Before we know it, we will blink and NFL training camps will start. The New York Giants have been pretty quiet for the most part this offseason. That is, they have been compared to last.
Here’s a look, position by position, at the current Giants offensive roster before it heads to training camp.
Obviously there’s no worry here. Eli Manning will of course head to position and responsibility of leading the Giants offense. Now that he has two Super Bowl MVP’s, there are no doubts whether or not he can handle it. His back-up is David Carr, whose press conference for his re-signing we are still waiting for (snicker).
This will be Carr’s third season with the Giants as the second-string QB, and has only seen one stint of playing time with the team. It was in 2009 when the Giants blew out the Oakland Raiders and decided to give Manning the rest of the day off. Carr may not see much playing time…again…but if heaven forbid something happens to Manning, I believe the Giants have a solid back-up in Carr. He knows the Giants playbook and studies it every week.
Last season, the Giants had an unstoppable trio of receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham. No matter where opposing defenses forced Manning to throw, there was a reliable receiver ready to catch the ball. That trio is currently broken up. Manningham left New York for San Francisco, and Nicks is recovering from a fractured foot. Nicks is expected to recover in time for the start of the season, but until then, what? There’s still one spot left to be that third guy. That guy that will make the third down catches.
Luckily for the Giants they have some depth. Domenik Hixon is returning from missing his second straight season with a second straight ACL tear. He’ll be used, but should be with caution. Ramses Barden, who was drafted by the Giants in 2009, is looking to redeem himself of three miserable seasons. In three years he has 15 catches and 174 yards. Ouch. If he has game in him, then this is the opportunity to show it. If he still can’t prove his worth, then the Giants need to move on.
Finally, there is the rookie Rueben Randle of LSU. There is a lot of hype around this kid, especially from GM Jerry Reese. Reese claims him to be “NFL ready” and a lot of analysts called this Giants pick a steal. NFL ready or not, he is young and still need to develop. I can see the Giants using him for some of those third down catches, but he may not necessarily be the “third down guy”.
Yes, the Giants made a mistake when they lost Jake Ballard to the New England Patriots. But there’s one thing everyone needs to remember: With or without Ballard, the TEs are limited. Ballard had a bad ACL tear to his right knee and was ruled out for the entire 2012 season after he failed a physical. Travis Beckum also tore his ACL. It’s possible Beckum could be available for the season, but he obviously would be limited.
The Giants have two key players to turn to. Bear Pascoe has the most experience with the Giants of all the TEs on the roster. He was the second man to go to after Kevin Boss in 2010 and Ballard in 2011. Unless another player steps up to the plate as the starting TE, Pascoe will be the guy.
That player that could possibly be Martellus Bennett. The Giants signed Bennett after he played his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. He went from being the number two guy behind Jason Witten to now hopefully getting a starting role with New York. In his career with Dallas, he has 85 receptions for 846 yards and four touchdowns.
Rookie Adrien Robinson can also have a chance to show what he’s capable of, but he has to outshine a ton of TE’s that saw no playing time last season. I think the show for TE’s this training camp will be an interesting one.
Like the WR situation, the Giants lost veteran Brandon Jacobs when they could not reach a new contract agreement. Jacobs is now with San Francisco. Who do they have left?
The Giants have some depth, but it’s not as deep as the WRs. Ahmad Bradshaw will continue to assume the starting role responsibilities, however he is recovering from a fracture in his foot. He’ll be healthy to participate in training camp and start the season off, but he’s injury prone. The Giants need to finalize some reliable backups.
First round draft pick David Wilson from Virginia Tech would be an easy choice, but like Randle he’ll need to develop enough in time to play a key role. I don’t think he’ll have much of an issue making a statement in training camp, but it’s the question of transitioning onto the regular season field that is always the up in the air for rookies.
The Giants also have DJ Ware who is, in my opinion, pretty underrated. I’m a little surprised he wasn’t used more, especially when both Jacobs and Bradshaw were battling injuries. Ware had 46 carries for 163 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry. He showed last season that he has the speed to break through the defensive lines. I think he should be used more in 2012.
In 2011, the offensive line behind Eli Manning was pretty horrific. Manning was sacked 28 times during the regular season. He’s a tough QB, but no one should have to take that many hits. Kareem McKenzie failed to do his job of protecting Manning, which probably explains the reason why he’s not back with the team.
The key behind the Giants becoming a strong offensive line is a healthy David Baas. Baas was brought to the team in 2011 hoping to hone his skills, but he was riddled with injuries that sidelined him for most of the season.
The tackles have a highly important role this season. They really need to step up and provide better protection for Manning. David Diehl and Will Beatty will be the go-to guys to protect, and hopefully Sean Locklear can bring a verteran and leadership presence to make the position stronger.
The special teams played a huge role in the Giants run for the Super Bowl.
Their kicker Lawrence Tynes made the crucial FG that put them in the big game, but it was the work of punter Steve Weatherford that made a huge difference. Weatherford punted for 3,745 yards in the regular season average 45.7 yards. In the postseason he managed to put the ball deep into the opposing teams end, making it extra difficult to come back down the field.
Overall the New York Giants offense is almost, just almost a match to last year. A few tweaks here and there and they’ll be better. The biggest challenge will be getting the offensive line a lot stronger. A strong o-line gives more freedom to Manning.