Collins durable

With three rookie offensive linemen protecting him, Giants quarterback Kerry Collins didn't exactly have plenty of time to throw the ball Monday night. With left tackle Luke Petitgout scheduled to return Sunday, Collins figures to have more time in the pocket.

But either way, the quarterback said yesterday, he's not overly concerned.

"It's not like I haven't gotten hit in the past," said Collins, who was sacked twice by the Cowboys. "As long as I am okay today, I don't worry about it. I am just going to keep doing what I'm doing, and I think they are going to get better. I really think they are going to get better."

One of the league's most durable QBs, Collins has started 56 consecutive games. As the Giants (1-1) continued to prepare for Sunday's game at Washington (2-0), coach Jim Fassel said Collins "brings a new level of toughness" to his position.

The Redskins have four sacks and feature a few big-hitters, particularly LB LaVar Arrington. Collins didn't seem worried about anything but winning.

"I think we are all disgusted with the way (the 35-32 overtime loss to Dallas) happened," he said. "I think we are all very disappointed with the fact that we lost that game, but it happens, and we know that there is no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We are not going to let it get us down. We are going to use it for motivation."

Collins said Fassel thanked him for coming to his defense this week regarding some of Monday night's decision-making.

"He's stuck up for me a lot and I felt the need to stick up for him this week," Collins said. "If we can't kick the ball off with 11 seconds left, with a three-point lead and win the game, we don't deserve to win, that is just the bottom line. Jim made all the right calls."

Petitgout's first task in his return from a back injury will be to keep Redskins DE Bruce Smith away from Collins. A 19-year veteran, Smith is 2 1/2 sacks from tying the all-time sack record of 1998, held by Reggie White. In his career, he has sacked Collins four times.

"You don't prepare any differently (for Smith) but you certainly know you're facing greater competition than you might be on another Sunday," Petitgout said. "He's seen everything and done everything. He's well-respected as a player around the league. It'll be a tough challenge. Hopefully, he won't get 2 1/2 sacks."

TE Jeremy Shockey had 16 catches for 200 yards in two victories over the Redskins last season. Arrington apparently was not impressed. He initially refused to answer questions about Shockey from the Washington media this week, before saying, "Let's see what Jeremy Shockey does on Sunday."

K Matt Bryant made a 47-yard FG and received congratulations from teammates. "Sunday can't come soon enough," said Bryant, who will try to keep all of his kickoffs in bounds. ... DT Keith Hamilton (hamstring) was in uniform but did not practice. He will be a game-time decision. ... The Giants first tried to practice on the grass fields, then headed into the stadium and finally wound up in the bubble because of high winds.
Sept 19,03