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Coughlin believes Gronkowski will play

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Posted Feb. 01, 2012 @ 4:14 p.m. ET
By Keith Schleiden

INDIANAPOLIS — A day after enduring the Media Day crush of questions on Tuesday, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin stepped back to the podium on Wednesday morning to take on another series of inquiries from reporters. But he couldn't understand why he was doing so.

"I don't know how any of you could have a question after yesterday. Unbelievable," joked Coughlin. "I was OK until that guy came over in the — I don't know, what was that? — Adventureman suit he had on. And the other guy who had the number and leather helmet. Actually, that guy looked pretty good in that helmet. That was a little shaky."

Coughlin was referring to a pair of media members who dressed in costume while participating in the annual pre-Super Bowl Q&A with players and coaches that is often dominated by entertainment outlets rather than sports reporters.

Clearly, Coughlin has tired of answering the same questions over and over. Before opening the room up to questions, he jokingly warned: "There cannot be a redundant question today."

The warning was not heeded, however. Question No. 3 of the session was about Chase Blackburn, the Giants' linebacker whose well-documented story about joining the team in November after having prepared to become a substitute teacher because it appeared as if his playing days had come to an end.

"That's question No. 972 about Chase," quipped Coughlin, before launching into a lengthy explanation of how quickly Blackburn was able to contribute to the Giants' cause and what type of player he is.

"Chase was prepared to come back prior to when we brought him back," said Coughlin. "He had worked out for us and he was anxious about it. To be honest with you, from the second he arrived, it was like he never left. He absorbed where we were real fast, jumped right back into special teams, jumped into the linebacker role and progressed into the linebacker role. He's playing a lot now on defense, as well as special teams. He's probably one of two or three of our players who has the most positive supportive role on the sideline for offense and special teams. He's really jumped right in and done more than you could ask of anybody to help in as many ways as he can. He'll volunteer to do anything; he's just that kind of guy."

A more newsworthy note that Coughlin offered was that RB Ahmad Bradshaw would not practice with the team on Wednesday. However, the coach pointed out that it is routine for Bradshaw to skip Wednesday practices in an effort to help preserve him. (Update: Bradshaw did practice on Wednesday.)

Coughlin was asked how his staff was preparing for the Patriots' offense with the prospect of TE Rob Gronkowski possibly missing the game with an ankle injury.

"Not to belittle the question, I really do think he'll play," said Coughlin. "It sounds like he's making great progress. You could have somewhat of a difference in percentages, if you will, for the style of the type of personnel used. I don't see a lot of change in how they approach it. They always run the ball and they will always do that in whatever fashion they choose, whether it be by series or whether all of a sudden, at the end, you realize that they've rushed the ball X-amount of times for X-amount of yards. I just think that we'll prepare as if he'll play and we'll do our due diligence with any of these other personnel combinations that come up.

"They've been very successful in that personnel set you're referring to, whether it be two receivers, a runner, and two tight ends, or two tight ends and three receivers. They've been extremely successful with that, and it's been tied into their no-huddle offense and the speed with which they can do things. We are preparing, naturally, for different personnel sets, but also including the fact that we think he'll play."

Coughlin closed his Wednesday press conference by addressing something that Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed earlier in the day — the Giants' deep pool of talented edge rushers. Coughlin corrected a questioner who referred to having such depth as a "luxury."

"It's not a luxury. It's a style and a way in which we prefer to play," said Coughlin. "It's a position that we place an awful lot of stock in. ... One of the questions that had been asked this morning was, to get pressure, how do you go about doing that? If you can do it with four rather than the rest, then you can cover — you've got more people involved in coverage, obviously. The great, skilled defensive linemen that come along, rare or not rare, if they have the other attributes that you're looking for, they're going to give you a number of weapons. Mentioning athleticism, speed and that type of thing, they provide versatility for you, as well."

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