In Keenan McCardell, Giants Wideouts Have All the Experience They Need

Max WillensCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2009

MIAMI - FEBRUARY 2:  Keenan McCardell of the San Diego Chargers arrives for the 2007 NFL Players Party hosted by The NFL Players Association and PLAYERS INC during Super Bowl XLI weekend February 2, 2007 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images for PLAYERS INC)

As you might have noticed, the New York Giants' wide receivers—the youngest, rawest, most unproven unit on this championship caliber team—have been drawing rave reviews at training camp.

Optimists expect that this is going to continue. They cite the fine collected pedigrees of the wide receiving corps, which is stocked with many former second (Steve Smith, Sinorice Moss) and first (Hakeem Nicks) round draft picks, players who battled against intense college competition (Big 10, SEC) and played for storied programs (Michigan, the University of Miami).

Others point out that Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin will be altering their offensive approach to better fit this group's talents, breaking from the molds they shaped for Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, and which Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith had trouble filling at the very end of last season. 

But if the Giants' wideouts can transform into a consistent threat, I believe that a lot of credit just might have to go to the veteran wide receiver that nobody is talking about: Keenan McCardell.

McCardell, a consummate veteran who played in the NFL for 16 years and amassed over 11,000 receiving yards, recently enrolled in the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship, a NFL program that provides minority applicants with the opportunity to work at training camps.

This his first foray into coaching, and it's probably come as no surprise to Coughlin, McCardell's former coach.

According to a report published on the Giants' official team Web site, McCardell had expressed an interest in coaching back when he was playing under Coughlin in Jacksonville.

Even then, Coughlin knew his young charge would be a good fit.

"Keenan was a very, very smart player," Coughlin told Giants' media. "[He] knew all the positions, knew the quarterback's reads—the whole deal."

"He can work with them [the Giants' wide-outs] on the little things and talk to them about how they need to act, their mannerisms and some of the subtleties at the position."

That focus on the little things is arguably most important for young players, and it's the one thing that the rookie coach can help players with the most.

A former 11th round draft choice out of UNLV, McCardell earned every single one of his 16 pro seasons, playing hurt—Coughlin recalls him playing for several weeks with a separated shoulder—but also playing smart.

That combination was good enough to earn him two trips to the Pro Bowl.

It's unclear whether the Giants will keep McCardell on as an assistant after training camp ends, but if they do he'll probably be able to take credit for a great deal of team success.