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Giants wrap up minicamp determined not to repeat playoff loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- After blowing the final whistle to end a three-day minicamp on Thursday, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin gathered his team in the corner of the fieldhouse and gave them a passionate 18-minute speech.

The message? Do not forget the disappointment of 2008.

Coming off a Super Bowl win, the Giants (12-4) posted the best record in the NFC and then flopped at home in their first playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

"They need to think long and hard about the disappointment of January in terms of what we have created for ourselves and how badly we want to prioritize our 2009 season," Coughlin said.

Veterans said there were four key points to Coughlin's message heading into the six-week vacation before the opening of training camp at the University at Albany in August.

Remember last year. Work hard to be ready for camp. Be accountable to your teammates on and off the field -- a clear reference to receiver Plaxico Burress letting down the team last season by shooting himself in the leg.

The final thought pertained to the team as a whole. Coughlin let the players know this was a group that still had all the ingredients and was capable of winning another Super Bowl.

"This year, what I am saying is that, 'Stop and think about the bitterness of the January situation,' and then realize that as in, for example, the Laker team, you can focus on that as a primary motivational position to take," Coughlin said, referring to the Los Angeles Lakers winning an NBA title a year after losing in the finals. "And let that be something that you train for over the summer, the idea of getting to and surpassing the circumstance that we were in a year ago."

Defensive tackle Barry Cofield thinks the Giants built a solid base in the offseason with most of the players working hard at the voluntary workouts.

The difficult part now will be to continue the work over the next six weeks.

"We need to make sure we are in great shape when we get back," Cofield said. "It used to be you would go to camp to get in shape. Now it's a year-round job and you're expected to be ready to go when you get there. Guys are going to take that seriously and I am sure the memory of last year will give them all the extra motivation they need."

Running back Brandon Jacobs felt certain the Giants were a team that was capable of defending its Super Bowl title last season.

"We stubbed our toes. ... and didn't deliver," Jacobs said. "It's a new season and we got a new team and a lot of young talent. We are ready to go."

Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said it's hard not to be excited about next season when he looks around the locker room.

"We have all the pieces here," Kiwanuka said. "Like I said, we have to prove that week in and week out, or else it means nothing."

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride enjoyed Coughlin's speech.

"I thought he spoke from the heart, I really did," Gilbride said. "And I thought he addressed the things that needed to be said. I kind of like when he does that because I'm thinking, 'You know what, he is hitting, he is right on the mark with some of the things that he is saying.'

"We feel good about where we are at but we also know that if we don't have those guys back health-wise and guys aren't in the right frame of mind, or in the right level of conditioning, then we are not going to make the progress."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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