He has yet to drill a game-winning field goal in a big spot to endear himself to his teammates and Giants fans everywhere, but slowly and steadily, Owen Pochman is carving a place for himself with the Giants.
The new place-kicker, who caddied a year ago for Morten Andersen, has been handed the kicking chores but if he falters, there are unsigned veterans just waiting for a call. Thus far in training camp, Pochman has done the job.
"He's kicking a lot better right now than he was when we first started
camp," Fassel said. "I like my little deals I'm doing with him - I have to
put a little pressure on him. If he just kicks a couple of field goals in a
preseason game, I don't find out about him. When you get your whole team
standing around him and you know you're going to run twice as much (if he
misses), that's pressure. He's handled it well."
Pochman in the preseason opener hit field goals of 23 and 37 yards against the Texans, but what Fassel believes were stiffer tests were the two field goals Pochman was asked to make on a bet: He makes the kick, the entire team skips conditioning running. If he misses, the team runs double the normal amount. Pochman delivered twice for his teammates, which helps gain friends.
"I like my progress and I feel I'm getting better every day in this camp,"
Pochman said. "You're always going to be tabbed as inexperienced until you do something of great substance and right now I'm just trying to get through training camp to get to the regular season."
Fassel understands a kicker must earn respect. "I have confidence in him,'' Fassel said, "but he has to prove it to everybody."
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This is no longer just a novelty. Fassel continues to sing the praises of Darnell Dinkins, a quarterback from Pitt who was expected to be nothing more than a camp arm. The Giants have no plans to use Dinkins as a quarterback, but Fassel is so intrigued by Dinkins and so impressed with his work-ethic that it will be hard for the head coach to part with the guy.
"I'm gonna find somewhere for him,'' said Fassel.
Where? Fassel said perhaps at tight end, receiver or on defense. And definitely on special teams.
"I'm going to move him because he's the hardest-working guy we have in
camp," Fassel said. "I'm going to give the kid a chance. I don't know what Dinkins can do. I don't know if he's an offensive player, a defensive player or a special teams player. I really don't know. But I want to give him every chance to prove to me he's worthy.''
Who says hard work doesn't pay off?
It seemed fairly insignificant when the Giants at the very start of camp signed a fullback from Hampton names Darian Barnes. It was expected that Charles Stackhouse, a free agent from Mississippi, had the inside track on replacing Greg Comella. But after two weeks of camp, Barnes climbed ahead of Stackhouse and it was Barnes who started against the Patriots in the second preseason game. Barnes called it "Probably the most important game of my entire life.''