The Giants may have some good players on their roster or in their plans who can play wide receiver, but right now, well, the options are a little limited. Ramses Barden is starting training camp on the PUP list, Steve Smith is an unsigned free agent and when he comes back he’ll probably wind up on PUP. And Hakeem Nicks does not look like he’ll be practicing when the team takes the field for the first time tonight after skipping sprints yesterday and standing away from the walk-through reps this morning.
With all of that said, do the Giants need Plaxico Burress?
“Yes,” Justin Tuck said, “we do.”
“Need” is a strong word, but Tuck didn’t flinch away from it. Now, whether the Giants decide to pursue their interest in Burress and whether Burress is ready to reciprocate – there are reports that he has crossed the Giants off his list – remains to be seen. But Tuck thinks Burress will be able to help any team that gets him.
“Even if those two (Barden and Smith) were healthy and going full steam, I would think we would still want the quality player that Plaxico is,” Tuck said. “That’s just coming from being on that sideline and watching him go to work. A player like Plaxico is going to open up our running game. They have to double him, they can’t leave him out there by himself. And I know the likes of Bradshaw and Jacobs would love to have a guy like him on this football team. Is he going to make or break our season? I don’t know. We have a lot of quality football players. But is he going to help us out? Absolutely.”
Tuck said he doesn’t think the time away from football will be a hindrance to Burress.
“First of all, is he a tremendous athlete? Absolutely, that’s not even a question,” Tuck said. “He’s taken two years off to heal. The guys I talked to in Miami say he looks better than he did six years ago as far as being fresh and running all over the place. And he also has a chip on his shoulder, something to prove. He’s probably one of those guys who thinks ‘They don’t think I can come back and be what I was.’ I’m sure that’s in the back of his head. I’m sure he’s going to be one that’s going to come in wherever he goes and make a splash early and a big one. That’s where my thinking is on him.”
Burress was at the facility last night and Tuck said that he thought the Giants adequately expressed their desire to have him return.
“Guys came out of their meeting room to say hello,” he said. “I think it was his first time in this facility, so he had the opportunity to kind of see the pictures of him up. I think it was a beautiful overall vibe for him and hopefully that coincided with him putting back on the blue one day.”
One notable player who did not bother to slip away from a meeting and visit with Burress was Eli Manning, who said he’s not one to lobby for any particular player. Tuck seemed surprised to learn of Eli’s snub – the quarterback rationalized it by saying he was working with the backs and receivers who are already on the team to get them ready for the first practice – and said that he would call Burress to continue recruiting him.
Tuck even said he might suggest that Eli give Burress a call, “if I saw the opportunity to.”
At this point, it’s unclear how much that would help. With Burress visiting the Steelers today and the Jets expressing interest in him, about all the Giants have to offer is a mural outside the weight room honoring the Super Bowl XLII team and a chance at redemption (the latter is something the Jets probably offer as well).
“I think we all are (optimistic),” Tuck said of landing Burress. “Obviously we’re not putting all our eggs in one basket. We understand that he has to make a decision to do what’s best for him and his family, that’s all you can ask for. Would we love for him to be here? Absolutely. But we’ll just keep our fingers crossed and hopefully he ends up here.”