"Name, school and signing bonus, son. Then sing," said linebacker
Brandon Short, pointing to the team's top draft choice on his
first day in training camp. The legend of Jeremy Shockey was
about to be born.
It's customary for veterans to demand that rookies sing their
college fight song upon their arrival at camp. Shockey, the No.
14 pick, out of Miami, knew it was coming, but he wasn't happy
about the timing. He hadn't gone to bed the previous night
because of an all-night trip from Miami to the team's camp in
Albany, N.Y., and he hadn't had a meal all day--and it was
dinnertime. Shockey wanted to eat first, but Short was
insistent. "Name, school, signing bonus, song. Now!" So the
6'5", 263-pound rookie tight end stood up in the cafeteria and
said, "Jeremy Shockey, Miami Hurricanes, $3.3 million...."
"Can't hear you! What?" Short yelled.
Shockey said it once more, but Short hollered for him to repeat
it again. Shockey did so, then sang the Hurricanes' fight song
and ended by staring at Short and saying, "That's for you and
your hearing problem, B. Short." A rook mouthing off to a vet?
Intolerable. Short flew at Shockey. A five-second brawl ensued.
As the blond, mop-topped Shockey sat in the weight room two weeks
later, he smiled mischievously and said, "They haven't pushed me
around since then."
Shockey's arrival bodes well for an offense that has been
anything but macho in recent years--not with bookish Kerry
Collins at quarterback, large-but-soft Ron Dayne at running back
and a line that wasn't feisty. In the first preseason game,
against the Texans, Shockey ran a crossing pattern, caught the
pass from backup quarterback Jesse Palmer, broke one tackle,
escaped an attempt to bring him down by his face mask, bowled
over a third defender and dragged a fourth five yards before
going down. The Giants' defense was so unaccustomed to seeing
that sort of effort that a couple of vets danced with glee.
Short even bounded over to coach Jim Fassel and said, "You see
that, Coach? He leveled those s.o.b.'s!"
"We did not draft a tight end," general manager Ernie Accorsi
says. "We drafted a playmaker."
Now, instead of dumping the ball to a plodding fullback or an
overused Tiki Barber, Collins has a threat in midrange patterns.
Shockey can run after the catch as well as any other NFC tight
end. That's huge for a team that had just 17 tight end receptions
last season, the lowest production of any team at that position.
Fassel is excited about the strategic options Shockey gives the
team, but he's just as happy to have a player this competitive.
"His competitiveness will separate him from other great players,"
"I always was a pretty competitive guy," Shockey says, "but when
I spent a year in junior college, I took it to another level. I
mean, junior college football is 120, 130 guys trying to make a
name for themselves. It's like prison rules, man. We'd have 10
fights in one day--on the field, in the dorm, in the cafeteria.
When I got to Miami, it was drilled into us that one slipup on
one Saturday could cost us the national championship. So if guys
were laying out of practice during the week or we weren't
practicing hard, I'd give somebody on defense a stiff arm, just
to start something and get the tempo right."
No Giants player was more beloved over the past two decades than
tight end Mark Bavaro. While Shockey is a more versatile receiver
than Bavaro, the rookie is not the blocker that Bavaro was. Not
yet. Shockey will also have to get used to getting roughed up in
the five-yard bump zone because he'll be the most dangerous
weapon in the passing game from Week 1. "I don't want to sound
arrogant," he says, "but the defense might shut me down on one or
two out of five plays, but I'll make them pay eventually. I live
every day to compete in this league. I can't wait."
Neither can Giants fans. --P.K.
COLOR PHOTO: MARK DUNCAN/AP With his power and competitiveness, Shockey brings the Giants new options.
COLOR PHOTO: NFL PHOTOS DARYL JONES
The volume's lower and the playbook thinner since defensive
coordinator John Fox left to become coach of the Panthers. Coach
Jim Fassel believes that Fox's schemes had players reading too
much and reacting late; new coordinator Johnnie Lynn, the former
secondary coach, has simplified things so defenders can make
plays more instinctively.
ENEMY LINES an opposing team's scout sizes up the Giants
Kerry Collins is a functional quarterback, but if the coaches
don't stay on top of him, he gets lazy with his mechanics....
Jeremy Shockey gives them the best upgrade at a skill position
of any team in the league, better than Ricky Williams in
Miami.... I know it's tempting to ride Tiki Barber because he's
their only reliable back, but he'll wear down.... Ike Hilliard
plays tentatively, like he doesn't want to be out there.... The
offensive line's the real key. Can line coach Jim McNally make
chicken salad out of chicken feathers? Given that his best
lineman is Luke Petitgout, a functional guy who can be
overpowered, McNally's got his work cut out for him.... I'm
impressed with their defensive front seven, which gets a lot of
push. Cornelius Griffin looks like he's playing better, and he's
vital to stopping the run.... With all the attention paid to end
Michael Strahan, it'll be a disgrace if Kenny Holmes doesn't get
double-digit sacks.... I think that Will Peterson and Will Allen
are better right now and will be better all year than Jason
Sehorn, who last year looked like he just didn't want to hit
anybody.... They'll have a big hole opposite Shaun Williams if
they're serious about playing Omar Stoutmire at the other
safety.... If he holds up, Daryl Jones could give them a
consistent threat in the return game. He's a tough kid, kind of
a Mighty Mouse."
Sept. 5 SAN FRANCISCO (Thur.)
15 at St. Louis
29 at Arizona
Oct. 6 at Dallas
20 Open date
28 at Philadelphia (Mon.)
Nov. 3 JACKSONVILLE
10 at Minnesota
24 at Houston
Dec. 1 TENNESSEE
8 at Washington
22 at Indianapolis
28 PHILADELPHIA (Sat.)
NFL rank: T13
Opponents' 2001 winning percentage: .504
Games against playoff teams: 4
PROJECTED LINEUP with 2001 statistics
COACH: Jim Fassel; sixth season with New York (44-35-1 in NFL)
2001 RECORD: 7-9 (third in NFC East)
NFL RANK (rush/pass/total): offense 15/T8/9; defense 8/21/14
OFFENSIVE BACKS PVR*
QB Kerry Collins 72
568 att. 327 comp. 57.6% 3,764 yds. 19 TDs 16 int. 77.1 rtg.
RB Tiki Barber 62
166 att. 865 yds. 5.2 avg. 72 rec. 577 yds. 8.0 avg. 4 TDs
RB Ron Dayne 120
180 att. 690 yds. 3.8 avg. 8 rec. 67 yds. 8.4 avg. 7 TDs
FB Charles Stackhouse (R) [N] 332
75 att. 330 yds. 4.4 avg. 21 rec. 172 yds. 8.2 avg. 7 TDs
RECEIVERS, SPECIALISTS, OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
WR Amani Toomer 80 72 rec. 1,054 yds. 5 TDs
WR Ike Hilliard 145 52 rec. 659 yds. 6 TDs
WR Ron Dixon 256 8 rec. 227 yds. 1 TD
TE Jeremy Shockey (R)[N] 59 40 rec. 519 yds. 7 TDs
K Owen Pochman 371 0/0 XPs 0/2 FGs 0 pts.
PR Daryl Jones (R)[N] 323 4 ret. 5.0 avg. 0 TDs
KR Ron Dixon 256 34 ret. 19.0 avg. 0 TDs
LT Luke Petitgout 6'6" 310 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
LG Rich Seubert 6'5" 305 lbs. 2 games 0 starts
C Dusty Zeigler 6'5" 303 lbs. 16 games 16 starts
RG Jason Whittle 6'4" 310 lbs. 16 games 2 starts
RT Chris Bober 6'5" 305 lbs. 16 games 0 starts
LE Michael Strahan 60 tackles 22 1/2 sacks
LT Cornelius Griffin 47 tackles 2 1/2 sacks
RT Keith Hamilton 19 tackles 6 sacks
RE Kenny Holmes 37 tackles 3 1/2 sacks
OLB Dhani Jones 20 tackles 0 sacks
MLB Mike Barrow 88 tackles 6 sacks
OLB Brandon Short 45 tackles 1 sack
CB Will Allen 41 tackles 4 int.
SS Shaun Williams 77 tackles 3 int.
FS Omar Stoutmire 14 tackles 0 int.
CB Jason Sehorn 56 tackles 3 int.
P Rodney Williams 91 punts 42.9 avg.
[N] New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 98)
"Jones could give them a consistent threat in the return game.
He's a tough kid, a Mighty Mouse."