Jeremy Shockey's Gone from the New York Giants, but Who Will Step-Up?

gregory caldarellaAnalyst IJuly 25, 2008

Let me just start by saying that Jeremy Shockey was one of my favorite players on the Giants.

Ever since he burst onto the scene in his rookie year, with his great energy and smack talk, he had me hooked. He would plow over defenders: I remember in the infamous playoff game against the Niners when he had a clear path to the end zone, but veered off so he could run over Julian Peterson, who claimed he would shut down Shockey that game.

He brought great passion to the Giants' locker room and was always able to get the crowd into the game. However, he could never learn when to shut his mouth.

Shockey has always been a big baby' and I had foreseen his time with the Giants coming to an end once the offense started clicking in the playoffs.

You could get the feel that Shockey had distanced himself from the team and probably sulked at the fact that he wasn't a part of the magical run, instead of being happy for his teammates.

When it comes down to it, Shockey is in it all for himself.

He got it in his head that he felt unwanted and threw a tantrum to get what he wanted. He supposedly had a couple of screaming matches with GM Jerry Reese, which was probably all part of his plan to get traded.

Shockey obviously wanted to be reunited with former Giants offensive coordinator Sean Payton, who now coaches the Saints. Jeremy saw his best production under the game plans issued by Payton back in his rookie year.

The Saints got a great player and at great value' as long as he maintains his cool. (Basically' as long as Drew Brees feeds him the ball.) I know that at times Shockey was forgotten about on offense in New York, but I wonder how much of this situation was really due to Shockey's selfishness or due to things behind the scenes with management.

With that being said, I wish Shockey the best of luck and hope he finds what he is looking for with his new team, but who will step up to fill the void that he has left in New York?

While everyone was saying Kevin Boss did a great job filling in the tight-end position down the stretch, I noticed that another player on the Giants' offense was starting to emerge as a potent threat. He wasn't a tight end. He was third receiver Steve Smith.

It has been awhile since the G-Men have truly utilized their third receiver, but Smith started coming into his own and making clutch plays, especially in the playoffs.

Smith is the heir apparent to Amani Toomer as the solid, possession wideout, but for now, he has found his niche in the slot. He developed a great rapport with Eli Manning, and that connection figures to only get stronger going into this year.

Smith still hasn't won the third spot outright, but he should have the inside track over oft-injured Sinorice Moss and rookie Mario Manningham. The balls that used to go to Shockey now figure to give the receiving corps more opportunities to make big plays.

Kevin Boss is still a project, despite his mini-run of late-season success. He will be an adequate receiving tight end for years to come, but he is still learning the tricks of the trade and it would have been nice for him to have one more year under Shockey's tutelage.

The coaches would like to see his blocking skills improved and that's where Shockey will be missed. Shockey was a very underrated blocker and was an every-down player.

Now, while everyone is assuming Boss is a lock for the starting gig, there is another guy whose name should be mentioned in the mix: Darcy Johnson.

Johnson was a late-round project selected by the Giants a couple of years back. He was supposed to be the Giants' next tight end after Shockey. He had an outstanding training camp last year, until he suffered a knee injury. He has worked hard and has recovered fully, and the coaches have already said he looks like one of the best players on the field at times.

Boss won't have the job handed to him, but he should still have an edge at this point. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out, but in the end, the Giants know there is life on their offense without Shockey.

Just ask Tampa Bay, Dallas, Green Bay, and New England about that.