Strahan Ends Holdout Prepares To Practice

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Seven-time Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan reported to the New York Giants on Monday, six days before the season opener.

Ending a holdout that may cost him more than $500,000 in fines, Strahan arrived unobserved at Giants Stadium around 4 p.m., handled some paperwork and met with general manager Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin. He also took a physical and left after 45 minutes, not making himself available for comment.

The 35-year-old Strahan, who held out for more than five weeks and missed all four preseason games while deciding whether to play a 15th season or retire, will practice on Tuesday.

"It's all behind us," Reese said, sitting in his car beneath Giants Stadium. "We're moving forward and getting ready for Dallas."

The Giants have been granted a two-game exemption for Strahan, so he will not count on the 53-man roster. He can be activated any time during that period. The NFL's active sacks leader would be paid his $4 million salary during that period.

"Obviously, we are glad that Michael is back, that he wants to be back and that he wants to continue his playing career," Reese said. "As I have stated several times since the beginning of training camp, Michael Strahan is a Hall of Fame player and we are a stronger team with him."

The Giants fined Strahan $14,288 for each day of his holdout. The fine total was over $500,000 on Friday when his agent announced that he would be rejoining the team.

Tony Agnone also said the team and Strahan reached an agreement to reduce the fine. He would not disclose how much.

Teammates think Strahan will be ready for the opener.

"Considering he's put in seven or eight years more than anyone here, and he's been to more training camps than anyone here, he's fine," veteran receiver Amani Toomer said.

Fellow defensive end Osi Umenyiora said Strahan just has to get used to wearing a helmet and shoulder pads again. He isn't worried about Strahan playing in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's new system, noting he got a taste of it in minicamp.

Strahan's future has been the biggest question for the Giants since the team opened training camp in late July. Less than a day before players were to report, Agnone told the club his client would be holding out while he decided whether to play.

The NFL's single-season sacks record holder (22 1/2 ) missed all of training camp and all four preseason games. Agnone said Friday that Strahan may play more than this season. He is under contract for this year and next.

Television crews and reporters waited at the players' entrance for his arrival on Monday, only to be chased by team officials and security guards.

Inside the stadium, teammates lifted weights and attended a meeting on player benefits before leaving around noon.

Most said they weren't surprised Strahan missed the meeting, although Umenyiora was amused by all the questions about No. 92.

"He's some kind of rock star?" Umenyiora said. "This is crazy."

If Strahan practices Tuesday, he will have four workouts to get ready for the Cowboys.

Cornerback R.W. McQuarters wants Strahan in the lineup on Sunday.

"Any time Stray is out there you have to double-team him," McQuarters said. "Let's not kid ourselves. If we can get a guy out there who can take up two, hey, that works for us.

"You want to talk about his condition?" McQuarters added. "You play football for 15 years, you don't lose your conditioning and the common sense of the game. Stray will get to the quarterback and contain the run."

Third-year pro Justin Tuck filled in for Strahan in the preseason and played very well.

Strahan's holdout didn't seem to bother teammates, who sweated through two-a-day practices at the University at Albany.

"I think he'll be better this season because he is not as burnt or used up," said receiver Plaxico Burress, who missed almost as much time as Strahan with nagging injuries. "He may not be in football shape, but he has played long enough. He knows what to do to get ready."

Quarterback Eli Manning said the holdout was not a distraction for a team that dealt with Tiki Barber's retirement almost all of last season.

"We haven't talked about it," Manning said. "We're not complaining about it. It's one of those deals. He made a decision and you live with it, and that's it."


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