EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Tom Coughlin stood in the coaches' locker room inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center today and said, "This is not my favorite day by a longshot."
And today is his birthday.
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"It never gets easier, because every year the principals involved are different," said Coughlin, entering his 10th season with the Giants and his 18th as an NFL head coach. "My gut starts bothering me about two days before. The day of it I get the headache and the whole bit that goes with it. When you speak to these kids and you work with them and you see them, you do see their effort and what they put forth and how important it is to them. It's not an easy thing to stand there when a young man walks into his office and as soon as you put your hand out, he starts crying."
Coughlin had several emotional farewells today as the Giants made their transactions, including releasing quarterback David Carr, safety Tyler Sash and several young players who had caught the coach's eye but came up short in their quest to make the team.
"It's always difficult to let a guy go that you've had with you for a while," said Coughlin, whose team plays its first regular-season game on Sept. 8 in Dallas.
To reach the roster limit, the Giants made the following moves:
*They terminated the contracts of Carr and running back Ryan Torain.
*They waived Sash with an injury settlement.
*Offensive lineman Selvish Capers (knee) was waived/injured.
*Wide receiver Ramses Barden was placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.
*Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn was placed on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Kuhn, who tore his ACL at Cincinnati last Nov. 11, must miss at least the first six games of the season.
*Safety Will Hill was moved to the NFL's reserve/suspended list. The NFL announced on July 20 that Hill, a second-year pro, was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2013 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.
Hill will be eligible to return to the Giants' active roster on Monday, Sept. 30, following the team's game the previous day against the Kansas City Chiefs.
*The following players were waived: defensive ends Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Matt Broha; defensive tackle Marvin Austin; linebacker Kyle Bosworth; offensive linemen Eric Herman, Matt McCants, Stephen Goodin and Bryant Browning; safety David Caldwell; cornerbacks Terrence Frederick and Charles James; and wide receivers Kevin Hardy, Marcus Harris and Julian Talley.
Carr had been Eli Manning's backup for four of the previous five seasons. But four-year veteran Curtis Painter will be the primary backup and rookie Ryan Nassib made the team as the third quarterback.
"We simply based it on the preseason," Coughlin said of the decision to keep Painter, who last played in 2011 for the Indianapolis Colts. "From the standpoint of all the evaluations, it pointed to the fact that Painter had a better preseason.
"We'll miss David Carr around here, to be honest with you. He's done an outstanding job directing our second offense and our scout team. He has the ability to do whatever we ask of him in that regard. He can run the option, he can be the running quarterback if you want him to do that. Ryan Nassib is going to have to step up and be that guy when you're talking about the teams we play that have a running quarterback."
This is the first time since 2007 the Giants will have three quarterbacks on their regular-season roster.
"When we drafted (Nassib), then you have an idea that you're going to have to develop young quarterback," Coughlin said. "That's what his role is. So be it if that's what it takes.
"From the standpoint of strategy, you have to understand that many times the balancing act stops at the quarterback position, because there is no way to trade off if in fact you are developing a young man. In our case, you have a veteran player to go along with it."
The departures of Tracy, Ojomo and Broha leaves Justin Trattou as the team's fifth defensive end, with Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and rookie Damontre Moore. Trattou, originally signed in 2011 as a free agent from Florida, spent the 2012 season on injured reserve.
"Trattou has the ability to help us out in a lot of different ways both from scrimmage and special teams," Coughlin said. "There were four young men who were very much in contention for that job. Broha was very much involved in that, too. Quite frankly, it was very, very close. We made a decision really based on an individual that was ranked a little bit higher on special teams."
Coughlin said tough decisions also had to be made at defensive tackle, where veterans Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson remain on the roster instead of Austin.
"They (Rogers and Patterson) played well," Coughlin said. "They deserve it. The other night (in the preseason finale in New England) they played 20-something plays and did a nice job not only in changing the line of scrimmage, but we brought them back after the half, so they demonstrated the ability to do that."
Herman was the only member of the Giants' seven-man 2013 draft class to be released. He was selected in the seventh round. The other six members of the class are currently on the roster: Justin Pugh, Johnathan Hankins, Moore, Nassib, Cooper Taylor and Michael Cox.
Cox was the second-to-last player selected in the draft, 253rd overall, but he overcame the odds and could help the Giants in a variety of roles.
"He has demonstrated outstanding ability as a kick returner," Coughlin said. "We put him at gunner and he was a good gunner. You send him down on kickoffs and he did a nice job with that. He has shown endurance and power and strength and the attitude anywhere you put him. We preach it all the time. You make the team because of your contributions on special teams. You have a great chance. That's what he did."
Here is a look at the players the Giants released today:
Carr was Manning's backup in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 (he spent the 2010 season with the San Francisco 49ers). Last year, he played in two games and threw three passes.
Torain is a fifth-year pro who was previously with Denver and Washington; he played in two games for the Giants last season.
Sash was a sixth-round draft choice in 2011 who played in all 16 regular-season games and four postseason games as a rookie and in seven games last year as a reserve defensive back and a special teamer.
Austin was a second-round draft choice in 2011 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He played in eight games last season and was credited with five tackles.
Tracy was a sixth-round draft choice in 2010. He spent a season on injured reserve and another on the practice squad before playing in all 16 games last season. He had nine tackles, including a sack.
Ojomo played in one game last season after signing with the Giants as a rookie free agent. He led the Giants with 4.0 sacks in the 2012 preseason.
Broha joined the team as a rookie free agent in 2012 and spent the entire season on the Giants' practice squad.
Bosworth joined the Giants on May 30 after spending the previous three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Caldwell played in all 16 games for the Indianapolis Colts in 2011 but was out of football last season. He was signed by the Giants on Jan. 8.
McCants was a sixth-round selection in 2012 who spent most of last season on the Giants' practice squad.
Capers was originally signed by the Giants in 2011, when he was placed on and off the practice squad nine times. He played in his first three regular-season games in 2012 as a reserve lineman and on special teams.
Goodin joined the Giants as a rookie free agent in 2012 and spent the last six weeks of the season on the practice squad.
Browning was signed by the Giants on Jan. 8 after he had stints with three other teams. He has played in one NFL regular-season game.
Herman was a seventh-round draft choice this year, the 225th overall selection.
Frederick was signed to the Giants' practice squad on Sept. 8, 2012 and to the active roster on Dec. 15. He played in two games and had two special teams tackles.
James was signed as a rookie free agent on May 10. He led the Giants in the preseason with seven punt returns for a 10.0-yard average.
Hardy was in camp with the New Orleans Saints in 2012 and was signed by the Giants on Jan. 3. He had one catch in the preseason.
Harris joined the Giants on Aug. 12 and had three preseason receptions for 71 yards.
Talley, who was in camp with the Giants last year, rejoined the team on July 31 and was tied for second on the team with seven receptions (for 98 yards) in the preseason.
Barden, who was with the team the previous four seasons, re-signed with the Giants on May 23. He had five catches for 38 yards in the preseason.
Hill played in 12 games for the 2012 Giants and had 30 tackles (26 solo) on defense and 13 stops on special teams.
Here is the current Giants roster, which is subject to change before they fly to Dallas to begin the season:
QB (3): Eli Manning, Curtis Painter, Ryan Nassib
RB: (4): David Wilson, Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott, Michael Cox
FB (1): Henry Hynoski
WR (5): Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan
TE (4): Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell
OL: (9): David Diehl, Chris Snee, Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Justin Pugh, Jim Cordle, Brandon Mosley, James Brewer
DE (5): Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore, Justin Trattou
DT (5): Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson
LB (5): Dan Connor, Keith Rivers, Spencer Paysinger, Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams
CB (6): Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Aaron Ross, Terrell Thomas, Jayron Hosley, Trumaine McBride
S (3): Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, Cooper Taylor
K: Josh Brown
P: Steve Weatherford
LS: Zak DeOssie