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Friday, January 05, 2007

Giants Playoff coverage#2

NY Times Reporter David Picker tells us the difference between Vishante Shiancoe and Jeremey Shockey

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., Jan. 4 — There is nothing subtle about Jeremy Shockey. His hair is surfer-dude blond, his arms are emblazoned with tattoos, and he barks at opponents and officials when things do not bounce his way.
Shockey’s teammates would not change him one bit.
“He’s our emotional leader,” center Shaun O’Hara said before practice Thursday. “Sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. But you know you’re going to get the same thing from him every time, and I love him for it. I wouldn’t want anybody else out there.”
There is a chance the Giants will have to play with the backup tight end Visanthe Shiancoe instead of Shockey in Sunday’s wild-card game in Philadelphia. Shockey, who practiced Thursday for the first time since injuring his left ankle against the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 24, was listed as questionable. Coach Tom Coughlin said Shockey was making progress.
When Shiancoe has started in place of Shockey, the Giants’ offense has changed considerably. Shiancoe is widely regarded as a blocking tight end; Shockey led the team this season with 66 receptions.
But in terms of confidence and self-promotion, Shiancoe and Shockey appear to be on equal footing.
“Look, man, I’m 6-5, 255 pounds,” said Shiancoe, who is listed as 6-4 and 250 pounds in the Giants’ media guide. “I run a 4.5. I’m strong as — excuse me — hell. So I can basically do anything the coaches tell me to do, and they know that.”
He added, “If Shockey is not able to go, of course I could get 100 yards.”
That would be a first. Shiancoe had a career-high 12 catches this season for 81 yards and no touchdowns. He has never caught a pass longer than 17 yards in his career.
But Shiancoe might be a better blocker than Shockey, who was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl this season. And he certainly seems to be more durable. Shiancoe has played in every game since being drafted by the Giants in the third round in 2003, while Shockey has missed 11 games in five seasons.
The swollen ankle forced Shockey to miss last Saturday’s regular-season finale in Washington.
“I just felt like I couldn’t compete as hard as Visanthe Shiancoe and the other guys,” Shockey said Wednesday when asked about not playing against the Redskins. “They got an opportunity and they did very well.”
Shiancoe started in Washington and had 1 reception for 8 yards in the Giants’ 34-28 victory. Tiki Barber rushed for a club-record 234 yards on 23 carries. Coincidence? Shiancoe said he did not think so, and he may have had a point. The Giants appeared to stick with the running game longer than they would have had Shockey been available.
The Giants also did not miss a beat when Shockey was limited by an injured right ankle at the start of the season. They won six of their first eight games with Shiancoe occasionally filling in. With Shockey sidelined in the overtime of the Giants’ 30-24 victory in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, Shiancoe wrested away a 9-yard pass from safety Brian Dawkins, sustaining the game-winning drive.
But Shockey is clearly a better fit in the offense. When Barber was asked Tuesday about the impact Shockey’s absence had in Washington, he said: “We were forced to run the ball. It hurts our intermediate pass game, and this is not a slight on Shiancoe at all. But he’s inexperienced in there.”
Barber, who ran for touchdowns of 15, 55 and 50 yards against the Redskins, added that Shiancoe was a good blocker.
“I try to maul people, man,” Shiancoe said about the subtleties of blocking. “Tiki’s all over the place, man. You don’t know where he’s going to go. And usually, for some reason, he follows behind me.”
Even if Shockey is healthy enough to play Sunday, Shiancoe will likely work up a sweat. He started three games in which the Giants opened with dual tight-end sets, and he is a fixture on special teams, playing on most kickoff returns and field-goal attempts.
But if Shockey is on the field, Shiancoe’s role will be limited at best. Still, he insisted he was not bothered by being overshadowed by Shockey.
“Everyone thinks that they’re starters,” Shiancoe said. “Nobody wants their whole career to not be really a strong part of the offense. But it’s my role here — the backup tight end.”


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