Beckum, Pascoe, Ballard, and Coats

Now that Kevin Boss has signed with the Raiders and free agent signing Ben Patrick called it quits Saturday, there's a huge question at tight end. And underperforming Travis Beckum appears at the top of that issues.

If Jerry Reese has made one big mistake since football opened for business, it was allowing Kevin Boss to look around in the open market.

Boss, a more than adequate blocker with good hands and fearlessness exhibited by few players, went and found himself a new employer in Oakland. Just before that, the Giants' supposed replacement, Ben Patrick, decided he'd had enough of football and packed it in Saturday night.

So what do the Giants have now at tight end?

Not a whole lot, that's what.

Bear Pascoe, used mostly as a fullback last year, fourth-year free agent signing Daniel Coats, late of the Broncos and Bengals, and predominant practice squadder Jake Ballard are three guys you might see in Boss' place.

But the one the Giants are banking on right now is Travis Beckum, and that's not good news. Beckum isn't exactly Boss. He's not anywhere near the blocker Boss was, and his hands are inconsistent, to say the least.

But unless Reese pulls off a trade for a quality tight end, Beckum may be the best option available.

"I'm ready to do whatever I have to do and whatever they ask me to do," said Beckum. "I think that I have done a good job with whatever they asked me to do. I took advantage of everything, whether it was coming out of the backfield, at the Y or being in there during goal line. Whatever they asked me to do, I am willing to do it."

Unfortunately, Beckum may be overstating his case. Observers at practice indicate he's having some issues finishing blocks, a big portion of the starting tight end's job, even more than pass-catching.

Coats could be a pass-catcher, though he didn't show that last year in grabbing zero passes in 10 games with the Broncos and Bengals. He only has 30 career catches, but could be pressed into more extensive service.

Pascoe showed himself to be a willing, aggressive blocker in the fullback role after departed starter Madison Hedgecock got injured. And he also caught nine passes for 72 yards. But Pascoe may well be headed for Beckum's old H-back type role. And Ballard played in only one game while spending the rest of 2010 on either the practice squad or the gameday inactive list.

It's not a pretty picture at all. And unless Beckum raises his game significantly, the situation could have major ramifications on the passing game.

"He has a special skill set and certainly we'd like to take full advantage of that skill set," Tom Coughlin said. "He's always been a guy that's been on special teams, a personnel combination kind of a player that you used accordingly.

"We've brought him inside to the fullback position this fall, we've put him on the edge and done that with him and then we've lined him up at the point. You certainly don't want to do that all the time and run the power or whatever right at him but he can do it."

Beckum has the speed. But whether he shows the power and willingness to block will determine his usefulness as a tight end.

He has yet to do that.