New York Giants’ tight ends roles up in air

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


”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


”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


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


”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.”