On the campus of the University at Albany, which might not technically qualify as sprawling, but starts to seem that way when you have to make the 15-minute walk between the Giants' practice field and media center five times in a single day, as did this car-less reporter. Still, it's hard not to get caught up in the good cheer that imbues Giants camp this year, in the wake of their stunning Super Bowl triumph. "I've never been thanked more in my life," says center
Still, the Giants say they're well aware of the possibility of a Super Bowl hangover, especially as the franchise missed the playoffs the season following each of its previous two championships. Says O'Hara, "The atmosphere's different, but we're still here in Albany for one reason: To put our noses to the grindstone and go to work."
Not many to choose from here, as the veteran safety Knight, who is tied with
A 10-6 record is a definite possibility. I believe the Giants will go 3-3 in the NFC East (sweeping the Eagles, splitting with the Redskins, and dropping both games to the Cowboys), as they did last season, and will then beat up on a relatively weak slate of non-divisional opponents. The only true tests appear to be road games against the Browns (Week 6), Steelers (Week 8) and Vikings (Week 17). New York could lose that Browns game and still start the season 5-1 -- with wins over the Redskins, Rams, Bengals, Seahawks and 49ers. It's not too far from there to a Wild Card berth (I expect the Cowboys to repeat as NFC East champs), and we all know what can happen if this team gets hot in the playoffs.
Defensive end-turned-SAM linebacker Kiwanuka flew around the practice field, looking both faster and more muscular than ever, eight months after fracturing his left fibula in last season's tenth game. At one point, the 6'5", 265 Kiwanuka knocked down a pass 35 yards down the field. Kiwi admits to being a little stiff at linebacker at the beginning of last season but was really starting to get the hang of it when he snapped his leg. He spent his recovery time watching film to get the position down cold, and it looks as if it's paid off: Coughlin has singled him out for praise after several sessions already, and he's been one of the best players on the practice field. "I knew it was going to be a matter of time before I got to this point," says the ever-thoughtful Kiwanuka, "but now I'm feeling comfortable in practice, and the next step is transferring that to the game."
• The otherwise nondescript wide receiver
• I see where SI's fantasy guru,
• Last summer the team wore shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "TALK IS CHEAP -- PLAY THE GAME," in reference to the various contretemps that had distracted them over the previous months. I'm not sure if they had new shirts made up this year, but in any event, team PR guru
• I can't believe I've gotten this far into a Giants postcard without typing the names "
• One more sign of how chilled out Coughlin has gotten? In 85-degree heat the other day, the president of the University at Albany extended Coughlin's press conference by several minutes in order to present him with a gift from the school: A sculpture of a Great Dane (the University's mascot), about 4 inches in height. It was the work of a person whom the president assured Coughlin to be a "world famous animal sculptress." Coughlin couldn't have looked more delighted.