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It's an Old-New Thing For the Rebuilding Giants

Wednesday, September 8, 2004; Page H10

The old and the new collide this season on Broadway. The question is whether it will be a complete disaster or the first step toward a well-reasoned rebuilding plan.

Representing the NFL's old guard are Coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Kurt Warner. Both forged their reputations with other teams. Each knows the effort involved in advancing far into the playoffs, and in Warner's case, the necessary measures to win a Super Bowl.

_____ New York Giants _____
Giants Section

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_____Team Previews_____
In predicted order of finish

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Cowboys
Washington Redskins
New York Giants

NFC South
New Orleans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons

NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions

NFC West
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams
San Francisco 49ers
Arizona Cardinals

AFC East
New England Patriots
New York Jets
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans
Houston Texans

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens
Pittsburgh Steelers
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

AFC West
Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

The fresh face is Eli Manning, who had better get used to New York fans in a hurry. It might not be pretty at Giants Stadium if he does not live up to his billing as franchise savior.

Manning, however, will get some time to learn. Coughlin named Warner the starting quarterback after one particularly poor performance by Manning in the preseason in which he had a rating of 0.0.

The Giants traditionally have emphasized running the ball, and in that department, the team has contrasting options.

The starter is Tiki Barber, who ran for 1,216 yards last season and caught a team-high 69 passes for 461 yards. The polar opposite to Barber's darting style is Ron Dayne, the 1999 Heisman Trophy winner who came into camp leaner and more resolute in what may be his final opportunity with the team.

Reliable Michael Strahan anchors a defense that toiled last season and has revamped at linebacker with the departures of Mike Barrow, Dhani Jones and Brandon Short. Carlos Emmons is the most experienced of the bunch.

Keep an eye on the player-coach relationship this season. It didn't take long for a fissure to develop during one of the team's first minicamps, when players complained Coughlin worked them too hard.

"It's a tough game, and it's played by tough people," Coughlin said. "I think what we have to do is to reestablish the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. We have to be a smart football team."

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