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Strahan: Too soon for Manning

By wire services
Published April 30, 2004

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan has concerns about the future of the Giants after the team's decision to waive Kerry Collins and make Eli Manning the starting quarterback.

Strahan conceded that the NFL's top draft pick might be a franchise quarterback for the next 15 years, but said he had lowered his expectations for this season since a rookie would be running the offense.

"I am not saying we don't have an opportunity with Eli Manning as the quarterback, but there is a difference when you have a rookie as opposed to a veteran player, and that's at any position," said Strahan, a 12-year veteran who also was disappointed for Collins. "It's just a bad situation for a guy who has done a lot and done well for this organization, everything they've asked him to do. I guess when you're a quarterback you get blamed for all those things."

Expectations for the Giants were raised during the offseason after they finished 4-12.

Tom Coughlin replaced Jim Fassel as coach in January. The Giants were also active during free agency, bolstering their offensive and defensive lines.

Collins, who led the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2001, was going to make it all go at quarterback.

Those plans were changed in less than a week.

Manning was acquired from the Chargers on Saturday in a draft-day trade. Collins was waived Wednesday after refusing to rework his contract. He was to make $7-million in salary.

The release of Collins made Manning the starter.

"As an older player in this league and on this team, you just hope that it's not a situation where we sit back and wait for somebody, three, four or five years down the road to develop," Strahan, 32, said. "Because by the time it happens, I doubt I'll be here to enjoy it."

Strahan said the situation was not Manning's fault. He said the players would welcome him and try to help make him better.

"Management brought him in and management has him in the starting lineup," Strahan said.

Manning will participate in a minicamp that begins Thursday.

Some veterans were optimistic.

"We didn't come here to take a step backward," receiver Ike Hilliard said. "Michael Strahan and other leaders on this team will rally as a group and back the organization."

COUCH UPDATE: Browns quarterback Tim Couch, who has been talking to the Packers, was given permission to talk to the Bears in hopes of pulling off a trade.

Browns spokesman Todd Stewart said Bears general manager Jerry Angelo contacted coach Butch Davis on Wednesday.

Chicago's interest comes just days after it drafted Ohio State's Craig Krenzel in the fifth round. Rex Grossman, a first-round pick last season, is the projected starter.

The Packers have been negotiating with agent Tom Condon for weeks in an attempt to get Couch as a backup to Brett Favre.

RAIDERS: Free-agent running back Amos Zereoue signed. Zereoue, who played five seasons with the Steelers, should get a chance to play after Oakland lost free agent Charlie Garner to the Bucs. Zereoue will compete with Tyrone Wheatley and Justin Fargas. In other news, Oakland is interested in free-agent quarterback Kerry Collins, the Contra Costa Times reported.

VIKINGS: Receiver Randy Moss settled a lawsuit with a traffic-control agent he knocked down with his car nearly two years ago. A trial was set to begin May 17 after Amy Zaccardi sued Moss last year. Terms were not released. Zaccardi was directing traffic in Minneapolis when she said Moss refused her direction. He turned illegally, hitting her and slowly pushing her about a half block before she was knocked down. She sought more than $50,000.

[Last modified April 30, 2004, 01:05:39]

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