Combine notebook: Tight ends wanted

Tom Coughlin sounded the alarm here at the combine last year that the Giants needed a center entering the draft.

Of course, the Giants didn’t end up drafting a center but they did sign David Baas in free agency.

This year, Coughlin says tight end is the priority after the Giants watched Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum tear their ACLs in the Super Bowl.

Both underwent surgery on Tuesday and Coughlin said the rehab process will take at least seven months, which means the head coach will need tight end bodies in camp. At the moment, they have Bear Pascoe, who will be a restricted free agent, and Christian Hopkins, who was on the practice squad, as the two healthy tight ends on the team.

“That’d be nice,” Coughlin said when asked about getting a tight end. “It would be a nice thing. We had a pretty good combination we thought in terms of people who could block, people who could run up the field, that type of thing. Jake Ballard really did an outstanding job in all capacities. Became an excellent receiving tight end, made big play after big play for us and that was a great thing. Unfortunately, Ballard and Beckum both get injured, seriously injured in the Super Bowl. They both had their surgery and they’re on their way to recovery, but as you know that’s a lengthy recovery.”

The Giants draft 32nd overall in the first round.

ROAD TO RECOVERY: Coughlin said cornerback Terrell Thomas and middle linebacker Jon Goff are both part of his plan for next season. The two are unrestricted free agents and also recovering from ACL surgeries last year.

“All you can do is you have a plan,” Coughlin said. “And the plan certainly does include those two guys. How soon or whatever, that remains to be seen. The overall scope of needs, who you’d like to have and so on and so forth, that all becomes part of the plan.”

Coughlin -- who also revealed that Justin Tuck, Chris Canty and Linval Joseph underwent surgeries -- said Thomas and Goff should have enough time to be ready for the season if they re-sign.

PROTECTING THE LINE: Coughlin defended his offensive line when someone asked the head coach about the Giants’ O-line in his press conference.

“Well, I would argue with you about talent,” Coughlin said. “It's a very talented offensive line. Two out of the past four Super Bowls we've just won, and it basically was the same guys, give or take one or two. Eli [Manning has] always been a quick decision-maker, but the combination of our protection schemes, our athletes up front, the quarterback's ability to get the ball out quickly. That has served us very well because our sack numbers over the years have been down. That may be that one game Eli was exceptional at getting rid of the ball, but it comes down to protection as well. We're certainly a good offensive line, but in every circumstance, you have to continue to build and develop and bring along young players."

Jerry Reese admitted recently that he is not sure how the offensive line will look this coming season with left tackle Will Beatty having been cleared to return and Kareem McKenzie set to hit free agency. Extra offensive linemen Tony Ugoh and Stacy Andrews are also free agents.

NASCAR AT NASCAR: Three members of the Giants’ NASCAR package will be at NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Sunday Feb. 26.

Osi Umenyiora, Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka will ride in the Grand Marshal pace car before the 54th running of the Daytona 500.

NASCAR was the name for the Giants’ four defensive end alignment on passing packages.