Giants second-year quarterback Danny Kanell welcomed the exhaustive preparations for his first NFL start, which came on Sunday against the Cardinals in Tempe, Ariz. The extra filmwork and studying were a respite from the constant hounding by reporters and the nonstop phone calls to his Teaneck, N.J., town house from suddenly interested friends. The work paid off, as Kanell passed for 198 yards and one touchdown while leading New York to a 27-13 win. Here he discusses his hectic week.
"Usually on Mondays I can quietly go to the stadium, do my film work, practice and go home. This time I was swamped by the media. Later at the team meeting Coach [Jim] Fassel announced that we had a new starting quarterback and that everyone was going to have to raise his level of play. When we started watching films of the previous day's win over the Cowboys, I learned a lot more than usual because I had played in that game. Fassel and Rod Dowhower, our quarterbacks coach, pointed out things that I needed to improve. That's when I started to feel a sense of urgency, that this was my week and I had to make the most of it.
"I usually don't start studying films of an opponent until Wednesday, but I spent three hours on Tuesday watching a couple of Arizona games on the big-screen TV in my living room. Later Coach Dowhower faxed me the game plan. It was 18 pages long, and he had drawn up every possible play. There are four or five new plays every week, but it's not that difficult because they're basically the same plays, just run out of different formations.
"On Wednesday [injured starter] Dave Brown spent a lot of time with me. He pointed out certain things on plays he had run and told me which receiver would be open. I usually get 15 to 20 percent of the snaps in practice but this time I got them all. I was planning to watch the baseball playoffs on TV that night, but I was so tired I just got in bed and went to sleep.
"I felt pretty confident by the time I got on the plane on Saturday. Coach Fassel told me, 'I have total confidence in you, and I'm excited about your first start.' Because of the three-hour time difference, I woke up at six on Sunday and was really anxious. The game wasn't until one, but I just wanted to get on the field.
"We were concerned about their pass rush, so Coach Fassel simplified our protection. It turned out that their defense was trying to force me to throw into zone coverages, but early on I went underneath the coverage to our running backs. Dave [ Brown] was in Coach Fassel's ear the whole time, telling him what was open. He was like an extra coach, and he called one of our biggest plays, a 47-yard in-and-go to Chris Calloway in the third quarter that led to our go-ahead touchdown.
"On the plane home, I felt such a sense of relief. I had my first start under my belt. Now I could relax."