Coughlin probed for minicamp program

Posted: Sunday, May 09, 2004

The NFL Players Association is investigating complaints about New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin's offseason training program.

NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said Friday night that his office wants to make sure the Giants are in accordance with the union's agreement with the league.

''We've agreed to a set of rules and we want to make sure everybody's following them,'' he told The Associated Press. ''We're investigating to look at it and see what happened.''

Speaking in East Rutherford, N.J., after a morning workout at his first minicamp as Giants coach, Coughlin said he was aware of the complaints but unable to elaborate.

''I don't know what the complaint is, so on and so forth,'' said Coughlin, a disciplinarian hired in January to turn around an underachieving team that went 4-12 last season. ''We have done everything the union has asked and forwarded all the information.

''Until I hear more, I don't have anything else to say.''

Upshaw confirmed that numerous players have complained about Coughlin's program, but did not elaborate.

''Until we can see what's there we can't speculate,'' Upshaw said.

Coughlin has changed the offseason schedule from a year ago.

Under Jim Fassel, the Giants worked Monday through Thursday. Coughlin's schedule has the team working Monday and Tuesday and Thursday and Friday. Both programs are voluntary, although NFL coaches don't appreciate it when players don't show up.

''It's a voluntary offseason program,'' Coughlin said. ''I hope there is 100 percent attendance.''

None of the players at minicamp acknowledged filing a complaint.

Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, the player representative, said players need to go to the union to protect their interests. He also offered an olive branch.

''The offseason is what it is and you can't make everyone happy,'' Strahan said. ''At the same time, I felt it was something that could have been handled in-house. It's not a big thing. I don't think it's anything to worry about.''

Cornerback Will Peterson said the only complaint he heard during the offseason program came when training was delayed one day, forcing players to stay longer.

''They want you here for a reason,'' Peterson said. ''They are trying to build a team. You want success as a team and to get that you need unity. The more we are here together, the better off we are.''

Center Shaun O'Hara, a player representative with the Browns before signing with the Giants as a free agent this year, didn't know of any problems with Coughlin's program.

If the Giants are found to have violated the collective bargaining agreement, they could lose a week of offseason workouts.

''This is not going to help us get where we want to be,'' O'Hara said. ''This is a moot point as far as I am concerned. It is outside of what we want to accomplish today, which is to get the Giants ready to play and win football games.''

Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is boycotting the Pittsburgh Steelers' minicamp, but his agent said it has nothing to do with his contract, which expires at the end of the season.

Coach Bill Cowher said he was disappointed.

''It is an unexcused absence,'' Cowher said. ''I'm very disappointed in his decision and we are ready to move on with or without him.''

Agent, Gene Mato said Burress wasn't attending the three-day minicamp because of a ''personal matter.''

49ers

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Pro Bowl linebacker Julian Peterson was a no-show Friday at the opening session of the San Francisco 49ers' first spring mini-camp.

Peterson is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this year after enjoying his best pro season in 2003. The 49ers designated him as their exclusive franchise player in February after contract negotiations broke down.

He has not signed his tendered franchise offer, and NFL rules stipulate that negotiations with franchise players cannot resume until July 15.

Peterson earned his second consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl last season after recording 144 tackles and leading the 49ers with seven sacks and three forced fumbles.

Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) Carson Palmer began his transition from backup quarterback to starter when the Cincinnati Bengals opened their rookie minicamp.

''I still feel like a rookie,'' Palmer said. ''Last year went by so fast.''

The former No. 1 draft pick could only watch as Jon Kitna took every snap for the Bengals last season.

Palmer said the game has ''slowed down'' since his first minicamp. He sees the field better and reacts quicker. It will take the new players a while to get that feeling.

''I know what it's like to be in their shoes and be in here for the first time,'' Palmer said. ''I definitely feel like I'm a lot further along than they are, but I still consider myself a rookie just because I don't have any (regular season) snaps.''

Coach Marvin Lewis called the first day ''a good indoctrination'' for Palmer and the newcomers.



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