Handley makes Giants debut

August 05, 1991|By Barry Meisel | Barry Meisel,New York Daily News

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills line up tonight at Giants Stadium, you'll undoubtedly recall Super Bowl XXV, the Giants' 20-19 exhilarating triumph dubbed "A Game for the Ages."

But this is not so much a Super Bowl rematch as it is Ray Handley's debut as an NFL head coach and the first round of the Phil Simms-Jeff Hostetler QB Competition.

The first of the Giants' four 1991 pre-season games is a chance for the quarterbacks to start battling for the starting job. It's an opportunity for the coaches to try unscrambling the jumble at tight end. It's a stage for the rookies to try landing spots and for some vets to get into game shape.

Nothing more.

"I'm not really worried about credibility in these preseason games because I've explained to the players a little bit of what I'm trying to achieve," Handley said. "I'm sure they're waiting to see how I am under fire. I think they'll find out something about me as the game progresses."

Simms will start, but he and Hostetler both will play against the Bills' No. 1 defense. In the interest of fairness in this derby, Handley will let each guy direct a set number of plays, contingent upon the effectiveness of a drive. Both will play more than once and neither will miss All-Pro defensive end Bruce Smith, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 22 and will be out at least two or three more weeks.

Bills quarterback Jim Kelly practiced last week after pulling his right hamstring and he'll probably start. But the Bills' starting offensive and defensive units will probably play only two or three series, as will the Giants'.

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