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No clear front-runner for Giants defensive coordinator

Perry Fewell may be the first one in the door, but that doesn't mean he'll be the last.

According to a source, the Giants' expansive list of candidates for their defensive coordinator job has hardly been whittled down since the firing of Bill Sheridan on Monday, and there doesn't seem to be anyone at the top of that list yet.

"There is no front-runner at this point," the source said.

Still, the search begins in earnest Thursday as Fewell is scheduled to meet with Tom Coughlin. The Bills' former interim head coach is still a candidate for the top job in Buffalo but appears to be a more legitimate contender for one of two defensive coordinator positions. After interviewing with the Giants, he'll reportedly meet with the Bears early next week.

The Giants appear to be in no rush to fill their opening, especially not with so many potential candidates coaching playoff teams. And as far as limiting their search to a coordinator who would stick with the 4-3 system the team is currently built for, the Giants sound as if switching to a 3-4 would not be a deal-breaker for any candidate.

Asked if the team is committed to a 4-3, a source said the team is committed only to getting better. "I don't think it matters," the source said.

The Giants also fired popular defensive line coach Mike Waufle yesterday, a sign that few jobs on the staff are safe. Waufle sent Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck to Pro Bowls in his five years with the Giants, but with sack production falling from 53 in 2007 to 42 last year to 32 this season, the once-feared pass rush became a non-factor.

Although Waufle was dismissed mostly for the performance of his unit, the move also clears the path for any new coordinator to install the kind of defensive front - three-man or four-man - he'd prefer.

Whatever the scheme, one of the Giants' most outspoken critics in recent weeks - and no, we don't mean John Mara - knows what he'd want in a new coordinator.

"What I personally would like to see is someone who is aggressive, teaches fundamentals, and who is an assistant on a defense playing a very disciplined, aggressive brand of defense," former Giants linebacker Harry Carson told Newsday. "That is what I really didn't see this year [from the Giants]."

Carson also said that from what he watched this season, whoever the Giants hire will have his hands full.

"I played for coaches who, when they said something, you didn't question it," he said. "Now there are players who, when you say something to them, they might question it and might not do what they're asked to do. Coordinators are being questioned by guys who really don't know anything."

Carson noted that when he played the final game of his NFL career in 1988 after 13 seasons and nine Pro Bowls, he was learning up to the last snap. He doesn't think today's players take the experience that seriously.

"There are some players who will probably say 'I got it down' or 'I know what I'm doing,' " he said. "That's not the case. You have to be physically and mentally ready to play the game. They need a different concept and attitude, especially defensively.

"That," he added, "is part of the issue that somebody is going to deal with with this team."

Notes & quotes: TE Kevin Boss announced on his Twitter account that he had surgery on his pinkie finger . . . WR Hakeem Nicks did not receive any votes for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, which was won by Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin . . . The Giants added three players to their roster: DB Courtney Brown, FB Jerome Johnson and K Sam Swank.

A look at some of the possible candidates to replace Bill Sheridan, right, for the Giants’ defensive coordinator job:

A defensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville with head- coaching experience, but not known as a motivator. If they wanted a soft-spoken, not-so-intense coach with a smart head for game planning, they might as well have kept Sheridan.

He would bring the intensity of a former player and the experience of a former head coach. He is also considered a candidate for the top defensive job in Washington under newly installed coach Mike Shanahan.

He has the emotion and the connection (a DB coach under Coughlin in Jacksonville), but he runs a Tampa-2 scheme that probably would not suit the Giants. He seems to be a better fit for the Bears job.

He and Coughlin were assistant coaches with the Giants from 1988-90, so they go back a long way. Crennel was thought to be in line for the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator job, but that position never opened.

The Redskins’ linebackers coach seemed to get the most out of London Fletcher and Pro Bowl rookie Brian Orakpo this season. He would bring energy and youth (he’s 36), but no experience as a coordinator. Did Sheridan’s season eliminate any possible first-time play-callers?

Some other possible candidates, many of whom are coaching playoff teams: George Edwards (LB coach, Dolphins), Mike Zimmer (coordinator, Bengals), Dom Capers (coordinator, Packers), Bob Sutton (LB coach, Jets), Pepper Johnson (LB coach, Patriots).

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