ASHBURN, Va. -- Dan Reeves' list of the toughest players he's been around is a short one.
"I thought Walt Garrison was as tough a football player as I'd ever been around, and Dave Meggett falls into that same category. He's as tough pound for pound as any player I've ever been around. He's a guy you can count on every time we ask him to do something," the New York Giants coach said yesterday.
What the Giants will count on Meggett doing Sunday is to start at running back in place of Rodney Hampton against the Washington Redskins.
With Hampton out with a bruised kidney and rookie Keith Elias doubtful with a sprained ankle, Meggett will share the running back duties with Kenyon Rasheed, a second-year player who carried the ball four times in the first two games, and rookie Gary Downs, who wasn't active for the first two games.
When Hampton, who carried 17 times for 39 yards in the Arizona game, came out, Meggett stepped in and gained 44 yards in 15 carries as the Giants posted a 20-17 victory.
The former Towson State running back played even though he had bruised ribs, but Reeves wasn't surprised he did that.
"He can play when a lot of guys wouldn't have. Dave sucked it up last week and was in a lot of pain and continued to play. Walt Garrison was the same way," he said.
The one thing Reeves can't expect Meggett, a 5-foot-7, 195-pounder, to be is a heavy-duty back like Hampton, who's 5-11 and 230.
"Our philosophy doesn't change," Reeves said. "What we'll try to do is utilize the skills that Dave Meggett brings. He runs different types of plays better [than Hampton].
"We're not going to wear him out for this game. He's an awful big part of our entire football team on punt returns and kickoff returns, but he's not a guy who can carry a ball like Rodney Hampton."
Meggett said he figured that once Lewis Tillman, who signed with the Chicago Bears, left, he would be called on.
"I knew that I would, somewhere down the line, have to carry the ball a lot of times, and it's not going to bother me," Meggett said. "I'm not going to concern myself with the number of carries."
Meggett had not had more than eight carries in a regular-season game until he got 15 against the Cardinals last Sunday, although he carried 10 times in the 1990 NFC title game and nine in Super Bowl XXV.
As expected, Deion Sanders signed a $1.1 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers -- it includes $750,000 in incentives -- and said, "They've won four Super Bowls. I'm here to make it five."
Sanders also said he intended to continue playing baseball when the current strike is settled, but said the baseball players should continue to fight the salary cap concept.
"The problem you see now with the cap in football, it has really eliminated some of the great players from the game. I don't feel baseball players want to go that route," he said.
The 49ers also signed former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann to replace Richard Dent, who is expected to be out for more than eight weeks after knee surgery.
A Sharpe deal
Packers wide receiver Sterling Sharpe, who had threatened to sit out the first game, will get $1 more than the highest-paid JTC receiver from 1995 through the year 2000 under the terms of his restructured contract, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported.
Grievance filed against Eagles
Gene Upshaw, president of the NFL Players Association, said that the union had opened a new chapter in the Philadelphia Eagles' pay-cut controversy -- by filing a formal grievance against the team.
The union plans to call members of top Eagles management, including owner Jeffrey Lurie, as witnesses at an arbitration hearing, Upshaw said.