EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Michael Pope of the Giants is preparing for his 29th consecutive season as an NFL assistant coach and is regarded as the NFL's foremost teacher of tight ends. When Pope bestows a high rating and a favorable report on a tight end prior to the annual NFL Draft, the Giants will take a long look at that player.
So it was in 2007, when Pope was enthused about a relatively unknown tight end from Western Oregon, a small not known for its football prowess located in Monmouth, Ore. The Giants selected Kevin Boss on the fifth round of the draft that year – the 153rd overall pick. They're glad they did, because Boss has since provided more evidence that Pope is an expert evaluator of tight ends.
Boss took over as the starting tight end late in his rookie season after Jeremy Shockey suffered a broken leg. He started every game in the Giants' four-game postseason run and his 45-yard catch was the game's longest in their Super Bowl XLII victory over New England.
Since his arrival, Boss has caught 18 touchdown passes, the highest total by any Giants player in the last four years.
Boss has played in 57 regular season games with 45 starts and has 119 career receptions for 1,600 yards (13.4-yard avg.) and 18 touchdowns in the regular season and eight catches for 142 yards in five postseason games.
In 2010, Boss played in 15 games with 13 starts and finished the season with 35 receptions for 531 yards and five touchdowns, the third year in a row he had at least five scores. His 15.2-yards-per-catch average was the second highest on the team behind Mario Manningham's 15.7.
Boss caught at least one pass in 14 of the 15 games in which he played. He did not have a catch at Green Bay on Dec. 26, ending his streak of 33 games in which he played with at least one reception.
His season got off to a rough starter when he suffered a concussion when hit from behind by Carolina safety Sherrod Martin with 11:40 remaining in the first quarter (on the Giants' first offensive series of the season) on Sept. 12. He missed the following week's game in Indianapolis (9/19).
Boss' 54-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter vs. Tennessee on Sept. 26 was the longest reception of his career. He scored the game-winning touchdown vs. Jacksonville on Nov. 28 on a 32-yard catch-and-run.
Bear Pascoe was the second-busiest tight end on the Giants' roster last season, but he actually spent more time at fullback after Madison Hedgecock suffered a season-ending hamstring injury. Pascoe started 11 games, was an outstanding blocker on the line and in the backfield, and caught nine passes.
Travis Beckum, a second-year pro in 2010, played in all 16 games with three starts and had 13 receptions, including his first two career touchdowns.
Jake Ballard, who suited up for one game last year as a rookie free agent, is also on the roster and will compete for playing time.