EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ
Just three years ago, Boss was a relatively unknown rookie tight end from tiny Western Oregon, soaking up direction and advice from his brash mentor, four-time Pro Bowler Jeremy Shockey. Now Boss is an entrenched starter, a respected and reliable player who now helps the less experienced tight ends as the senior member of the group.
Boss will have an opportunity to hone his mentoring skills during the Giants' organized team activities (OTAs), which continued today. The team announced that Boss is scheduled to undergo an arthroscopic procedure to debride his right ankle on Monday. Recovery time for the procedure, which will be performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley of the Hospital for Special Surgery, is 4-6 weeks.
So instead of running patterns and catching passes from Eli Manning during the spring drills, Boss will be tutoring Bear Pascoe, Scott Chandler, Travis Beckum, Carson Butler and Jake Ballard (who is not yet here because he is fulfilling his academic requirements at Ohio State). All are rookies or first or second-year pros.
"It's kind of funny to look back, because it literally feels like just yesterday I was coming in as a rookie and I had Shockey to mentor me," Boss said. "The years slide by and here I am one of the older tight ends and I'm trying to do all I can to help those guys out."
Beckum, a third-round draft choice last year, is more of a receiver than a traditional tight end. "Kevin and I don't play the same position," Beckum said. But Pascoe, 6-5 and 251 pounds, and Chandler, 6-7 and 272 pounds, are similar in build and style to the 6-6, 253-pound Boss.
Pascoe was a 2009 sixth-round draft choice by the San Francisco 49ers. The Giants signed him to their practice squad last Sept. 15 and to the active roster on Dec. 4. He played in four games and caught one pass.
"I hate to see that happen to Kevin," Pascoe said. "But he's tough and he'll come back from it. It means he'll come back stronger for training camp. It's definitely a chance for me to get more reps and improve my game and show all the coaches that I can step up and fill that number two spot and prove that I need to be here."
Chandler entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in 2007. He played in one game that year, then spent the 2008 season on injured reserve with a toe injury. He was released in 2009 and signed with Dallas. The Giants signed him off the Cowboys' practice squad on Dec. 23 and Chandler was inactive for the season's final two games.
"It's unfortunate for Kevin," Chandler said. "Obviously, we need him. We have to pick up the slack and get out there and make some plays. For me, it's an opportunity to get a lot of reps. I'm not familiar with everything yet – I haven't been here too long – but I'm trying to learn fast."
Tight ends coach Michael Pope told Boss to help the other tight ends as much as possible during the OTAs. So after every snap today, Boss would counsel his young protégés on blocking technique or, more often, running routes.
"It was nice to see it from a different angle and see what they're doing and try to give them as much advice as I could," Boss said. "A lot of our stuff is reacting to what the secondary and the defense gives. We have a lot of option routes and you have different options. You have to make the right reads, and for young guys it's a bit of a struggle. It took me a while to get some of those option routes down. So I'm trying to be out there to help those guys out.
"I think we're all young and eager to learn. This will be a great opportunity for them to get some reps and get an opportunity to get out on the field and gain some experience."
Chandler and Pascoe said Boss has been helpful, on and off the field.
"He does a great job leading our tight end group," Chandler said. "He takes us all and invites us all over to his place and helps us with anything we need. Every time I go over (to Boss after a play is run) I ask what he saw and what I could have done better and what he would have done."
"He is a great mentor," Pascoe said. "I try to learn as much as I can from him. After every play I'm in I come off and ask him questions – what can I do better? He's a great mentor and a great friend. He's telling me everything I can do to improve myself. You couldn't ask for a better guy."
Boss had 82 catches in his first three seasons, so Pascoe is particularly eager to tap his expertise as a receiver.
"I think I'm probably a little further along as a blocker, because that was my forte at Fresno (State)," Pascoe said. "That's what I really concentrated on last year, being that number two blocking tight end.
"I had a nickname in college, '10 Toes Pascoe,' because I couldn't catch anything. I came back the following year and didn't drop a pass. It's all practicing, concentrating each play and doing it the best you can."
Boss first hurt his ankle in the third game of the 2009 season, at Kansas City. He sat out the following week's game vs. Oakland, but played in every other contest and finished fourth on the Giants with 42 receptions. "The whole season I kept having little tweaks in there that made for a long season with my ankle," Boss said.
Boss hoped to avoid surgery. He stayed off his feet for a month after the season with the idea that rest would heal the ankle. But when he began working in the offseason conditioning program, it still wasn't right.
"When I got back to working out, running straight ahead didn't bother me," he said. "But as soon as the change of direction stuff started picking up, that really started aggravating it and we had to do something. It's something that's been bothering me since the season. Maybe I was a little too optimistic in thinking I could get through another season. We did a few things to try to help alleviate some of the pain. It didn't help as much as I was hoping. So we're going to go in and clean it out and (I will) be more than ready for training camp.
"I didn't want to miss OTAs. I wanted to be out there and I didn't want to have to take any time off from training. It was hard for me to finally make that decision to go in there and get it done. As athletes, we get a little too competitive and lose sight of the real goal, which is getting ready for the season."
Coach Tom Coughlin said he expects Boss to be ready for training camp, which is expected to begin the first week of August.
*Safety Kenny Phillips, who underwent surgery on his left knee in September, isn't working in the OTAs, but he was on the field with his helmet and put himself in the middle of several defensive huddles.
"I can't wait (to play)," Phillips said. "We made a lot of key additions to the defense and I can't wait to play with those guys. I miss them."
Coughlin said Phillips is running and making progress, but didn't make a definitive statement abut the safety's prognosis for training camp. Phillips, however, believes he will be ready.
"That's my goal," Phillips said. "I'm on track for that. I think we're just being cautious right now. The doctors and the trainers are (giving me) nothing but good reports. I feel great. No pain, no swelling. We're just being safe. We have no reason to rush it. We're just taking our time."
*Running back Ahmad Bradshaw, who had surgery on both feet and an ankle, wasn't expected to practice, but ran well in limited work.
"He can do some things," Coughlin said. "He is very restricted. But he can do some things."
"Right now I'm out there full-go as much as I can," Bradshaw said. "I'm just taking it slow right now. Just a couple of reps here and there and everything is coming along."
*Another running back, Andre Brown, was thrilled to participate on a limited basis after missing his rookie season following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
"It feels good," Brown said. "They had to pull me out a little bit. I did a couple of running plays out there and made a few cuts. I feel like I'm getting there – I'm about 95 percent. I shouldn't be limited by training camp. By the end of next week I should pretty much be doing everything. My Achilles is fine.
"This almost feels like last year – getting into the new environment. This year, I know the plays, but my body has to catch up with the speed."
Coughlin said, "He has had a couple of setbacks this winter, but by and large he is doing okay. They list him as limited, but I think that by the time we get to camp hopefully that will be taken off."
*Defensive end Justin Tuck, a full participant, said his surgically-repaired shoulder feels good
*Jonathan Goff was the first-middle linebacker, but Coughlin cautioned into reading too much into that.
"They are rotating in and out," Coughlin said. "They are all going to work. It is springtime and they are all going to get all kinds of work. It is not going to be any set anything."
Gerris Wilkinson was the second-team middle linebacker.
*Offensive lineman Kevin Boothe, who will undergo surgery next week to repair a torn pectoral muscle, will not be ready for training camp.
"That is an extensive thing," Coughlin said. "I don't see training camp, no."
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