|Jerry Reese's first rookie class making contributions for Giants|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 10 January 2008 00:45|
All the second-round draft pick from Southern California could think about on Wednesday was his toes. They were blue, courtesy of a little dye put in his shoes by Plaxico Burress a couple of days ago.
Even with the NFC semifinal against the Dallas Cowboys on tap Sunday, the life of rookie doesn't change until the season ends.
Tackle Adam Koets, a sixth-round draft pick who played for the first time last week, still has to buy pizza for the linemen on Fridays, bring breakfast sandwiches on Saturday and decorate the linemen's room for each holiday.
Halfback Ahmad Bradshaw is still making the Popeye's runs for his fellow running backs.
Linebacker Zac DeOssie is also bringing breakfast sandwiches on Saturday.
If there has been one change over the course of the season for the Giants rookies, it's on the field.
New general manager Jerry Reese's first class of draftees is contributing as the Giants (11-5) prepare to play the Cowboys (13-3) for the third time this season.
First-round choice Aaron Ross has started at cornerback almost every game since the third week of the season. Smith is making catches after missing 11 weeks with shoulder and hamstring injuries.
Jay Alford, the third-round pick, has worked his way into the defensive line rotation besides his field goal and extra point snapping.
DeOssie is the long snapper. Kevin Boss, the fifth-round pick, has replaced the injured Jeremy Shockey as the starting tight end. Koets got his first action on special teams in the playoff win over Tampa Bay last weekend, while Bradshaw and safety Michael Johnson, both seventh-round picks, have played more than anyone expected.
``It's a terrific feeling,'' Smith said. ``We all came in with high expectations. It's just a great motivation factor when you see all the rookies making plays.''
The rookies who may make the biggest impact against the Cowboys on Sunday are Ross, a former Texas Longhorn, and Bradshaw, the surprise from Marshall.
Ross will start at left cornerback. He will have the job of limiting a group that includes Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton and Terry Glenn.
Bradshaw could be the biggest surprise. A kickoff returner most of the season, he got his first extensive action against Buffalo on Dec. 23 and rushed for 151 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
After sitting out the season finale against New England with a calf injury, Bradshaw gave the Giants an outside rushing threat with 66 yards rushing on 17 carries against the Buccaneers.
``It's something I have been waiting on, just to get on the field,'' said Bradshaw, whose style is different than the pounding of big Brandon Jacobs.
``When Brandon is in there, all I do is scout the defense and see how they're playing different runs,'' Bradshaw said. ``All I can do is get smarter with Brandon in there.''
Boss is another rookie who might have a big role against Dallas. He moved into the starting lineup on Dec. 23 after Shockey broke his leg the previous week. His blocking helped the running game collect 291 yards against Buffalo that day. He added four catches for 50 yards and a TD against New England the following week and had two catches for 14 yards in his first playoff game last weekend.
``He has a good feel for where he needs to be and what is going on,'' quarterback Eli Manning said. ``He is a big target at 6-foot-7, so he has done a good job and he has really learned a bunch the last few weeks.''
Manning and Shockey combined for 12 receptions against the Cowboys here on Nov. 11, so Boss has big shoes to fill.
``Maybe when the season is over I'll look back and it will all sink in,'' Boss said. ``Now I'm just along for the ride and having fun.''
DeOssie is loving it. The son of a former Giants player and a former ball boy for the Patriots, he knew what to expect as a rookie - singing college fight songs, carrying the veterans' equipment off the field and the unending go-fer runs. Getting this far in the playoffs and making a contribution has made the season seem even better.
``We have been together since the draft,'' DeOssie said. ``We've stuck together. We all know what we are going through. It's great to see my teammates, my class, out there now making plays.''