"We don't bring guys in just for the fun of it," general manager Jerry Reese said at his training camp opening news conference. "If we bring a guy in, we're serious about the possibility of signing him to our football club."
Reese confirmed that Burress is expected to arrive at the Timex Performance Center at approximately 6 p.m. to meet with Coach Tom Coughlin. What that will lead to, nobody knows. But the first step toward Burress' potential return to the team is his sitdown with the coach.
"The most important thing is for him to talk to the head coach," Reese said. "And after that, we'll see where it goes. They're going to have a closed-door, face-to-face, man-to-man meeting.
Coughlin and Burress didn't always eye-to-eye in the past, but the receiver will find more than just an open door when he steps toward the coach's office.
"I'm looking forward to it," Coughlin said. "I'll be open-minded about it. It's an opportunity for us in a confidential setting to sit down and really what I feel will be Plaxico's opportunity to speak. I'm going to listen and decipher and I'll ask questions. But basically, I would like to hear what he has to say."
Burress was sometimes fined by Coughlin for transgressions like missing treatments or arriving late for meetings. Coughlin suspended Burress for one game in 2008. A stickler for rules and punctuality, Coughlin clearly is not going to alter his attitude for one player. Nor, he noted, should he.
"What is there to change?" Coughlin said. "When you sign on to go to work with somebody, basically you have to go to work. You have to be there. You have to get there on time. What's there to change? When you come right down to it, that's the basic ingredient …jump into the team as hard as you can, as fast as you can, be a part of the team, but understand your responsibility. People depend on you."
Burress played for the Giants from 2005-08. In 57 regular season games, he caught 244 passes – 12th in team history – for 3,681 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also caught the game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass with 35 seconds remaining in the Giants' Super Bowl XLII victory over New England.
But late in the 2008 season, Burress accidently shot himself in a New York City nightclub. He subsequently accepted a plea deal that resulted in a 19-month prison sentence. Burress was released on June 6.
Burress, who will turn 34 on Aug. 12, now very much wants to resume his NFL career. Whether he has any chance to do that with the Giants will be in part determined by his meeting with Coughlin.
"That's the first step," Coughlin said. "How I feel after that I will communicate to Jerry and to ownership and we'll make a decision and go from there.
"It would be a good starting point if it's a positive meeting and we decide we would like to hear the next stage, then we could talk about the next stage."
Since his release from prison, Burress has not refrained from criticizing Coughlin. Given their sometimes prickly relationship, why did Coughlin consent to meet with Burress?
"Number one, ownership would like to think that we can sit down and talk about it," Coughlin said. "And secondly, this is business. It's not personal for me. It's business and I can separate the two. I have no ego in terms of what I have to accomplish with regard to him or anyone else. I'm willing to listen."
The Giants seem more concerned with learning about Burress' frame of mind than his physical condition. Reese stressed he believes there is no value in putting Burress through a workout.
"If you're away for two years and we work you out, you'll probably look like you've been away for two years. So what's the point?" Reese said. "I don't see the point of bringing a guy in and working him out when he's been away for two years. He's going to look like he's been away for two years. He's a genetically-gifted athlete, but we don't expect him to go out there and look like he played last year. So I don't see the point to do that."
"We all know this – he's a very rare athlete," Coughlin said.
What's far more important than a few wind sprints is Burress' meeting with Coughlin.
"He's going to talk to the coach and we'll see where it goes from there," Reese said. "We wouldn't bring him in if we were not serious about him being a New York Giant if everything goes like we want it to go. We'll see what happens after he speaks with the coach."