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Giants sign veteran OT Whitfield

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (May 4, 2005) -- The New York Giants signed 13-year veteran Bob Whitfield, giving the team a veteran offensive tackle to back up Luke Petitgout on the left side.

"You ever heard the phrase, 'He's still got it?' " Whitfield said in a statement. "I still got it." The Giants did not announce terms of the contract.

After signing with Jacksonville on Oct. 5, Whitfield appeared in 10 games with the Jaguars as a backup left tackle and on special teams. The 33-year-old spent his first 12 seasons with Atlanta, starting 167 of 188 games. He made the Pro Bowl in 1988.

"He's a guy who has played left tackle in this league for a long time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's very smart, very athletic. He's a guy that will give us absolute veteran experience in a backup role. I think he'll be a big help to our offensive linemen because of his vast experience."

Coughlin said that Whitfield is big (6-foot-5 and 310 pounds), strong and can still handle speed rushers on the defensive line.

"He thinks the game, he talks the game, he likes that aspect of the strategy," Coughlin said. "He'll be an excellent addition to our football team."

While he understands his role, Whitfield wants to play.

"I welcome the competition," Whitfield said. "I'm an old-school guy. Luke is the starter. I can't just come in and say I'm replacing the starter. I'm just coming in to support. And then if there's an opportunity to replace the starter, you have to earn that job. It's definitely not given to you."

Coming out of Stanford, Whitfield was the eighth overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft. He moved into the starting lineup the following season and did not miss a game for eight consecutive years, helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl in 1998.

In 2003, Whitfield started the first eight games of the season before breaking his right leg against Philadelphia on Nov. 2. He was in Atlanta's training camp last year, but was released Sept. 5.

"I honestly thought I'd never leave Atlanta," Whitfield said. "But I saw Jessie Tuggle and Jamal Anderson leave, and I knew it was going to happen to me. It's the life cycle in the NFL."

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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