p>
<div id="intext_area_middle" class="intext_area narrow">
<div class="block ad wrap quigo">

Another former college teammate of Ryan’s, Giants linebacker Mathias
Kiwanuka, said he was immediately impressed by the quarterback’s play-making
ability — even in difficult situations. </p>

“He’s not afraid to make mistakes,” Kiwanuka said. “He doesn’t make a lot of
them now ... but when he was a young kid coming into BC, he’d make those
mistakes but he’d never waver.” </p>

Ryan, who was taken by the Falcons with the second overall pick in the 2008
draft, finished this season with career highs in yards (4,177), touchdowns (29)
and quarterback rating (92.2) in his fourth season.</p>

Kiwanuka said he wasn’t surprised by the success Ryan has enjoyed. </p>

“He’s a gifted, physically talented individual,” Kiwanuka said. “And he’s got
that confidence about him.” </p>

What should the Giants do to slow Ryan down? </p>

“Hit him,” Kiwanuka said, smiling. “You can be the best quarterback in the
world, but if your head’s ringing, it’s hard to throw that ball.”
</p></div><div><div><u><font size="4">THE BERGEN RECORD</font></u>
BOLEY FOCUSED ON PLAYOFF WIN, NOT REVENGE (http://www.northjersey.com/sports/pro_sports/football/136719673_Boley_focused_on_playoff_win__not_reveng e.html)

Excerpt: "Michael Boley did not forget the benching.

And the Giants linebacker did not forget how the Atlanta Falcons made it
clear after the 2008 season that they did not want him back when he became a
free agent.</p>

But he says those old wounds won’t be a factor Sunday when the Giants host
the Falcons in their playoff game.</p>

"I’m in a better situation. Looking back, I can’t even think of a place I’d
rather be right now," Boley said. "When free agency started and they said the
Giants wer

01-05-2012, 10:30 AM
Thanks for all the news RF.

01-05-2012, 10:32 AM

one day closer.....</P>

01-05-2012, 11:15 AM
In truth, the Atlanta Falcons tight end wanted to be in New York. When his time with the Kansas City Chiefs ran its course in 2008, the 12-time Pro Bowler directed his efforts toward the most attractive offense on the board. </P>

He wanted to play with Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs. He wanted to gel with a group of proven wideouts. He wanted to go to the Super Bowl, which the Giants had won the year before. </P>

“I think about it all the time,” Gonzalez said at his locker today. “I was pushing for that, too. But it didn’t happen; I think they thought I was too old back then.”</P>

Wow. Imagine what could of been. What kind of money did Gonzo get from Atl in 08?</P>

01-05-2012, 11:39 AM
Thanks Rf! 3 Days till showtime.

01-05-2012, 12:14 PM
Thanks for all the news RF.

You are very welcome

01-05-2012, 12:15 PM

one day closer.....</p>

+1 And one game closer to the brass ring!

01-05-2012, 12:16 PM
In truth, the Atlanta Falcons tight end wanted to be in New York. When his time with the Kansas City Chiefs ran its course in 2008, the 12-time Pro Bowler directed his efforts toward the most attractive offense on the board. </p>

He wanted to play with Eli Manning and Brandon Jacobs. He wanted to gel with a group of proven wideouts. He wanted to go to the Super Bowl, which the Giants had won the year before. </p>

“I think about it all the time,” Gonzalez said at his locker today. “I was pushing for that, too. But it didn’t happen; I think they thought I was too old back then.”</p>

Wow. Imagine what could of been. What kind of money did Gonzo get from Atl in 08?</p>

It's a moot point, look forward!!

01-05-2012, 01:26 PM
The article on Coughlin's speech deserves it's own thread.

Clear proof why he needs to return as the head coach next season....the dude knows how to get his players focused on the big picture

01-05-2012, 01:39 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</P>

lets go G-Men, keep the pressure on! [Y]</P>

01-05-2012, 02:45 PM
thanks Roanoke! [B]</p>

lets go G-Men, keep the pressure on! [Y]</p>