Jerry Reese Making No Guarantees For 2012
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese isn’t making any guarantees about either winning another Super Bowl or starting the next NFL dynasty.
Reese likes the Giants’ roster that he kept mostly intact in the offseason and he believes Tom Coughlin’s team has as good a chance as anybody at getting to New Orleans for another shot at the Super Bowl.
Even after winning the title, Reese joked he still gets complaints from fans.
“I guarantee there will not be a guarantee,” Reese said Saturday in a roughly 20-minute state of the team discussion with reporters on the second day of training camp at the University at Albany.
Reese senses no Super Bowl hangover for this team. He believes Eli Manning is getting better and he thinks salsa-dancing receiver Victor Cruz’s contract issue — it runs out after this season — will work itself He also wants injury-plagued cornerback Prince Amukamara, the team’s top draft pick last season, to start playing like a first-round pick.
“I think it’s a good roster,” said Reese, who has led the Giants to two Super Bowls titles in the last five seasons. “I think it’s a really good roster. It’s yet to be seen how good we can be. I really like the roster. I think we can be strong. I think we can be good again. But you have to do it. You can’t talk about it. You have to go out there and do it. That’s what’s important to us is to go out and prove that we are a good football team and we’re going to challenge and have a chance to win a lot of games this season.
“Hopefully, we can qualify for the tournament and then, if you get in the tournament, like always, anything can happen,” Reese added.
That’s exactly what happened last season. The Giants won their final two regular-season games to win the NFC East and then swept through the playoffs, knocking off Atlanta, defending champion Green Bay, San Francisco and New England once again in the Super Bowl.
The offseason didn’t last long for Reese. He re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas, punter Steve Weatherford, linebacker Chase Blackburn, defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, finally re-worked defensive end Osi Umenyiora’s contact, acquired linebacker Keith Rivers in a trade and signed some functional free agents, led by tight end Martellus Bennett and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers.
Running back Brandon Jacobs, tackle Kareem McKenzie, defensive lineman Dave Tollefson and receiver Mario Manningham were the major free agent losses.
“Obviously there have been some changes,” Reese said. “But I think they’re good changes and this team, like all teams, has to jell, get some continuity with each other. We have a good nucleus of players coming back, so we feel good with where we’re at. It’s all quiet right now.”
Quiet might be the best word to describe camp.
Unlike the Jets who have the Tim Tebow-mania every day, the Giants easily could be mistaken for an also-ran from last season.
There is no bickering or yapping. No boasting about being No.1. It’s just nose-to-the grindstone work. Saturday was a two-hour practice with the final 30 minutes conducted in the rain.
“Quiet is OK,” Reese said. “But it doesn’t bother me to have a little chatter going into training camp. Actually I kind of like it a little bit. When there’s a little bit of chatter and if it’s rocky a little bit. It keeps everybody on edge a little bit and actually I have a little bit of nervous energy because it’s too quiet. But I’m sure something will pop up sooner than later.”
Last season was dominated by Manning. He said he felt he was an elite quarterback at the start of the season and it hounded him all year, until he proved it by winning the Super Bowl MVP for the second time.
“We think Eli has been a tremendous quarterback for a long time,” Reese said. “Again, it’s a nice thing for media guys to talk about. In our eyes, Eli has been a really good player for a long time and it’s very comforting to have him. Last year, I said he was still in his wheelhouse. He is an ascending player. I still believe that. He hasn’t leveled off. He can still improve and he wants to improve. That’s the thing about him that we love.”
Manning set a franchise record for passing yards with Cruz emerging out of nowhere to set a single-season record, gaining 1,536 yards on 82 catches.
“It could happen,” Reese said when asked if he felt Cruz would get a new deal. “All those options are open. I just think Victor is focused on being a good football player again. The contract situation will take care of itself.”
Reese made it clear that he wants more from Amukamara, who was sidelined for the first half of the season after breaking his foot in training camp. He returned in the second half but struggled.
“I expect Prince to play like a first round draft pick,” Reese said. “That’s pretty cut and dried for me.”
Reese also believes running back David Wilson, the first round pick this year, will add some pop to the running game, However, he need to show he won’t lose the ball and that he can block on passing plays.
The Giants have one of the toughest schedules in the league this season and Reese admits it will be a test.
And if the Giants do make it two in a row, there is bound to be talk of a dynasty.
“I just think that’s a nice word for you guys to play around with,” Reese said. “You could stretch it a lot of different ways. But dynasty, I don’t really know what is a dynasty. What’s a dynasty? I’m not really sure what that means. I think the teams are so evenly matched these days it’s hard for a team to quote “be a dynasty.” So it’s good to be able to talk about the d-word, but you know, you’ve got to get out there and play.”
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