New York Giants' tight ends roles up in air

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Losing Kevin Boss to the Oakland Raiders has left Eli Manning without one of his favorite targets and the New York Giants looking for answers at tight end.

Right now, the Giants have five tight ends in training camp. None of them can seemingly replace Boss, who got a reported $16 million over four years from the Raiders.

Travis Beckum has the best hands of the five, but he is not as accomplished a blocker as Boss.

Bear Pascoe, Jake Ballard and Ben Patrick are blocking tight ends, while free agent Christian Hopkins is a 26-year-old with a lot to prove.

Bottom line is the Giants could use a complete tight end in camp.

''Obviously, we would have liked to have him here,'' coach Tom Coughlin said of Boss after learning he signed. ''We have five guys in here that are now going to have to compete for a job.''

Boss had 35 catches for 531 yards and five touchdowns last season, his third as New York's starting tight end.

''I'm ready to do whatever I have to do and whatever they ask me to do,'' Beckum said. ''I think that I have done a good job with whatever they asked me to do. I took advantage of everything, whether it was coming out of the backfield, at the Y or being in there during goal line.''

Beckum's problem has been consistency. The third-year pro has shown flashes in games and looked just as lost on the field at other times.

Beckum insisted his consistency will improve with more work in practice.

''Most of my reps last year were when Kevin was in the game but we are down a tight end,'' said Beckum, a third-round draft choice who had 21 receptions and two TD catches in two years. ''People have to step up, especially when people leave.''

It's hard to say whether Pascoe is a tight end or a fullback. He started 11 games last season playing the fullback lead blocking role after Madison Hedgecock was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Pascoe has been playing both positions in the opening week of training camp, and he isn't sure whether his role will change with Boss gone.

''I really really enjoy fullback; it is a lot of fun,'' Pascoe said. ''I love playing tight end. If I end up playing the same role as last year that would be great, doing a little bit of both and moving around. Be up on the line one play and in the backfield on the next. It will allow us a great weapon.''

Ballard spent most of last season on the practice squad but was active for one game.

''With Kevin gone there is a big void that needs to be filled,'' Ballard said. ''All the tight ends will try to fill it and get better every day. We'll see where it goes from there.''

Ballard looks a little more comfortable in his second year on the team. His blocking seemingly has gotten better, but his pass catching remains a question mark.

''I ran a lot this offseason trying to work on my speed and my cuts,'' Ballard said. ''I am trying to be more a two-way threat instead of just a blocking tight end, but I know that's where I am going to get on the team, as a blocker. I am going to keep trying to get better in the passing aspects of the game.''

NOTES: The Giants made a couple of roster moves on Friday, waiving-injured cornerback Bruce Johnson, while signing cornerback Darnell Burks.

Johnson ruptured his right Achilles tendon in practice Thursday.

''Very sorry and very sad about Bruce,'' Coughlin said. ''Bruce had (injuries) two (years) in a row, the ACL knee and now the Achilles. We were all stunned by it because there was no reason why it should have happened. He was just backpedaling.''

Tagged: Giants, Kevin Boss, Bear Pascoe, Travis Beckum, Bruce Johnson, Jake Ballard

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