Every team is a Super Bowl contender during training camp, at least that's what the local media in each NFL town seems to think. Puff pieces about teams/players/coaches often read something like, "[Player X] is poised to have a career year because he's getting over [ailment/personal tragedy/weight issues/immaturity]. He will have a key role in [Team Y] making [playoffs/Super Bowl] after last season's [surprise/disappointment]."
To celebrate the brimming positivity being felt by each of the NFL's 32 fanbases, this month Shutdown Corner will take a team-by-team look at the flowery and buoyant prose being written by local columnists and writers and the hopeful quotes of players and coaches in our daily feature, Camp Sunshine. Today, the New York Giants.
This new, off-beat training drill is sure to change things around!
During the Giants' first practice of the 2010 season, new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell had his defense play a game of "Hot Potato."
The game was a hit, with players tossing the football around as quickly as they could in a circle without dropping it. The defensive players were animated, laughing and rooting one another on.
This season, Fewell will run his defensive ends through another traditional children's party game: musical chairs.
The Giants have five capable defensive ends, including three who would start on most teams in the NFL. Fewell has been hired not only to restore the Giants' once-intimidating defense, but also to revive the pass rush while keeping his stable of defensive ends happy and active.
-- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPNNewYork.com. (Predictably, there's not a lot of Camp Sunshine stuff in the New York tabloids, so we had to look in national media. The Daily News has already basically thrown in the towel on the season. I love New York.)
Player seeing the light: Justin Tuck
"Not being healthy was a big problem for Tuck last season. A shoulder injury suffered when then-Cowboys offensive tackle Flozell Adams(notes) tripped him hampered him all season and prevented him from returning to the Pro Bowl form he displayed in 2008.
So if he wasn't making plays, Tuck couldn't bring himself to tell others to make plays.
But heading into this season, Tuck had extensive conversations with Coughlin, former teammate Michael Strahan(notes) and a few others about being a leader for a team that badly needed one late last season."
Overly optimistic quote (player edition):
"On a lot of [last year's runs], if I just get my knee up and come through, I'm at 1,400, 1,500 yards."
Semi-optimistic quote (coach edition):
"I like the attitude. I like the resolve. Our offseason program was really outstanding. Everybody was in attendance. So I know that the players are very, very upset about the past. I don't want to talk about the past. I don't want to get into that part of it. But I do know there is resolve. There is determination. The attitude and the work ethic in the spring was very good. Progress is there to be made. We have fortified ourselves in some key positions, and I really feel we're all excited about getting going."
-- Tom Coughlin, not the most sunshine-filled coach, on his team's attitude headed into the season.
The party pooper:
"As [general manager Jerry] Reese knows, last year's team stumbled from a 5-0 start to an 8-8 finish, leaving an aftertaste that team owner John Mara famously said 'felt a lot more like 2-14 to me.' Yet the team that arrives at the University at Albany for the start of training camp Sunday doesn't look much different from the one that was shelled 85-18 over the final two games of last season."