EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -After spending a maddening season listening to Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress and others complain, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin isn't going to take it anymore.
Coughlin met with some players and spoke to the team on Wednesday about the need for the Giants to play more and talk less, especially when it comes to criticizing teammates and the coaching staff.
``Let's just play the game - talk is cheap - let's play the game,'' Coughlin said as the Giants opened a mandatory three-day minicamp. ``I would like it to stay that way.''
It certainly wasn't that way last season, as the Giants displayed a selfish nature in making the playoffs with an 8-8 record.
When things went right, they were fine. When things went wrong, they were willing to rip their coaches and teammates at the asking.
Shockey started it, saying the Giants were outplayed and outcoached in a 42-30 loss to Seattle early in the season. The Seahawks led 42-3 at one point.
Coughlin scolded Shockey after the outburst. The Giants won their next five games to reach the midway point at 6-2.
They went 2-6 in the second half as injuries to receiver Amani Toomer and defensive end Michael Strahan led to a major slide that got tongues wagging. The Giants had to win their final game to make the playoffs. The season ended the following week at Philadelphia.
``Last year we had a couple of heads who wouldn't leave certain situations alone,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Antonio Pierce said.
Pierce created his own controversy, knocking Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and Eagles linebacker Jeremiah Trotter before games.
Things only got worse as the season progressed.
Barber, who said the Giants were outcoached by former assistant John Fox in their 2005 playoff loss to Carolina, ripped offensive coordinator John Hufnagel for abandoning the running game too early in a loss at Jacksonville in early November.
Coughlin counseled Barber after the complaint.
A couple of weeks later, Strahan criticized Burress for giving up on a play after Pacman Jones made a crucial interception in an embarrassing loss to Tennessee. New York blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead.
Burress, who said Coughlin didn't know how to take a joke in training camp, occasionally complained about not getting enough passes from Eli Manning.
``If it's not about football or this week's performance or this week's opponent, we don't need to talk about it,'' Pierce said. ``That's what my approach will be this year. I want to go back to having fun playing football.
``I don't want to be hearing: 'Why is this teammate fighting? Why is he saying that?' This ain't high school. It's professional football. We don't need to do that.''
Barber, who after the season said Coughlin's coaching style hastened his retirement, won't be a problem. The Giants' all-time leading rusher retired and is working with NBC as a correspondent for the ``Today'' show.
Barber did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment on Coughlin's desire to have the players talk less.
Shockey didn't speak to the media on Wednesday.
Strahan, who claims he is ready to be a dominant end again after recovering from a foot injury, agreed with Coughlin's approach.
``Complaining doesn't do anything,'' Strahan said. ``When you lose and complain, it does nothing. When you brag, it does nothing. All that matters is how you play next week, and I like that. Shut up and play. You should be known more about how you play than how you talk.''
Manning said all the talking distracted the team last season.
``It's harder here than most places, probably, but it's a matter of us being smart about what we are doing and what we are saying,'' Manning said. ``You are going to be put in hard situations and asked hard questions, and you just have to stick to your roots and be careful about what you are saying.''
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