Free-agent offensive tackle Char-ron Dorsey was originally with the Dallas Cowboys two summers ago, and became so distressed with the coaches screaming at him to lose weight (he showed up at almost 390 pounds) that he left the camp, then located in Wichita Falls, Tex., and headed for the airport. But two assistant coaches caught up with him and convinced him to come back -- and he eventually made the team.
Former head coach Dave Campo came to expect that every false-start flag was aimed at Dorsey, and one of the beat writers tried to comfort him: "It's not him, coach," he said. "It's his belly. It moves way before he does and it just goes over the line of scrimmage."
Campo smiled at that once and responded: "Then it's not false start, it's offsides."
Tight end Marcellus Rivers suddenly became the second-teamer when Dan Campbell defected and signed on with Dallas, which doesn't make head coach Jim Fassel or tight ends coach Mike Pope overly comfortable because Rivers is a lousy blocker. He defended himself by saying, "Right now I'm an average blocker, but I know what I have to do and all it takes is hard work and technique." That could, in fact, be said about any position and any player.
Rivers was a three-sport (baseball, basketball, football) All-State selection out of Douglass Hgh School in Oklahoma City, Okla. "I wanted to go to college so I told a few baseball teams not to draft me," he said. "But then when I finished (at Oklahoma State) nobody called, so I signed with the Giants."
The latest schedule rumor has the Giants opening in either New England or New Orleans and then getting Bill Parcells and the Cowboys in Giants Stadium on the second Monday night game of the season. It would, interestingly, be Parcells' fourth appearance in Giants Stadium as a head coach -- the Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets and now Dallas.
It is beginning to look like running back Ron Dayne is intent on burning his bridges. He told coach Jim Fassel he planned to attend the team's "optional-but-mandatory" offseason training and conditioning program, which began last Monday (March 24), but then said through his agent that he was going to work out on his own in Phoenix, Ariz. Fassel was livid. "I don't talk to agents about this," he said. "I talk to the players. And when I talked to Ron he promised me he'd be here." Dayne has requested a trade and so far the Giants have declined, so perhaps he is trying to force their hands.
If Dayne is going to be moved, one indication would be how the Giants approach their draft and the remaining time left to veteran free agency. They have had several backs in for interviews, including Dorsey Levens (Philadelphia) and Olandis Gary (Denver), and have quietly begun to talk about draft eligible Willis McGahee, the 6-0, 225-pound superstar from the Miami Hurricanes who would surely have been a top-5 pick had he not torn up his knee. He is rehabbing well ahead of schedule and has run that monster 4.48 in the 40-yard dash. Second round? Well, the Giants don't pick until 25th, and that might be a perfect place for them to begin greasing the skids for Dayne.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Imagine, me getting an offer for $375,000. It's a damned lucky thing, too. I live in Staten Island (N.Y.) and everybody there is a Giant fan. If they didn't want me back, those guys would start throwing rocks through my windows." -- DE Frank Ferrara, who was tendered as an exclusive rights free agent by the Giants.
NEEDS/DRAFT PRIORITIES: DT -- The Giants neglected to solve their absence of defensive tackles last season and it hurt them badly when Keith Hamilton went down and out with a ruptured Achilles tendon on Oct. 13. So that should remain as their first-round priority, depending on the quality of the players at that time. It is a year in which the DT is abundant, however.
ILB -- Mike Barrow is fine, but he's 33 years old and starting to feel the aches and pains. Backup at the moment is Nick Greisen, a rookie last year. He is a hard worker and intense, but may not have all the necessary skills. If the Giants don't like the O-linemen available in the first few rounds of the draft, including the first, they could go in this direction -- and they will if Georgia's Boss Bailey is still unclaimed.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LS Trey Junkin (somebody has to be kidding. He's 41 years old and after coming out of retirement to make two bad snaps in the Giants' playoff game, he'll slink back without getting a nod); WR Tony Simmons (was a late-season pickup with almost no value. If another team signs him, no problem. Giants may not even try to re-sign him).
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers): DE Byron Frisch (not tendered as RFA); DT Ross Kolodziej (ERFA tender of $375,000 withdrawn); CB Reggie Stephens (ERFA tender of $375,000 withdrawn); RB Damon Washington (not tendered as ERFA).
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: C Chris Bober (tendered at $605,000 with no compensation; should be re-signed, is one of better young centers in conference); CB Ralph Brown (tendered at $605,000 with 5th-round pick as compensation; Brown was valuable as a backup corner as well as a nickel. The Giants will try to retain his services); LB Dhani Jones (tendered at $605,000 with 6th-round pick as compensation; started all season at weakside, and while found wanting he also improved. Until somebody better comes along (as in this upcoming draft) he is going to be critical to keep); LB Brandon Short (tendered at $605,000 with 4th-round pick as compensation; started at strongside and was more than just acceptable. He is being counted on to start -- and get better -- this year. Giants will probably match any reasonable offer he receives).
PLAYERS RE-SIGNED: OT Barrett Brooks (UFA; $655,000/1 yr, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); WR Ron Dixon (RFA; $605,000/1 yr); QB Jason Garrett (UFA; $780,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB; 2003 cap: $475,000); WR Ike Hilliard (UFA; $12.78M/5 yrs, $2.5M SB/$1M SB option '04; 2003 cap: $1.03M); LB Kevin Lewis (RFA; $1.975M/3 yrs, $450,000 SB; 2003 cap: $600,000); OT Luke Petitgout ($30M/6 yr, $9.75M SB; 2003 cap: $2.155M); PK Owen Pochman (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); CB Kato Serwanga (UFA; $530,000/1 yr, no SB/$25,000 base guarantee; 2003 cap: $450,000); S Omar Stoutmire (UFA; $3.2M/3 yrs, SB unknown).
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: P Jeff Feagles (UFA Seahawks; $4.32M/5 yrs, $500,000 SB; 2003 cap: $855,000); FB Jim Finn (not tendered as RFA by Colts; $985,000/2 yrs, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); CB Ray Green (not tendered as RFA by Dolphins; $985,000/2 yrs, no SB; 2003 cap: $450,000); LS Ryan Kuehl (UFA Browns; $3.62M/5 yrs, $325,000 SB; 2003 cap: $595,000); S Clarence LeBlanc (ERFA; $300,000/1 yr); KR Brian Mitchell (UFA Eagles; $3.55M/4 yrs, $500,000 SB; 2003 cap: $880,000); DE Keith Washington (FA Broncos; terms unknown).
PLAYERS LOST: P Matt Allen (cut); TE Dan Campbell (UFA Cowboys; $4M/3 yrs, $1.47M SB); WR Herman Moore (cut); OT Mike Rosenthal (UFA Vikings; $1.8M/2 yrs, $500,000 SB); CB Jason Sehorn (cut); LB Clayton White (cut); OG Jason Whittle (UFA Buccaneers; $8.2M/5 yrs, $1.8M SB); FB Adam Wright (cut).
MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.