Coughlin begins Giants shakeup

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Associated Press

Giving second-round draft pick Chris Snee a starting job on the New York Giants' offensive line has been a move expected from new coach Tom Coughlin.

Having starters Tiki Barber and Amani Toomer as potential punt returners for the preseason opener against Kansas City was a switch almost no one anticipated.

Email newsletter signup

Coughlin made both moves on Monday, shifting David Diehl to right tackle and giving Snee, his son-in-law, the open spot at right guard. The change put Ian Allen, who started 11 games at right tackle last season, in a backup role and makes Snee a starter before Eli Manning, the first pick in last April's draft, who is trying to beat out veteran Kurt Warner at quarterback.

The move that seemed to catch the players off guard was the decision to waive return man Delvin Joyce. It left Barber and Toomer as the leading candidates to return punts on Friday against the Chiefs.

Barber and Toomer were stunned.

''I was surprised they let Delvin go, but whatever it takes for this team to win, I'll do,'' said Barber, who was the Giants' punt returner from 1999-2001, returning one for a touchdown.

Toomer, who has had five straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons, chose his words carefully. He began as a punt returner, returning three for TDs in two seasons. But he has had only nine regular-season returns since 1999.

Rookie receiver Jamaar Taylor is a candidate to return punts, but the sixth-round draft pick is a question mark because he is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery.

The shakeup on the offensive line was not a surprise.

Diehl, who started every game as a rookie at right guard, shared work with Allen at right tackle last week. That allowed Snee to get snaps at right guard.

''It's something I was prepared for,'' said Diehl, who played both tackle and guard in college at Illinois. ''It's something I have continued to work on the past year and half. Even last year, I took tackle reps so I would not get rusty.''



Miami linebacker Zach Thomas practiced for the first time since training camp opened. Thomas, who led the Dolphins in tackles seven of the past eight seasons, had surgery a month ago to repair torn cartilage in his left knee.

Receiver Derrius Thompson, safety Chris Akins (leg) and cornerbacks Patrick Surtain (groin) and Sam Madison (hamstring) sat out practice Monday.

Injured receiver David Boston had successful surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left knee, but he'll miss the entire season.



A second opinion confirmed that linebacker Peter Sirmon will need season-ending surgery to repair his injured left knee. Sirmon, the starter for the Titans at left outside linebacker the past two seasons, hurt his knee during a non-contact drill a week ago.



The Chargers broke off talks with unsigned quarterback Philip Rivers.

Rivers, chosen by the Giants with the No. 4 pick in the draft, was acquired by the Chargers in the deal that sent quarterback Eli Manning to New York.

''This is very disappointing and unfortunate,'' Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Monday. ''We wanted to get him signed before the reporting date, we made an effort. We tried, and we couldn't come to an agreement. He had an offer until 5 p.m. Sunday. That was rejected, and now the offer is off the table. It will only go down from here.''

Smith said the Chargers' proposal wasn't a slot offer and exceeds the deals for Robert Gallery and Larry Fitzgerald, who were selected with the second and third overall picks.



The Carolina Panthers' unsettled offensive line took another hit Monday when projected starting right tackle Adam Meadows abruptly retired.

The 30-year-old signed a five-year, $15 million contract with the Panthers as a free agent March 9, but was kept out of most of training camp by persistent shoulder problems. The team encouraged Meadows to undergo treatment for arthritis in the shoulder, but Meadows decided to call it quits.

Meadows, who spent his first eight seasons with Indianapolis, agreed to pay back his entire $2.5 million signing bonus, general manager Marty Hurney said.



Keyshawn Johnson was late returning to the Cowboys camp in Oxnard, Calif., after some time off.

Coach Bill Parcells said Monday that only one player was late in returning, but wouldn't say who it was. Johnson confessed to reporters, just like he had to the coaches.

Johnson said he expected to be fined about $7,500. He said he didn't even try to sneak back into camp Sunday afternoon.

''No, I wouldn't do that. I called in, I knew I was going to be late,'' Johnson said. ''What am I supposed to do? If I'm missing, you're going to notice.''

Johnson was about 15 minutes late after spending the day in nearby Santa Barbara, where his kids took part in a basketball camp with Michael Jordan.



Wide receiver Jimmy Smith missed practice Monday with a minor back injury that coach Jack Del Rio said was a strain or an ache.

Smith caught 54 passes for 805 yards and four touchdowns last season despite serving a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.



Tampa Bay has had conversations with former Oakland receiver Tim Brown and the agent for holdout receiver Keenan McCardell, but neither has signed.

General manager Bruce Allen said Monday that he plans to talk to Brown again soon. Brown was released last week by Oakland and said he planned to spend the weekend weighing his options.

''I'll just let the Tim Brown situation resolve itself,'' said coach Jon Gruden, who coached Brown in Oakland.



Linebacker Napoleon Harris will be sidelined for three-to-six weeks after tearing cartilage in his right knee during a training camp drill.

Harris, who started 29 games in his first two NFL seasons, was hurt during a scrimmage in the Raiders' first practice since returning from a day off Sunday. The team was not in full pads when Harris was injured.

Harris collided with teammates while blitzing during a pass play. He fell to the ground and clutched his knee before Oakland's medical staff came over and helped him off the field.



Safeties Jon McGraw and Reggie Tongue, linebacker Eric Barton and wide receiver Santana Moss all sat out of practice Monday with varying injuries.

Tongue, a free-agent acquisition slated to start, hurt his left calf on the second day of training camp. He doesn't know whether he will be able to play in the preseason opener against New Orleans on Friday.

Safety Jarell Weaver missed the afternoon practice with a groin injury. CB Ray Mickens hurt his right knee during the afternoon practice but is fine.



Defensive end Jevon Kearse sprained his left ankle, but didn't consider the injury to be serious.

He was carted off the field after he hurt the same ankle he injured in Tennessee last season. X-rays were negative, and Kearse - listed as day to day - jogged to his car after speaking to reporters.

Kearse said he hopes to practice Tuesday and expects to play in Philadelphia's exhibition opener against New England on Friday night.

Backup quarterback Koy Detmer is expected to miss about two weeks because of a right knee injury.