Coughlin confident with current roster of receivers

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is confident in his group of receivers for 2009. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is confident in his group of receivers for 2009. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)

In what is likely to be a popular topic of conversation at Giants training camp, coach Tom Coughlin was asked Monday about his expectations for a relatively inexperienced receivers unit.

The Giants currently have a total of 10 wideouts on their roster who combine to average less than three years of pro experience. Coughlin said he has seen enough from some of his young receivers to feel confident that they can fill that void.

“I expect them, even with the influx of the younger guys, I expect them to come along. They need to make a contribution,” Coughlin said. “I think we have some players that have been here, that have proven that they can play. They are solid players, we certainly need more out of all of those guys. We need some of these younger guys who we have invested in to step up and be contributors.”

The team’s two rookies– Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden — are almost assured of final roster spots. Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon — two key contributors from last season — will certainly be in the mix.

That likely leaves one or two spots for the likes of Sinorice Moss (38 receptions, 403 yards, two touchdowns in 29 games), Derek Hagan (53 receptions, 645 yards, three touchdowns in 36 games with the Dolphins) and last year’s third-round pick Mario Manningham (four receptions, 26 yards in limited time last season). And don’t forget about David Tyree — the unlikely hero of Super Bowl XLII and one-time Pro Bowler as a member of the special teams unit, who, with six years of playing experience, ranks as the most senior member of this group and the only wideout with more than four years of NFL experience.

Coughlin said he saw enough of this group from the spring to feel comfortable that someone will emerge.

“After going through the spring with these guys I became more comfortable,” Coughlin said. “Also, don’t forget, Sinorice (Moss) had a nice spring. Steve Smith knows exactly what he is being asked to do at this point in time. Mario Manningham had a nice offseason. We are going to have to see the continued growth of those guys, but they were all brought here. They were high draft choices. They were brought here for a reason. We were encouraged by the spring.”

And of course no discussion about the Giants wide receivers could go on for very long without talking about the departed Plaxico Burress — more specifically, who Coughlin expects to replace Burress’ 6-foot-5, 232-pound frame downfield.

“I think Ramses Barden is that guy, I am hoping,” Coughlin said of the Giants’ 6-6, 227-pound third-round pick. “He is going to have to learn on the fly. A lot of these guys are going to have to learn on the fly. Hopefully, with the team that we have and our ability to run the ball, then we can learn how to complement each other.”

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