EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ The players and coaches who made the trip east with Dan Reeves don't see much change in the man who has seemingly revived the New York Giants.

He might be a little happier with the Giants (3-0) off to their best start since the 1990 Super Bowl season, but that could also be attributed to the absence contract question which dominated his final year in Denver.

Still, this is the same Reeves. Pleasant on the outside, unless you cross him. Intense on inside. He'll do what he has to do to win, and he's done it with the Giants.

When linebacker Pepper Johnson challenged his authority in training camp, he got his walking papers.

When nose tackle Erik Howard complained about playing time in the preseason, he lost his starting job.

''I don't think Dan has ever gone out and tried to win a popularity contest,'' former Broncos wide receiver Mark Jackson said Monday. ''That's possibily why he has won so many games in his career.''

Reeves is also winning because he has found a way to appeal to the Giants players who lost a lot of confidence in two non-playoff years under Ray Handley.

Reeves has let the players put up or shut up since training camp started.

When they ran sprints after practice, there was always somewhat of a wager. If everyone ran the sprints in a set time, they ran one fewer. If any group failed to meet the time, everyone ran one extra.

With the start of the season, there was the bye-week bet for this week.

Reeves told the team during the bye week it would work Monday and Tuesday and have off Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were up to the team.

For every game the Giants won, the team would have another day off.

The bottom line is after wins over Chicago, Tampa Bay and the Rams, the Giants have off five days this week.

''We felt it would be good to challenge them,'' Reeves said in reviewing the Giants' 20-10 win over the Rams. ''We won more than I expected. We'll certainly give them what they earned and we'll get the job done.''

There's a provision to that. The players had better stay in shape or else there won't be another bet for the second bye week.

''Dan has been in the game a whole lot and he knows what he can play with and what can do and can't do,'' Giants guard William Roberts said. ''This is a tribute to him. He is getting the results he wanted when he came here.''

Linebacker Michael Brooks, who also played for Reeves in Denver, said there was some tension when Reeves took over the Giants and starting cracking down on the little things, like having jerseys tucked in and chinstraps buckled and helmets not being put on the ground.

''It's hard for guys to know you off the bat,'' Brooks said. ''I think guys being around him, know he is fair and they know what is expected of them. Guys are professionals and they know what he means and what he wants to accomplish. Guys have stood up and responded to that.''

So far it's made for a happy family. Whether it remains that way is another question. After the bye week, things get tough.

The Giants face Buffalo, Washington twice, Philadelphia twice, the Jets and Dallas in their next seven games.

''I like where we are,'' Reeves said. ''It's way too early to say this is a playoff team. This is a playoff contending team because of what we have accomplished so far.''

Lawrence Taylor, who sustained a moderate strain of his left hamstring, should be ready to play in Buffalo, team spokesman Pat Hanlon said.

Remarkably, Giants safety Greg Jackson said he wasn't even aware Taylor was not playing until the minute of the game when he saw him sitting on the bench.