General manager Ernie Accorsi saw a glaring weakness on the 2002
Giants--special teams--so he tried to fix it in the off-season.
He spent $4.4 million in 2003 bonus money and salaries to sign
three free-agent kicking-team specialists: long snapper Ryan
Kuehl, kicker Mike Hollis and punter Jeff Feagles. Five weeks
into the season Accorsi's best-laid plans were in tatters. Based
on recent history, that should figure. "It's become like the
Curse of the Bambino," Accorsi said last Friday. "You don't want
to talk about it. You're afraid of feeding it more."

Having blown through eight long snappers in the preseason and
regular season last year, New York lured Kuehl from the Browns
with a $325,000 signing bonus. But after Dan O'Leary, the other
long snapper in camp this summer, was injured, Kuehl was
overworked and suffered nerve damage to his left elbow. He went
on injured reserve on Aug. 30. Now the job belongs to Carson
Dach, who was picked up on waivers. He's the Giants' 13th long
snapper in 13 months.

Since August 2002 the Giants have had six holders. This season
Feagles filled the role until he was pressed into emergency field
goal duty after kicker Matt Bryant injured his hamstring on Oct.
5. Backup quarterback Jesse Palmer took over as holder.

New York has had four kickers in the last two seasons. Hollis was
felled by a back injury in camp and put on injured reserve in
late August. Bryant started the season as the kicker, but after
he got hurt, New York had to sign Brett Conway on Oct. 7. On
Sunday in a 17-6 loss to the Patriots, Conway converted field
goal attempts from 22 and 34 yards, but missed from 47 and 49.

"After Ryan Kuehl got here, I told him how much better I sleep at
night," Accorsi says. "I've learned you can't even sleep when you
think you can."

COLOR PHOTO: KATHY WILLENS/AP Bryant was the latest Giants specialist to be sidelined.

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