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Giants Notebook

Knee soreness keeps Burress on sideline

For the second straight day, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress missed practice because of an injury. Yesterday, he walked off the field because of swelling and soreness in his left knee. For the second straight day, Giants receiver Plaxico Burress missed practice because of an injury. Yesterday, he walked off the field because of swelling and soreness in his left knee. (Julie Jacobson/Associated Press)
Email|Print| Text size + By Jim McCabe
Globe Staff / February 1, 2008

CHANDLER, Ariz. - The Giants already had reason to be concerned about wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who missed Wednesday's practice with a lingering right ankle injury. Now Burress's status for Super Bowl XLII Sunday is murkier after spending yesterday's practice on the sideline with swelling and soreness in his left knee.

New York's leading receiver "has an ankle that's always been a problem, but he also has some issues with a knee that off and on in the past has bothered him," Giants coach Tom Coughlin told the pool reporter after practice. "That's the thing right now. Between the two of them, that's why he's not working. He comes out and tries to go and can't go."

Burress is hoping the swelling and soreness in his knee will recede enough to play an active role in today's practice. He's the only Giant to miss the full practice session the last two days. Guard Rich Seubert (knee) and cornerback Kevin Dockery (hip flexor) returned to full participation yesterday after being limited Wednesday.

But having Burress on the field, instead of in the trainer's room, is Coughlin's top concern.

"It's a matter of how fast the swelling goes down so he can deal with it," Coughlin said.

Lasting legacy

Jerry Reese, the New York Giants' rookie general manager, spent much of yesterday morning deflecting praise like a goaltender kicking aside slap shots.

He joked that making the Super Bowl in his first year could be construed as "beginner's luck," and even while he acknowledged that many of the players he had a hand in drafting will be involved in Super Bowl XLII, Reese insisted the true credit sat with the coaches.

"Look at [tight end] Kevin Boss," said Reese. "Last year he was at Western Oregon. Now he's about to start in a Super Bowl. That's hard to do, but the coaches have gotten these players ready."

If there was one thing that came through loud and clear during Reese's 25-minute session with the media, it was his embrace of a central theme: The Giants remain connected to the beloved Wellington Mara, the legendary team owner who died at age 89 in October 2005.

Reese talked of his first days with the Giants, back in 1994 as a scout.

"When I was a young scout, Mr. Mara would always make a special effort to come by and see me," said Reese. "Not to talk football, but to see how I was doing, how my family [was doing]. It meant a lot to me."

Tim Mara bought the Giants in 1925 and it wasn't long before he handed control of the team to his sons, Jack and Wellington. Jack Mara, who was eight years older than Wellington, died in 1965. He had handled most of the team's business operations while Wellington got involved in the football decisions. Together, they helped build the Giants into one of the elite pro sports teams in the country and until the day he died, Wellington was looked upon as one of the guardians of the league, along with the Rooney family in Pittsburgh.

"He was a great man," said Reese.

Jack Mara's piece of the Giants was purchased in 1991 by Bob Tisch, though Wellington Mara's family has maintained its share. Today, three of Wellington's sons are involved in team operations - John is president and CEO, Chris is vice president of player evaluation, and Frank is director of promotions.

Much like his father, John is passionate about the Giants, yet quiet and reserved. During Media Day at the University of Phoenix Stadium, he conceded he can sometimes "cringe at some of [the trash-talking], but if we end up winning the game, that week it is a lot easier to live with."

As for how many family members would be in attendance, John Mara laughed.

"I want to say 61. I might be leaving out one or two. We have four generations coming. I had to make an allotment for my family to attend this game."

Clothes call

All week, the Giants have been wearing T-shirts that read: "Talk is cheap. Play the game." Yes, some of the players concede there's some twisted humor in it, given that there are a handful of Giants who love to talk. Even defensive end Osi Umenyiora laughed at what appeared to be a contrary angle. "Most of the talking has been coming from me," he said . . . An intrepid reporter told Coughlin he had done the research and discovered that teams that take the opening kickoff are 19-22 in Super Bowls. So, he wanted to know: Would Coughlin consider kicking off if he won the toss? "Yeah, that's what you want to do, give the Patriots the ball one more time, because they don't do well enough with it," the coach said . . . New York cornerback Sam Madison was on the Dolphins with Wes Welker a few seasons ago and indicated that Miami coaches missed the bus completely. "He was a workaholic. I knew [New England] was getting a very good player," said Madison. "We knew [opponents] were going to double-cover Chris Chambers and we knew they were going to double-cover Randy McMichael. All we had to do is plug Wes in there, but we didn't do it."

Seeing it both ways

The Patriots have talked openly about how their defensive effort was lacking in the 38-35 win Dec. 29 at the Meadowlands. What did Brandon Jacobs - who carried 15 times for 67 yards and a touchdown that night - think of that? "They're supposed to think that way," said the bruising tailback. "But we didn't play our best, either." . . . Bad omen for the Giants: Alicia Keys will perform pregame at her second Super Bowl. Her previous performance was in 2006 when the Patriots beat another NFC East team, Philadelphia, in Jacksonville, Fla. That night, Keys sang "America the Beautiful" before the game; this time she will be on stage with "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, daughter of onetime Giants cornerback Phillippi Sparks . . . From the how-times-change-department: It was 15 years ago that O.J. Simpson was given the honor for the Super Bowl opening coin toss and Michael Jackson was granted the OK to do the halftime show - accompanied by 3,500 children from the Pasadena, Calif., area.

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