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GM Reese ready to tackle 2012


No one can accuse Jerry Reese of stretching out his Super Bowl celebration.

"That's over with," the Giants' general manager said at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. "It was good while it lasted, but we're on to the next season. After the parade, we went right into our pre-draft meeting before we come to the combine and start to build a new team."

The Giants have numerous issues to address as they head into their second offseason as NFL champions in five years. Reese responded to questions about several of them at his annual combine news conference.

One of the oft-discussed concerns among fans is whether running back Brandon Jacobs and/or defensive end Osi Umenyiora will be wearing a Giants uniform when the 2012 season begins in September. At this early date, Reese can't give a definitive answer, but indicated he'd like both to remain with the only professional team they've played for.

"We're still in that process," Reese said. "We still have some discussions to go with respect to that. Hopefully, we can bring both of those guys back. They've both been really good football players for us. And we're hopeful that we can bring them both back."

Umenyiora, who just completed his ninth season, has one year remaining on a contract that he has expressed unhappiness with in the past. Reese did not rule out the possibility of offering Umenyiora an extension.

"We have a lot to talk about," Reese said. "It could happen. But right now we have a lot of issues to look at. We have to formulate a good game plan and see if we can get it done."

Reese said he hasn't spoken to Umenyiora since the Giants' parade, two days after their Super Bowl XLVI triumph over New England.

"I think he loves the Giants," Reese said. "The guy loves to play football. He's been with us his entire career and I think he'd like to retire a Giant. I can't speak for him…just guessing, I think that's what his feelings are."

Reese was asked if resolving the Umenyiora uncertainty was "pressing."

"I don't know if we can frame it as pressing," he said. "But it's offseason business and we'll look into it. Just like we have a lot of issues we need to look into during this offseason. It's a long time before we play again, so we have some time."

Unlike Jacobs and Umenyiora, wide receiver Mario Manningham is a free agent. Manningham, who made a sensational and critical reception to open the Giants' game-winning drive in the Super Bowl, might seek a contract that's out of the Giants' price range. Reese would prefer to keep Manningham, but believes the Giants have potential replacements in-house if he can't.

"I think we have some good players that we want to come along," Reese said. "We drafted (Jerrel) Jernigan in the third round (last year); we expect him to play. We expect him to make a jump. Ramses Barden, who we drafted a couple of years ago and had some injury issues, we expect him to contribute as well. Obviously, we'll continue to look if we can't bring Mario back."

Tight end became a position of concern in the Super Bowl, when both Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum suffered torn ACLs. Each underwent surgery last week and Reese said earlier that they will likely be on the physically unable to perform list when training camp opens. So the Giants will certainly look closely at the available tight ends in free agency and the draft.

"Right now, we only have a couple of tight ends that are healthy, so that's definitely a concern for us," Reese said. "We have the two guys that had the ACL surgery. We have Bear Pascoe who's healthy and we have a young practice squad kid that we like, Christian Hopkins. So that's a concern for us. We'll address it somehow, with the draft or free agency, but we'll definitely look to address that. And hopefully, those guys with the ACLs will be back at some point."

Reese discussed several other issues with reports at the combine:

*On how every team misjudged Victor Cruz, who wasn't drafted in 2010, but caught 82 passes for a Giants-record 1,536 yards in the regular season.

"We missed him, too, because we had him labeled just like everybody else, just a local free agent," Reese said. "He had a couple of redeeming qualities that we liked. We liked that he had some quickness, we liked his hands, we liked how he understood the offense. But we had him rated just like everybody else had him - an undrafted, local free agent. If he wasn't a local free agent, obviously, we wouldn't have brought him in.

"You get lucky like that sometimes like that in scouting. That's the beauty of it. You go to some schools and you see these big height, weight, speed guys that played for four years at a high level of competition and you see a guy like Victor Cruz play at a low level of comp and just kind of look like a guy. And all of a sudden he's in there and he's making great plays for you. That's that beauty of scouting and personnel. It's not a perfect science, but we try to get more right than we get wrong."

*On the credit for Cruz's rapid ascent as a player:

"It goes to Victor more than anything else," Reese said. "He worked hard, he came in and took advantage of his opportunity. And obviously his coaches worked hard with him. But most of the credit should go to Victor, for his work ethic and what he put into it and he took advantage of the chance that was given to him. And our quarterback – that's one of the things we liked about Eli Manning coming out of Ole Miss, that he made guys around him better. and I don't think there's any question that he made Victor a better football player.

*On selecting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul with the 15th choice of the 2010 draft, despite the player having only one season of major college experience.

"We just thought he was an elite athlete, number one, and his height, weight, speed were off the charts," Reese said. "We thought we really weren't taking that big of a risk to draft a young man like him. He still hasn't scratched the surface – we don't think – as to what he can be. We guessed right."

In 2011, Pierre-Paul had 16.5 sacks, the fourth-highest total in Giants history. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for December – when he was twice selected Player of the Week.

"The sky's the limit," Reese said. "We think he can be a terrific player for a long time for us. He's a terrific kid and he really wants to learn. He gives great effort all the time. The sky's the limit for him."

*On how he weighs a prospect's season-long performance vs. his performance in the postseason.

"At the all-star games and the bowl games, they can help themselves," Reese said. "We really don't hurt guys at the all-star games, because they've been off for a while and they're in a different environment. They can only help themselves. We try to use the all-star games to validate what we saw back in the fall. But most of our evaluation is from what they did with their teams in the fall."

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