Collins may take a seat in preseason finale

Kerry Collins' preseason might be over. For all the right reasons.

Coach Jim Fassel said yesterday he might not play his starting quarterback in the Giants' preseason finale Thursday at Baltimore. Such a move, Fassel said, would be unprecedented in his career and would not be the result of seeing the Jets lose Chad Pennington to a fractured left wrist on Saturday night.

But Fassel did admit there would be some peace of mind in knowing that if Collins were not on the field, he could not get hurt.

"Injuries happen. I'm not going to coach scared," Fassel said. "But I'm going to be smart about it. I'm going to do what's good for my team. I think Kerry's played well, he's been sharp. In the back of my mind I'm thinking, 'If I give him 12 plays, is that going to make a difference or not?'"

Collins has completed 30 of 52 for 381 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions this preseason. He has been sacked five times. He looked particularly accurate against the Jets, completing 13-of-23 for 198 yards. After the game, wide receiver Ike Hilliard took the blame for four dropped passes, and there were others.

"If he's been rocky and couldn't play in (a previous) game because of injury or something, I'd give him some playing time," Fassel said. "But he's taken all the reps in practice. He's taken all the reps I've wanted him to in the games. He's grooving himself right now.... I've never not started a quarterback in a game. I've never done that. But it's in my mind."

In addition to resting Collins, Fassel also wants to see backup quarterback Jesse Palmer and No. 3 Jason Garrett, who has yet to play this month.

"I'm going to get Garrett extensive playing time this week," Fassel said. "Partly because I've got to see if I'm going to realign the quarterbacks and partly because I want to see Jason play. I just didn't get him in the game."

Palmer has struggled this preseason and threw the game-deciding interception in Saturday's 15-14 loss to the Jets. But Fassel was defensive yesterday, blaming the pick on a receiver; the pass was intended for Daryl Jones.

If Collins were to get hurt, Fassel said the Giants would have little choice but to go with what they've got.

"We'd adjust some things to make the best for Jesse and then he'd have to step up and play," Fassel said. "I've got him and I've got Jason Garrett. Jesse's a little younger guy and prone to a few more mistakes. Then I've got a guy in Jason Garrett who is kind of a field operator. Jesse is young and talented, and we've got to get him to grow."
Aug 25, 2003