2009 New York Giants: Tight Ends Preview

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2009 New York Giants: Tight Ends Preview
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Thunder and Lightning

Tight Ends Coach: Mike Pope
Offensive Coordinator: Kevin Gilbride

Tight Ends: Kevin Boss (Starter). Darcy Johnson, Michael Matthews, Martrez Milner, Lee Vickers, Travis Beckum

Overview - Mike Pope, the NFL's dean of tight end coaching, has been handling receivers for nearly 40 years. He is the only player or coach that has participated in all four of the Giants' Super Bowl appearances.

Over his long career Pope has developed many Pro-Bowl caliber tight ends including Mark Bavaro, Ben Coates, Rodney Holman, Steven Alexander and Jeremy Shockey. Soon they'll be adding Kevin Boss' name to that group. This season Pope will be asked to integrate an explosive rookie - Travis Beckum of Wisconsin - into the fold.

Kevin Boss - A fifth-round draft pick in 2007, Boss assumed full-time duties in November of that season after Jeremy Shockey broke his leg. He played flawlessly down the stretch making many a key play including a 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII.

In the beginning, Boss did not seem to be as imposing as Shockey was, but he has filled out since then. He has excellent hands and a solid YAC (yards after catch) average. Last season, Boss caught 42 passes for 502 yards and 6 TDs in 15 games.

Michael Matthews - At 6'4", 270 this free agent pickup from Georgia Tech has been a very productive part of the Giants rushing attack as a blocker the past two seasons. With all the new faces arriving in camp this summer, Matthews will find himself fighting for a roster spot.

Darcy Johnson - Johnson was active for every game last season, and at 6'5", 267 he showed some prowess at both receiving and blocking. He is also on the bubble and will be challenged by newcomers in camp.

Martrez Milner - Milner spent 2008 on the practice squad after being signed as a free agent. He was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the 4th round of the 2007 draft.

Lee Vickers - Vickers is a 6'6", 275 lb former defensive lineman turned tight end. Since 2006, he has spent time with three other franchises before the Giants signed him in March.

Travis Beckum - Taken in the third round of this year's draft, Beckum is also a former defender turned tight end. He is an intriguing prospect, not as big (6'3", 240) as the rest of the group, but faster - which is why it is being said that he may be used as an H-back.

The Giants don't normally employ an H-back, so it remains to be seen how the Giants will use him. It is very possible he will be used as a slot receiver, in an attempt to get another big body into opponent's secondaries.

Outlook - Boss is the man. He has proved that he can be a complete player. Now, it is up to Kevin Gilbride and Eli Manning to utilize his talents to their advantage. Beckum will create mismatch problems for defenses with his size and speed.

Again, it is up to the coaches to call his number and for Eli to create a rapport with him. With all of the new talent coming to camp, the Giants may only carry three TEs, so Matthews, Johnson and the others will have to earn that other spot. Matthews has the inside lane on that right now.

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