ALBANY - That smile David Tyree has had for the last 18 months finally came off Monday.
The Super Bowl hero had been chipper ever since his iconic catch against the Patriots, even through the difficulties of missing the entire 2008 season with injuries. But when he dropped a third pass in the morning practice, his grin finally faded. Tyree slammed his fist into the ground. Then he took off his helmet, threw it onto the grass, and gave it a little kick.
"A lot of frustration," Tyree said. "I'm not happy with my performance, flat-out. I'm not ashamed to say it."
Tyree would have had difficulty making the roster with a stellar training camp. He's either seventh or eighth on the unofficial depth chart as of now. That he has missed time with a groin injury, including last night's practice, and is dropping passes does not bode well for his future with the team. And he knows it.
"It's always good to have that 'hat trick' in the bag," he said, "but that doesn't mean anything right now when we're in the heat of competition."
The one thing Tyree does have over the other receivers fighting for a roster spot is a history with the team, and not just that one amazing jumping catch. Tyree has been a Giant since 2003 and was a special-teams star for most of his career. He knows the quarterback and the coaches. More importantly, they know him.
"He's a worker," Tom Coughlin said. "He's a tough guy."
"He's a guy you can trust," Eli Manning said of Tyree. "When you get in games, he makes plays for us."
Coughlin also said that whenever a player misses time - whether it's a day as Tyree did this weekend or an entire season as he did in 2008 - there is an adjustment to be made when returning. Coughlin, who could be forced to make a very difficult decision regarding Tyree's future before the start of the regular season, pointed to Tyree's catches at the end of yesterday's practice. "Hopefully, he is working his way back into it," he said.
Tyree has always been known as "Gamer," a guy who never shines in practices but manages to perform in games. In fact, he had a poor practice the Friday before Super Bowl XLII, dropping a number of passes. But he was already on the team then.
Tyree said he might be impressed that coming off his injuries, he can still get open. But, he said, if he can't catch the ball, it doesn't really matter. "When it comes to catching the football, that's what I'm paid to do," Tyree said. "By my standards, I haven't put together a full day. My standards are high even though I'm not a highly touted receiver."