--By day, Mitch Petrus is an offensive lineman for the New York Giants, a two-year veteran who last year opened quite a few eyes when with no notice, he stepped in against Green Bay to be the starting left guard, performing well enough to earn a uniform for the rest of the season.
By night, Petrus, along with some friends, has begun opening a few ears. The 24 year old and some friends from his home state of Arkansas are part of a band called Vikings of the North Atlantic - VONA for short.
Recently, VONA took the next step toward proving they are more than just a flash in the pan by releasing a selection of their songs on iTunes, the popular online music service.
Petrus, the band bassist who made the announcement via his official Twitter account, offered his followers a free autographed photo to anyone who downloaded a song from the band's catalog.
--Normally a draft pick that hasn't made a significant contribution doesn't face a make-or-break year until he enters the final year of his contract.
For defensive tackle Marvin Austin, however, he's only one year into his rookie contract and he's already at a crossroad.
That's because Austin, the Giants' second round pick last season, not only missed his rookie year due to a torn pectoral muscle suffered in the preseason, he also missed his final year of college football at North Carolina due to a NCAA violation that resulted in a suspension.
"This offseason is going to be big for him to get going again and get acclimated to playing football, if nothing else, and playing at this level, which is going to be shocking to him because he hasn't played in such a long time," said general manager Jerry Reese.
"To go out in there and tussle with those big guys, it's going to be tougher than you think it is, but he's a talented kid. We hope he can get in there with Linval Joseph and Chris Canty and give us a good rotation inside."
--General manager Jerry Reese said the team is looking for receiver Ramses Barden, who is entering his fourth season, to finally turn the corner and justify the club's faith in him.
Barden, who was a third round pick in 2009, has spent the last two seasons missing chunks of time due to an ankle injury. The Giants are hoping that Barden, who doesn't play special teams, can be a legitimate contender for the third wide receiver spot that was vacated when Mario Manningham signed with the 49ers.
"Ramses has that length that you like. We hope he can stay healthy and prove to us he was worth -- I think we picked him with a third-round pick," Reese said.
--General Manager Jerry Reese said that cornerback Terrell Thomas, whom the team recently re-signed, is "very much ahead of schedule" on his rehab from knee surgery. "Our doctors feel good about his progress so far," he said.
Reese said that the return of Thomas to his pre-injury self would be just what the doctor ordered for the Giants' defense. "He's a good football player; he's going to make us better. We feel like you've got to have three corners because you play these spread offenses in the National Football League."
--The Giants were awarded a fourth-round compensatory pick by the NFL as part of the 32 extra picks given by the league to teams whose 2011 free-agent losses were greater than their gains. The round and number of picks is determined by the NFL Management council, which uses a top-secret formula.
In the Giants' case, they lost three starters from their 2010 squad: tight end Kevin Boss (Raiders), receiver Steve Smith (Eagles), and defensive tackle Barry Cofield (Redskins). New York signed two new starters, center David Baas (49ers) and punter Steve Weatherford (Jets).
--The Giants, who as defending Super Bowl champions will get to open the 2012 NFL season on Sept. 5 at home, will host the Dallas Cowboys in prime time in what will be a rematch of last year's regular-season finale.
That game, a Giants victory, clinched the NFC East title for the Giants and sent them into the playoffs all the way through to the Super Bowl.
The game will be the Giants' first opener against Dallas since 2007 and their first home opener against the Cowboys since 1995.
The Giants are 49-33-5 in season openers and 17-11 in season-opening home games. In their most recent Kickoff game, they defeated Washington, 16-7, on Sept. 4, 2008.
--Giants COO John Mara told the New York Post that a contract extension for head coach Tom Coughlin should be finalized within the next 4-6 weeks. Coughlin, who is a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach, is entering the final year of his current contract.
Despite his age - he'll be 66 on August 31 - Coughlin has expressed a desire to continue coaching for several more years. He's expected to receive a multi-year extension from the Giants.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"Whether we're on the front page every day or not, it's not that important to me. New Yorkers know who won the Super Bowl." - Head coach Tom Coughlin when asked about playing second fiddle to the Jets in the battle of the headlines this offseason.
Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.