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Shockey Relents; Will Join Off-Season Program...
As initially reported by insider Len Pasquarelli, tight end Jeremy Shockey, absent so far from off-season workouts and recently challenged to return by head coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning was en route to New York on Tuesday evening to join Giants teammates for the conditioning program.

Pasquarelli went on to remind readers that Shockey has spent much of the offseason to this point in Miami, working out with former college teammates and other league players, and suggesting his regimen there is perhaps even more challenging than the team's program.

Former Hurricanes Santana Moss, Edgerrin James, Willis McGahee, Bubba Franks and Reggie Wayne are among those working with him. New teammate Plaxico Burress also took part in the Miami sessions before reporting to New York.

And as he traveled to the airport Tuesday, Shockey told Pasquarelli that his boycott of the voluntary workouts were meant neither as an affront to Coughlin or his teammates. Instead, he continues to believe the workouts remain the best way to challenge himself and prepare for the rigors of the season. There is, both Shockey and agent Drew Rosenhaus maintained, no hidden agenda.

"There is no mystery," said Shockey, the team's first-round pick in the 2002 draft. "It's just the way that I believe is best for me to get ready. This is about me helping me which, in turn, helps the team. It's just a personal preference. If anybody saw me, they'd know what I've been putting myself through."

Shockey starts his program at 10:30 a.m.

"I'm not [bleeping] partying; I'm not just sitting around in the bleeping sun," he claimed.

According to New York Post columnist Steve Serby, Shockey runs sprints four times each week inside a sandpit that is 60 yards long. He sprints back and forth eight times, with a 30-second rest in between.

"You almost want to die," Shockey said. "Your heart feels like it's going to beat out of your chest."

When that part of the workout ends, he jogs back 200 yards to the weight room, where he goes through 14 or 15 different exercises.

"I'm about puking at that point," Shockey explained. ...

In the next day or so, Giants coaches and players will be able to see for themselves the results of these sessions. They won't have to just take his word for the kind of shape he's in -- they'll see it first hand.

According to Serby, Shockey will arrive in New York at a 254 chiseled pounds, with eight percent body fat, thanks to a workout regimen and a strict diet high on protein.

"I'm taking care of business," Shockey explained.

"I'm not trying to be an average tight end in this league," he added. "I'm not going to be average in any thing I do in life."

Shockey also told Serby his pride was wounded in 2004. He had no preseason due to a series of injuries -- a broken foot and tweaked hamstring -- and therefore lacked his usual intensity.

"I dropped too many balls," Shockey says. "I got stopped on the 1-yard line three times. I never got stopped on the 1-yard line!

"I'm going to try to get the energy back in the stadium. Play fear less like I did my first year. I'm gonna get the dog back in me. ... Let me correct myself. ... The dog is back!"

Most importantly, Shockey says he wants to avoid a repeat of last season's sub-par 61-catch, 666-yard, 6-TD effort.

"I didn't have that sixth gear last year," Shockey maintains. "I didn't feel the power. I didn't have that dog in me. I didn't have the look in my eye that I wanted it worse than anybody else did.

"I wake up every morning looking in the mirror," Shockey says, "knowing I could have helped the team a hell of a lot more than I did last year.

"The disappointment," he says, "I never want to feel that way again."

He did, however, experience a different form of disappointment two weeks ago, when Manning phoned to ask him join the program so that the two could work out together and develop an enhanced sense for each other.

When news of Manning's call went public, Shockey was not pleased, but the players have since spoken and smoothed things over.

"I understand his point; he wants to win as bad as I do," Shockey said.

"I want to have a good relationship with Eli; he has, and always will be, my friend, and we're gonna win a lot of games together. The last thing I want to do is offend him or the Giants."

But Coughlin, who as Pasquarelli noted "has been about as tolerant concerning Shockey's absence as he has been with just about anything in his NFL coaching career," suggested strongly over the weekend that it might be time for the tight end to report for the workouts.

Speaking publicly for the first time about Shockey's absence, Coughlin said he had no concerns about the tight end's physical condition, but would prefer to have him at Giants Stadium.

"Yeah, I have spoken to him. I speak to him on a weekly basis," Coughlin said on Sunday. "He's working in Miami and I don't have any question that he's working out. That's not the only reason to be here, though. Jeremy knows exactly what I feel about the program and he and I have discussed it at great length. I feel very much that he'll be here at some point in time. And hopefully sooner."

As Newark Star-Ledger beat man Mike Garafolo reported Monday, Shockey is believed to be the only starter who has missed the entire voluntary program that began on March 21. Every other starter -- and almost every backup -- has appeared at least once during each Thursday's session with reporters. The workouts continue through the veteran mini-camp from June 1-3 and continue until the end of the month.

When Coughlin was asked if Shockey was, indeed, the only member of the roster missing, he said "there were others. Not many, but there were."

It remains to be seen how long Shockey participates in the formal program, where attendance is voluntary but where just about everyone else shows up. But Rosenhaus said his client feels it is time to start conforming and at the same time end the widespread confusion about his absence.

Staying away from the Giants program is not, Rosenhaus told Pasquarelli, a ploy aimed at landing a new contract.

"Have we discussed his contract situation with the Giants?' said Rosenhaus. "Of course, we have. But there have been no negotiations. Nothing is imminent. Jeremy just feels like working down here (in Miami) is the best thing for him.

"And, believe me, if you ever saw the way these guys work and push each other, you'd never doubt his resolve. It's not as if he's in hiding.

"It isn't like he's out of contact with the Giants people."

On that point Coughlin has no argument. The coach added, in fact, that team officials have been able to monitor the back spasms that hindered Shockey in the final five weeks of the season.

"We have constant medical updates," he said. "He was just at the doctor two weeks ago and everything was positive. The reports were very good."

So is Shockey's sudden willingness to put the team's best interest ahead of what he perceives to be his own. Let's hope it holds up.