Giants talking about Burress’ future with the team

By Tom Canavan

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The New York Giants might make a decision on Plaxico Burress’ immediate football future before the justice system or the NFL hands down rulings.

In the wake of an accidental shooting that led to weapons possession charges against the Super Bowl hero Monday, the Giants management discussed its options.

The team recognizes there’s a chance that the star receiver, who caught the winning pass in the Super Bowl, might be able to report for the team’s next practice Wednesday.

“We are dealing with that,” coach Tom Coughlin said in a conference call. “Today we have had some discussions. Those discussions will be ongoing.”

The Giants have several choices for dealing with Burress, who on Monday was taken to court in handcuffs and released after posting $100,000 bail on the weapons possession charges.

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    They suspended him for a game and fined him earlier this season for missing a team meeting in September, so they could do that again – or possibly give him a longer suspension.

    He also can be put on the non-football injury list, with the team having the option whether to pay him.

    There are more extreme actions, such as releasing Burress. However, that could put a strain on the team’s salary cap next season. Burress signed a $35 million contract days before the start of the season and $11 million is believed to be guaranteed.

    The team could let Burress return to practice but not allow him to play in Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles. They also could let him play, but that seems unlikely if his history is taken into account.

    Burress has been fined dozens of times by the Giants for violating team rules since joining them in 2005.

    His suspension earlier this season seemingly is another strike against him.

    Coughlin refused to say what the team was thinking.

    “As I said, we are in the stages of trying to gather information and make decisions as to where we go from here,” he said. “And at this point in time, I’m not prepared to say anything.”

    Burress did not comment at his court hearing in New York on Monday.

    Drew Rosenhaus, Burress’ agent, did not return messages left by The Associated Press at his Florida office on Monday.

    Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce also is being investigated for his role in the shooting at the Latin Quarter nightclub Friday night. Coughlin talked to Pierce on Saturday and allowed him to play in New York’s 23-7 win over Washington on Sunday.

    It’s believed Pierce took Burress to the car and then left with him, according to police. Burress was treated at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and released later Saturday.

    Coughlin was asked if he was concerned the league and authorities might consider actions against Pierce.

    “Again, I’m not in the position to say anything about that,” Coughlin said. “I don’t know anything, unless you know something. I’m not aware of anything.”

    Coughlin also was asked about reports running back Ahmad Bradshaw was at the club on Friday. The second-year pro spent almost a month in a Virginia jail in June and July for an old probation violation.

    “I am disappointed, certainly,” Coughlin said.

    The Giants also took issue with comments from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who criticized the team for not informing police of the shooting.

    “We are working closely with the police and NFL Security,” the team said in a statement Monday. “In the early hours of Saturday morning, as we started to get a sense of what we were dealing with, we did, in fact, notify NFL Security, which then contacted the police.”

    All the publicity seemingly has not affected the Giants (11-1), who are on the verge of clinching both a playoff berth and a divisional title. With four games left in the regular season, they hold a two-game lead in the race for the NFC’s top seed.

    “I think our team is a very resilient bunch,” said receiver Amani Toomer, who is the longest-serving Giant with 12 years in the NFL. “We have a lot of competitive guys that really want to win and I think it is showing every Sunday when it doesn’t matter what happens when we get on the field.”

    Linebacker Danny Clark added players are hoping for the best for Burress.

    “Whatever happens with Plax, we are with him,” Clark said. “Regardless, he is still our teammate, we love him, and our support is with him. But at the end of the day we are focused on winning our next football game and that is against Philadelphia.”