Collins and Shockey become dynamic duo

There is tangible evidence that the connection between Giants quarterback Kerry Collins and tight end Jeremy Shockey is becoming a strong one. Shockey leads all NFL tight ends and all rookies with 54 receptions.

And there's an important intangible, too.

"It has taken a little bit of time, but I am starting to get confidence in him," Collins said yesterday. "I am seeing the progress he is making within the offense. He is learning the offense. He is learning about the game at this level. I am getting confidence in that, like the confidence I have with Amani (Toomer), Tiki (Barber) and I had with Ike (Hilliard). He is starting to come around that way."

The Giants host the Cowboys on Sunday. Shockey had just one reception for 11 yards on Oct. 6 in Dallas before leaving the game with turf toe. He has averaged almost seven catches a game the past four weeks. Collins and coach Jim Fassel said they would not be surprised if Shockey is named to the Pro Bowl next week.

"I really had high (preseason) expectations, probably unrealistically high for a rookie, and he's met them," Fassel said. "There are certainly things he has to work on, blocking and he does have some drops. He could improve on that and have even more catches."

Shockey has more than tripled the Giants' production at his position. Three tight ends combined for 17 catches last season.

"It's been a long time since we've had that around here," Fassel said. "Most of the time, those guys aren't even on the radar screen."
Dec. 13,02