Kerry Collins' first steps on the road to quarterback redemption have been taken with a football tucked squarely in his gut.
Giants coach Jim Fassel is attempting to rid his new quarterback of the hitch in his throwing motion that has plagued him since he first entered the NFL as Carolina's first-round choice in 1995. Even as Collins was building his first-round status with a stellar senior year at Penn State, scouts warned that his delivery was flawed because of the hitch that kept him from getting the ball off quickly.
"He would always carry the ball up by his ear as he dropped back," said Fassel. "And he'd have to drop it way down, then bring it up again when he was ready to throw."
Fassel likened the problem to a hitter who carries his bat too high, then has to drop down to cock it into hitting position.
"Same idea," Fassel said. "So what I've had him doing is running 40-yard dashes holding the football down around his numbers. The idea is to get him used to carrying the ball down there instead of up by his ear."
Collins has been kept off-limits to the media since his initial news conference, so his thoughts on the matter remain private.
"He says he feels so much more comfortable right now," Fassel said. "This is the first step we're taking with him. We have to get him used to taking the ball in that position as he drops back from center. And then we'll start working with his footwork away from center."
Fassel said since there is no need to rush Collins into action, he can take his time correcting what the coach sees as faulty mechanics.
Collins is working with Fassel and new quarterbacks coach Sean Payton on carrying the ball lower.
"Next, he will start throwing one-on-one to the receivers," Fassel said. "And when he starts that, he'll almost certainly fall back into his bad habits. And we'll have to work with him on his dropback again. Then he'll start throwing in seven-on-seven, he'll revert back, and we'll have to work to get him out of it.
"Each time he takes another step forward in the progression to playing in a game, he'll naturally revert to some bad habits. First time he puts the pads on in training camp, first time we scrimmage, then his first exhibition game. So we'll have to constantly work with him until he feels comfortable dropping back with the ball lower in game situations."