Young Giants Enjoy Rare Veteran Support Group

AP Photo-Bill Kostroun

Corey Webster thought he had perfect coverage on Dallas' Roy Williams. Yet the new Cowboys receiver was still able to make a highlight-film one-handed grab at the sideline.

In the huddle before the next snap, Webster immediately looked to the sideline, where he locked eyes with R.W. McQuarters, who assured him that his coverage was perfect. Buoyed by McQuarters' confirmation, Webster played things the same way on the next play. The result? A huge interception that helped lead the Giants over the Cowboys two weeks ago.

"I told Webster he had good position and good coverage," McQuarters said. "I got his attention in the huddle to tell him he had good coverage and position. That's what we watch for on the sideline."

Earlier in the season another veteran defensive player, Renaldo Wynn, noticed from the sideline that a certain quarterback that shall remain nameless flexed his top hand right before the snap was delivered. Wynn shared the information with his teammates, who then went on the batter the QB the rest of the game.

"We had a little tip on a quarterback from a recent home game," Wynn recalled. "Every time he was about to get the snap, he would flex his hand. If you see that, it gives you a jump. Just a little tip like that. That was one instance where just a little small edge can help you get off the line and beat your blocker.

"That's what Dan Marino used to do all the time. Some quarterbacks do it and they don't even know they're doing it."

Things are so good for the Giants right now that they're even receiving huge contributions from players that aren't even on the field. It's a rarity in today's parity-ridden NFL, but the Giants are so deep that they have the luxury of keeping multiple player/coach-type veterans around to help develop their younger talent.

"Sam Madison, Sammy Knight, R.W. McQuarters, having that kind of experience working with guys that are actually playing in the game, I am not so sure there are many teams that have that," defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo stated. "I think that has a lot to do with it.

"Renaldo Wynn has been wonderful. You see him talking to guys on the sideline all the time."

The best part of it all, according to Spags, is that he didn't even need to ask the vets to help out.

"If you watch them operate, they take it upon themselves and they've been like that since day one," he said. "They're team guys, they're not ego guys and I think they realized that they can help. I think it helps out tremendously. The young guys tend to listen to the older guys, the older vets that have been through the wars."

Rookie Kenny Phillips, who made his first NFL start in Philadelphia last Sunday night, grew up watching Sam Madison toil for the Dolphins. Now, he hangs on his every word.

"I listened to Kenny Phillips one time talking about how he remembers watching Sam Madison play for the Miami Dolphins," Spagnuolo said. "Here's a guy he looked up to and now he's playing side by side with him."

Phillips, who played both his high school and college ball in Miami, agrees that it's a priceless advantage to be able to solicit advice from Madison. Phillips said Madison was the first player he looked to meet after he joined the Giants.

"I was down in Miami watching the Dolphins," Phillips said. "He was lock-down. When he says something, I listen. I definitely listen."

Phillips said he has benefited greatly from not only Madison, but McQuarters as well.

"Even though they're corners they know everything that the safeties do," New York's top pick said. "They know the calls and everything. Since I've been here they've shown me how to watch film, how to practice and things to look for during the game. They've been a tremendous help."

The best part of it all is that the Giants veterans aren't bitter at all about the minimal playing time they receive and actually embrace their roles as mentors.

"You have to maximize how you can contribute and it's not always just hands-on on the field," Wynn said. "Being on the side as an extra set of eyes is important. From my experience, you can pick up on little tips and things that you can pass down to the guys.

"Whatever you can do to contribute. That's something that was passed down to me from when I was a young buck. Overall it helps the whole team out."

It's really just a matter of been there, done that.

"Between me, Sam Madison and Sammy Knight, we've basically played all the teams in the league," McQuarters laughed. "We've either played for them or played against them several times. All the information we give to the young guys only helps us become better as a secondary as a whole."

McQuarters says that everyone that's reached the NFL obviously already has all the physical skills. It's the mental approach that sets players apart at the highest level.

"The biggest thing about this game is the mental aspect," McQuarters stated. "All these guys are great athletes. You want to help them learn what to expect from offenses, knowing receivers, like how they release off the ball, how they run their routes, how they block."

McQuarters' message is simple: the quicker the Giants can get their new guys acclimated, the better off the entire team will be.

"You need that older player to help transform that young guy into not just the defense but the NFL and the expectations of the game," he said. "They need to understand that the NFL is a business and that they're not in college anymore."

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