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Barber More Than Willing To Carry Offense...
In an article published Saturday, Associated Press sports writer Tom Canavan suggested that one game into the season, the New York Giants have taken a new approach with their offense.

Instead of starting by having Kerry Collins stand in the pocket and throw the ball downfield, the offense is relying on short passes and a running game led by Tiki Barber.

The problem for head coach Jim Fassel and the Giants heading into Monday night's game against the Cowboys is the offensive line, particularly on pass protection.

Left tackle Luke Petitgout, who missed the final three quarters of last week's season-opening win over St. Louis because of back spasms, missed out on his last chance this week to practice on Saturday.

While Fassel said Petitgout felt better Friday, playing without practicing is hard. Rookie free agent Jeff Roehl filled in last week.

Right tackle Ian Allen is the other concern. He struggled against Leonard Little on Sunday and Collins took some big hits, losing a fumble that led to a Rams' field goal.

By the second half, the Giants' focus shifted to Barber, who ran for 146 yards on 24 carries.

"We needed to quicken up our throwing pace, so we weren't taking five- and seven-step drops," Barber said. "We were taking three-step drops and getting rid of the ball."

Collins, who threw for a team-record 4,073 yards last season, was limited to 202 yards, hitting 14-of-26 passes.

"So our passing game wasn't what we wanted it to be," Barber said. "It doesn't mean it's not going to be. But the running game had to take the brunt and we did well with it when we had to in the second half."

Over the past three seasons, the Giants have had trouble keeping the running game going. Barber has had nine 100-yard rushing games of the 50 he has played in that span, which includes the postseason.

Collins appreciated the running game last week on a day when the Rams didn't give him much time to find Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey and Ike Hilliard.

Of his 202 yards, 77 came on one pass to Toomer.

"We've been talking a lot about throwing the ball and that sort of thing, but if we're going to be a good offense we are going to have to run the ball," Collins said Friday.

The Cowboys weren't bad against the run in last week's loss to Atlanta. They gave up 98 yards on 30 carries, a 3.3-yard average.

While it isn't as big as most teams, the Dallas defense can go sideline-to-sideline quickly.

"We have to find creative ways to take advantage of that," said Barber, who played most of last week with a dislocated finger. "It's not easy with these guys. It hasn't been their defense over the years that has caused troubles. It's been other aspects for their team."

In a semi-related note. ...

Pro Football Weekly reported on Tuesday that some have surmised that Fassel picked Delvin Joyce (5-7, 181 pounds) to back up Barber (5-10, 200) because the two are more similar physically, but sources close to the team say that Joyce simply outplayed Dorsey Levens, who has struggled to pick up the offense, and Ron Dayne, who could go from inactive status to a starting role at any time because neither Joyce nor Levens could be an every-down back.

And finally. ...

Although he didn't make his way onto the practice field until Saturday, fullback Jim Finn (bruised thigh muscle) is expected to start and play as usual Monday night.