The New York Giants began their voluntary mini-camp today and there are several questions that will need answering as we make our way towards the 2012 NFL season. That seems about enough lead-in as necessary, so let’s not waste any more time.
No. 5 – Can Victor Cruz Sustain his Success?
Victor Cruz blasted onto the NFL scene last year with his scintillating performances and big plays. He smashed the franchise record for receiving yards and was second to Calvin Johnson in plays of 40 yards or more. With teams now very much aware of the UMass sensation, can he keep up the production? As long as Hakeem Nicks is across from him drawing the double teams, there should be no doubts.
No. 4 – Where does Keith Rivers Fit in?
The Giants upgraded their linebacking corps when they traded a 2012 fifth round pick for Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers, but is there any room for the former No. 9 overall pick? The Giants opened their minicamp with Michael Boley, Chase Blackburn, and Mathias Kiwanuka as the starting linebackers. The Super Bowl winning combination has the early edge, but Rivers has a ton of upside, and even more time to prove himself.
No. 3 – Who Replaces Brandon Jacobs?
The Giants drafted David Wilson in the first round of this year’s draft, and if you’re thinking he’s not going to have an impact in year one you need a CAT scan. That said, the Giants leaned on DJ Ware a bit last season and still have speedster Da’Rel Scott. I actually think Ware could be on his way out, but wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see the Giants use three backs next season. It worked very well for them in 2008, and they need to get back to running the football like they have in years past. Eli Manning can’t carry them to two Super Bowls, can he?
No. 2 – Who Replaces Mario Manningham?
Mario Manningham decided it was best for him to pursue an opportunity that gives him the chance to start. I can’t blame him, he is definitely the third option as a Giants. But which wide receiver is most likely to replace him? Albeit four seasons ago, Domenik Hixon had a fine 2008 with 43 receptions and 596 yards as the third or even fourth option. Jerrel Jernigan is a speedster who could occupy the slot and Ramses Barden has unbelievable measurements but just needs to stay healthy. My money is going on 2012 second round pick Rueben Randle, however, as he has already been wildly impressive in his short sting in camps. The coaching staff has raved about him so far, and his ability to go deep and be effective in the red zone give him a strong case to play opposite Nicks, with Cruz manning the slot.
No. 1 – Who Will be the Starting Offensive Line?
We have waited on pins and needles all offseason long to see the starting offensive line for the first time. With Will Beatty sitting out today, the starting left tackle was 2012 sixth round pick Matt McCants, but the rest of the group was Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee and David Diehl (from left guard to right tackle). I couldn’t be more upset about this. I was hoping the Giants would give Mitch Petrus the starting left guard job from day one, given that he offers more upside, especially as a run blocker. I also believed James Brewer would get his opportunity at right tackle this season, but obviously the Giants still have faith in David Diehl (or do not believe Brewer is ready). I’m not sure why, but hopefully it works out. Honestly, you cannot get much worse than the Giants were on this group last season.
So there you have it. Keep an eye on these situations during the camps and you are sure to be entertained.
Jeff is an NFL Featured Columnist for RantSports.com.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @Jeff_Shull