GIANTS' ROOKIE MATT MCCANTS AWAITS CHALLENGE OF FACING PRO-BOWL ENDS IN PRACTICE
"Matt McCants was enjoying the challenge of facing undrafted free agents and
tryout players looking to make an impression during the Giants’ recent rookie minicamp, all the
while realizing it was merely a warmup.
The big challenge would come when the veterans – i.e. arguably the best group
of defensive ends – begin lining up across from the rookie offensive tackle.
“That’s when it gets real,” the sixth-round
It will get real for all of the Giants’ rookies on Wednesday with the first
of the team’s 10 organized team activities. OTAs are, in essence, practices
without any pads, live contact or 1-on-1 drills.
For McCants, that means he won’t get the full brunt of rushes from Justin
Tuck or Jason Pierre-Paul. Plus, Osi Umenyiora certainly won’t be making an
appearance. But he’ll be introduced to a
work ethic in which Tuck and the rest of the Giants’ defense takes
Those guys like to hustle.
“I hustle, too,” McCants said when told of said challenge. “I hustle.”
McCants has an athletic frame and showed it during rookie camp. He was quick
into his sets and moved his feet well. He said he was comfortable with the
terminology and believes he’ll adapt well to the Giants’ system because there
are a lot of similarities in the blocking scheme to what he ran in college at
UAB under offensive coordinator Kim Helton, an NFL assistant for 12 seasons with
“Every play, I’m out there trying to go as hard as possible, picking up on
the plays as fast as possible, studying my playbook going in,” McCants said.
“That allows me to play fast. Just a willingness to learn.”
McCants figures to learn plenty of lessons from the Giants’ veteran pass
rushers in the weeks to come.
“I’ll be stepping up to the challenges and knowing what’s out there,” he
said, adding: “It’s a good challenge going against the best defensive linemen in
the league. I’m not going to do anything but get better from it.”
In addition to having to face a couple of Pro Bowl players in practice,
McCants realizes he’ll also likely receive some good-natured ribbing about his
being a tuba player in his high-school band after his mother initially forbade
him from playing football.
“I already know, man,” he said with a laugh. “It is what it is. I can’t
Nor is he ashamed of it.
During Senior Bowl week, a TV reporter asked McCants if they could get a few shots of him playing the
tuba at his old high school. He obliged.
Though he doesn’t play it much these days, McCants enjoyed his days lugging
around the largest of the brass instruments.
“It was cool,” he said. “Tuba players get a lot of love."
* * * *
There's a good column today from Gene Frenette of the Florida Times-Union,
who was covering the Jay Fund charity golf tournament, on how Tom Coughlin won't
even entertain the thought of retirement at this point. (And as Steve
Politi pointed out in January, he might not ever think that way.)
I particularly enjoyed the quote from Eli Manning in there about how Coughlin
has toned down his sideline antics.
"I think some of that comes from the fact that a few players on the Giants
have been there for seven, eight years," Manning said. "When he knows his
players are prepared to play each game, he can relax, do his job and worry about
"He's toned it down, especially from that first year in 2004. He was a wild
man on the sidelines. It was a shock for me to see, kind of out of control in a
sense. But now he's a smooth operator, and I think a lot of it is because he has
trust in his players."