ALBANY - He was late in arriving, he had a miserable time once he started out to get here and he was on the receiving end of a practical joke once he finally hit the field. It was an eventful first day of training camp for Jeremy Shockey.
The first-round pick early in the day signed his five-year, $8.5 million contract and in the afternoon participated in his first practice. All eyes were on Shockey, fans were calling his name and cameras were pointed in his direction. Top picks always attract extreme attention, but not often does a rookie come in with as much hype and buildup as Shockey.
The tight end from Miami missed six days and 10 practices, and he was put through the test right away. The first time Shockey lined up at his position, Jim Fassel instructed 10 offensive players not to move on the first snap count but kept Shockey in the dark. Kerry Collins barked out the snap, Shockey jumped and everyone else stood still.
Said Fassel, "I said 'How stupid can you be? Don't jump off-sides, just because you missed camp. You got a lot of numbers in your head, I know that.' He was hurt. I looked in his eyes. He said 'Man, I think I'm going crazy, I heard 'one' in the huddle.' ''
Otherwise, Shockey performed as advertised, showing the soft hands and quick feet that figure to immediately make him an integral part of the Giants offense. He will have better days than his first one, though.
After his deal was finalized, his flight Monday night from Miami was supposed to take off at 8:30 but did not get in the air until after 11 p.m. He got to LaGuardia Airport after 1:30 a.m. and a car service supplied by the Giants was waiting to drive him upstate.
Shockey got to Albany just before 5 a.m. but he did not know where to find the team on campus and thus had no place to sleep. He checked local hotels, which were all booked, and with no phone numbers to call the Giants, his only choice was to sit in the car at a gas station, with the driver, for nearly two hours before tight ends coach Mike Pope finally reached him on his cell phone.
"I didn't know where to go,'' Shockey said.
Expect him to be headed in the right direction from here on out.
"We don't want to get too far ahead with this kid, I don't want to tap him out just because we feel he can be our savior,'' Kerry Collins said, before forgetting his own advice by stating "His talent level is off the charts, as good as I've ever seen. He becomes a threat every time he comes on the field.''
TE Dan Campbell left the afternoon practice with cramps and another TE, Marcellus Rivers, limped on a sore foot. Before he left, Campbell and LB Brandon Short exchanged a flurry of punches during a brief skirmish. ...
WR Jonathan Carter, who had made significant strides from his rookie year, made a leaping catch over Will Allen. Carter could emerge as the No. 1 kick returner. ...
Rookie S Nate Coggins, who seems to make plays, had in interception in the seven-on-seven drill. ...
Fassel gave a hint into his thinking concerning the backup defensive backs when he praised S Clarence LeBlanc, a second-year player who caught the Giants eyes a year ago playing in NFL Europe. "He's really much more aware,'' Fassel said. "If he stays on that page the guy will be a real pleasant surprise.''