Kerry Collins To Start for Giants

Kent Graham is going to miss the New York Giants' game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday because of a concussion, and Kerry Collins will start at quarterback.

Graham, who started the first four games, was injured in last Sunday's 16-15 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

He threw three interceptions against Philadelphia, one returned for a touchdown, and his status as the starter was in question. Giants coach Jim Fassel said he would evaluate Graham's performance and would announce his starter Wednesday. The injury made the decision for him.

Graham was examined Monday by doctors. Fassel said he would not have been able to practice at that time if the team worked out.

Collins, a free agent who signed for nearly $17 million in the offseason despite a troubled past, was 6-of-12 for 86 yards and led the Giants on the game-winning field goal drive after replacing Graham in the third quarter Sunday. However, the drive included a fumble by Collins.

"Everybody wants to cut the quarterback's head off," Fassel said. "Sometimes it's him and sometimes it isn't. In this game, it was him. I was very disappointed. You have to evaluate and say can we step up and change."

The Giants offense has struggled since the start of the season, although Graham has not been solely to blame.

Before the injury, Graham threw three horrible interceptions on plays he forced passes into coverage.

Fassel said it was almost as if Graham (15-of-29 for 171 yards) predetermined where he was going to throw the ball and didn't bother making any reads on the plays. Two Eagles literally battled for the ball on the third pick.

"After that last one, he forced it right into the teeth of the defense, I said I have to take him out of the ballgame," Fassel said.

Since becoming the Giants coach, Fassel has changed quarterbacks in each of his first two seasons. Danny Kanell took over for an injured Dave Brown (pectoral) in 1997 and led the Giants to the NFC East title, posting a 7-2-1 record as a starter.

New York won five of six games at the end of last season after Graham replaced Kanell as the starter.

"There is no question in my mind that I am aware when I made the quarterback switch the team has taken off," Fassel said.

"You weigh all those factors."

Collins, the fifth overall pick in the 1995 draft, led New York on an 11-play, 67-yard march that resulted in Brad Daluiso's game-winning 23-yard field goal with 7:43 to play.

The question about Collins is: Is he ready?

This is his first year in Fassel's offense and he hasn't gotten many reps since training camp ended. He also struggled mightily last season in Carolina and New Orleans.

Fassel isn't sure whether Collins is ready, although he said he has made a lot of progress.

"If I am going to make any moves I want to make sure that guy is ready to play and to improve the play," Fassel said. "I don't want to go backwards. I want immediate better play from the position."

"It's not an easy situation," Collins said. "I think we both realize things like yesterday happen and it doesn't necessarily mean that permanent change is going to come."