Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 22 News List

New York Giants face questions over Shockey, Strahan

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

Many people in the New York Giants’ organization have had to parry questions about the futures of Jeremy Shockey and Michael Strahan. Their position coaches took turns on Tuesday answering those persistent questions, and neither provided much clarity.

Mike Pope, the tight ends’ coach, said he had not recently talked with Shockey and played down the idea that the apparent tension between Shockey and the Giants was a problem.

“It isn’t just our sport; there’s players who for whatever reason get a little unsettled,” Pope said. “This isn’t an isolated incident. It’s just what we deal with.”

Shockey has remained conspicuous by his absence since breaking his leg in December. He has been working out in sand pits in Miami to strengthen his legs, Pope said.

Drew Rosenhaus, Shockey’s agent, did not respond to a phone message seeking comment.

Shockey is a four-time Pro Bowler and a commodity for his athleticism. In the weeks leading up to the draft in April, the Giants appeared willing to unload him.

Last season, the rookie Kevin Boss replaced Shockey after Shockey was injured. Boss caught five passes in the playoffs.

Wide receiver Steve Smith said Tuesday that he and his teammates had tried to reach Shockey, but their calls have largely gone unreturned. Still, Smith noted Shockey’s value as a teammate and said he was often a mentor to younger receivers.

“I just hope he’s on our team,” said Smith, who had Thanksgiving dinner with Shockey last year.

In addressing Strahan’s future, Mike Waufle, the defensive line coach, said Strahan had been working out and that they have been in touch by phone.

Tony Agnone, Strahan’s agent, did not respond to a phone message.

Whether Strahan returns or not, the Giants are well stocked on the defensive line. Justin Tuck, Strahan’s backup, had a breakout season with 63 tackles and 10 sacks. And Mathias Kiwanuka, a linebacker who was drafted as a defensive end, could also be worked in on the line.

“I always have to prepare as if he’s not here,” Waufle said of Strahan.

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