Giants open workouts minus Burress

Updated: March 17, 2009, 2:40 PM ET
Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Giants opened their voluntary offseason workouts on Monday, knowing that the next event to shape the team will happen at the end of the month when Plaxico Burress faces a court date on a felony gun charge.

Burress did not attend Monday's workouts, nor was he expected.

The Giants have stated for months that they will wait for the legal process to conclude before deciding what to do with the speedy receiver who caught the pass that won a Super Bowl more than 13 month ago.

Burress is due in court on March 31. If convicted of the felony charge, Burress faces a mandatory 3½ years in prison.

"I don't have anything further to add to where we are," coach Tom Coughlin said when asked about Burress, who accidentally shot himself in the right thigh in November at a New York nightclub and was suspended by the team for the final four games of last season. "You all know the legal process is forthcoming, and pretty much, that's where we are. I don't have anything new to report."

Coughlin refused to speculate on Burress' future.

"I wouldn't even go into that," he said. "As I always say, that kind of speculation is fruitless. I don't see any benefit in that."

Even if Burress is acquitted, the NFL could decide to suspend him or the Giants might decide that they have had enough of a talented player who has been fined dozens of times for various team violations.

Burress was suspended for a game early last season for missing a team meeting. He sat out the final four for conduct detrimental to the team.

Unfortunately for the Giants, they were 11-1 with Burress on the team and 1-4 in the final five, losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC semifinal. Without Burress, the offense lost its only deep threat and became predictable.

Quarterback Eli Manning said Monday that he has reached out to Burress in the offseason.

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"I've sent some texts and just tried to keep up with him and tell him I'm thinking about him," Manning said in a conference call. "In that situation there's a lot of waiting and seeing. I guess we'll find something out these next couple of weeks about what's going to happen."

The Giants opted to help their defense when free agency opened earlier this month, signing defensive linemen Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard and linebacker Michael Boley.

Manning wasn't surprised, noting a good defense gets the offense the ball in good field position and there is less pressure to score if the defense is playing well.

The 2008 Super Bowl MVP also felt the Giants already have some young players who can go deep with Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith.

"We'll see what happens the rest of the offseason and in the draft," Manning said. "Maybe we'll add another guy. Some of that is going to depend on Plaxico and what he's going to do. But I think some of these guys can make big plays for us and can catch the ball and give us some explosive plays in the passing game, as well as have that in the running game as well."

Manning was certain of one thing, the Giants weren't happy with the way they finished the season.

"We played so well during the regular season, so we had high expectations going into the playoffs. We felt we had a good shot at making a strong run. There was just disappointment after the season," he said.

Defensive end Justin Tuck believes the additions on the defensive line and the return of two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora, who missed last season with a knee injury, makes the Giants the team to beat.

"Obviously, it is good for our D-line because we were a pretty formidable group before these two signings and now I think it definitely puts us up there with the elite or close to the elite D-line in the country," Tuck said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press