WHEN TIM CARTERreported to the Giants' training camp in Albany, N.Y., and immediately begancomplaining about lingering tendinitis in his left patellar tendon, you couldalmost hear his employers groan, Here we go again. An exceptionally fastfifth-year wideout with tantalizing talent, Carter, 26, has been dogged byailments throughout his career. He has only 50 catches and one touchdown in 37games, and last season, as New York's third receiver, he was limited by a sorehip.
Yet the followingday Carter was the star of the show, making four impressive catches, includinga deep pass to end the session. Apparently competition from rookie SinoriceMoss for the No. 3 job has brought out the best in him.
After failing toland free agent Keyshawn Johnson in the off-season, the Giants re-signed Carterto a two-year, $2 million deal--but the team clearly doubted his ability tostay healthy and wanted additional firepower to complement veteran startersPlaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. New York runs a three-receiver set roughly40% of the time, and last year Eli Manning threw more passes than all but twoNFL quarterbacks. So on draft day general manager Ernie Accorsi traded up totake the 22-year-old Moss, out of Miami, in the second round. The idea ofdrafting the 5'8", 185-pound Moss seemed to have come from the difficultythe New York defense has had in trying to stop two superb NFL wideouts withsimilar builds and receiving styles: Panthers All-Pro Steve Smith and theRedskins' Santana Moss, Sinorice's older brother. "That's how it's beenever since we were kids," says Santana, 27. "On the sandlot, everybodywould pick [Sinorice] so they could beat my team."
"He's amuscular, explosive guy," Accorsi says of the younger Moss, who's beenslowed a bit by a strained quad muscle. "Tim will have to stay on the fieldto have a chance of holding him off."
The best news forthe Giants is that, at least through Sunday, both players were expected to playin the preseason opener this Friday at Baltimore. "Oooh, it's tough outhere," Burress said after a spirited morning practice. "You've got Timracing down the field and making athletic plays, and then you've got Sinoricebreaking tackles with those strong legs and threatening to go the distanceevery time. I promise you one thing: Our four-receiver set will be extremelydangerous."
GETTING JUMPY Plagued by injuries in previous seasons, Carter (left) is invigorated by the competition from Moss.