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Pierce talks football, not Burress guilty plea

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Plaxico Burress case is seemingly decided, and Antonio Pierce still isn't saying much about it.

Pierce had plenty to say Monday about the New York Giants after their dismal second preseason game, but the middle linebacker refused to comment on his former teammate's decision last week to plead guilty to a weapons charge and accept two years in prison.

With time off for good behavior, Burress will have to serve at least 20 months. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.

"I am not talking about that," Pierce said during a lunch break at the Giants training camp at the University of Albany.

In the nine months since Burress accidentally shot himself in a Manhattan nightclub, Pierce has said very little about his role in the incident.

Authorities have said Pierce drove Burress to a hospital and then drove the gun to his own home in New Jersey and arranged for it to be taken later to Burress' home.

Pierce testified last month before a grand jury, which declined to indict him for his role in the incident.

Since then, the only thing Pierce has said about the matter is that he acted reasonably, responsibly and instinctively in aiding his now former teammate, and that he had no regrets about his actions.

In Monday's comments, Pierce talked only about the Giants on the field. The one question asked about Burress, he turned aside.

But he had plenty to say about football in the wake of the Giants' embarrassing 17-3 loss to the Bears in Chicago.

Pierce, who is nursing a sore foot, watched the game on television and saw New York's usually solid defense give up scoring drives of 80 and 92 yards to the Bears' first-team offense and allow 150 yards rushing on 34 carries.

After watching tapes of the game, Pierce said there were too many mental errors, missed assignments and missed tackles.

"No need to panic," he said. "If somebody else wants to push the panic button, they can. Antonio Pierce and the New York Giants will not do that. We're going to go back and work hard. That's what we are going to do. No need to push the panic button. Until they give the preseason Super Bowl away, we're not worried about that. It's a game, you learn from your mistakes."

Pierce, who plans to practice this week, insisted that the Giants have two weeks to get everything straightened out on defense, starting with this weekend's annual preseason game against the Jets. He also downplayed the injuries that have reduced the team's depth on defense.

None of the three major free agents the Giants signed in the offseason have played in the preseason. Defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, who was on the non-football injury list until last week, expects to see action this weekend.

Defensive tackle Chris Canty (torn hamstring) and linebacker Michael Boley (hip surgery) are coming along slower.

"There are teams throughout the league that are dealing with the same problems we are dealing with," Pierce said. "Guys getting nicked up at this time of year, guys getting back in the groove of it, and your body adjusting to the hitting, and the movement. By September 13th, guys will be ready and eager to go."

Boley is still on the physically-unable-to-perform list, and the NFL suspended him for the first game for a domestic issue.

Pierce insisted that the players are not worried about depth, saying almost every season starters get hurt and somebody steps up to take their place.

"You want to see guys flying to the ball," Pierce said. "You gotta see the effort, you have to see the things we did three of the last four years when we were top 10 in defense. You want guys being physical, intimidating, getting after the quarterback, stopping the run, all the things that are fundamental of the defense. I think we have the ability to do it, but we have to go out there and do it."

The Giants open their season at home on Sept. 13 against Washington.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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