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Coughlin, Giants ready for a fresh start

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin observes

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin observes practice during Day Three of the NFL team's three day minicamp held at the team's training facility. (June 17, 2010) Photo Credit: James A. Escher

Tom Coughlin isn't going to spend a lot of time talking about the 2009 season.

"I would not want to see the profane in print," he said half-jokingly about his reluctance to discuss the 8-8 disappointment that ended with two games in which the Giants were outscored by a combined 85-16.

But the real reason he isn't going to keep harping on what happened is that he already knows everyone on the team is aware of it. From the boos that cascaded down on the team as they left the Giants Stadium field for the last time to the fury of John Mara's words that trickled down to every crevice of the organization once the season was over, the Giants can't help but remember last year's humiliations.

So when they report for training camp today, ostensibly to start anew and put '09 behind them, the one lingering tone you can expect to feel - if not directly hear - is redemption.

"This has been a real source for our team the whole offseason," Coughlin said of the idea of making amends for last year's showing. "The less talk about it the better, with the exception of the fact that you know it's going to be a great motivator and it's going to remain that way."

Not everyone lived through it, but the new players the Giants brought in during the offseason already are well-versed in the tribulations that kept the Giants out of the playoffs after four straight postseason appearances. And it's no coincidence that some of those players - Antrel Rolle, Deon Grant and even recently added Keith Bulluck - are the type who would not seem out of place with a "C'' on their chest.

It's not that the Giants are necessarily looking for a captain on defense, although they do have to replace Antonio Pierce, who held the office the last few years. Rather, they are trying to build leaders. That responsibility will fall on just about everyone.

"One of the things we've talked to our team about . . . is you always need leadership," Coughlin said. "You need strength from within. You need your locker room to be strong. You need that your players understand and are mature enough to appreciate that it's a marathon and not a sprint. There will be things that come up during the course of the season and they've got to be handled right."

That didn't always happen last year. Even as the season ended, Justin Tuck said he felt uncomfortable taking a leadership role on defense because an injury prevented him from always giving 100 percent in practices. Now that he's mended, perhaps he'll be more of a vocal leader.

Some others already have stepped into that role. Coughlin said he was particularly impressed by comments from Grant, who, during one of the hot days of spring workouts, reminded his teammates that they are professionals and should work and act accordingly.

"There isn't any question that the experience factor is a very, very important one for us and that these players we brought in who have that quickly understand the guidance and example they can give to the multitude of young guys who we have here," Coughlin said.

It might be beneficial to hear those messages from players who were not part of the collapse from a 5-0 title contender to an 8-8 punching bag. They don't carry that pain. Many of course do. And although it might be inescapable, Coughlin will not let it become a focus.

"It's already embedded; there's no need to go any further with it," he said. "I'm not saying we're putting it aside. It's just not really time to talk about what happened last year. We know exactly what happened. The idea for us now is, the motivation is there, so let's go solve some issues."

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