New York Giants 2013 Training Camp Preview
New York Giants 2013 Training Camp Preview
The New York Giants will always have a shot to get hot late and make a Super Bowl run. As long as Eli Manning is in his prime, Tom Coughlin's still around and the defensive line is loaded with talent, this potential scenario remains in place. And it will in 2013.
However, there are quite few mitigating factors heading into Giants training camp that could make this campaign much easier or far more difficult, depending on who steps forward at a couple murky areas on the depth chart. On the bright side, Big Blue got through minicamp without any horrific injuries to crucial players. So far so good. The Giants rarely if ever get through training camp and preseason without Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Hakeem Nicks, Terrell Thomas, etc., etc. goes down. the fanbase is asking me not to jinx it, and I point this out to avoid doing so.
''If we hopefully stay healthy, we have a chance to be just as good as anybody,'' Giants owner John Mara said, via The Associated Press. ''We signed a lot of guys to one-year deals and giving them the opportunity to re-invent themselves a little. But I think we have a solid team. We hope that having the Super Bowl here (at MetLife) serves as a motivation, but there's motivation enough to do well. As long as our quarterback (Eli Manning) is behind center, we have a chance to win.''
How talented young players like David Wilson improve during training camp and others attack position battles could prove an even bigger difference than injuries as to whether this team earns a playoff bid.
Manning remains the heart of the Giants but must return to his 2011 form after struggling mightily in November and December last season, which has also become somewhat of a trend in his career. If Manning's not on his game New York is going nowhere. Fourth-rounder Ryan Nassib provides nice asset as a backup.
David Wilson's productivity far surpassed his workload in 2012 because Coughlin's already really conservative about playing rookies and Wilson fumbled early on. Yet, there were middle portions of last season where Wilson was doing more with his opportunities than any other weapon on the offense in its period of struggle, yet Coughlin would still limit him. Wilson enters his second training camp with a focus on protecting the football; how he improves this area will be huge for the Giants and his number of reps. Andre Brown is a good goal-line option and a nice back overall, but Wilson could truly have CJ Spiller-type potential in my opinion. The loss of fullback Henry "Hynocerus" Hynoski certainly hurts, and New York may opt for tight end Bear Pascoe (another awesome fullback name) in that role.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
General manager Jerry Reese is surely relieved to get Victor Cruz under contract, but the Hakeem Nicks bridge still needs to be crossed in that regard. Whether that manifests itself in a bounce-back year for Nicks remains to be seen and Eli's certainly eager to have main outside option healthy. Rueben Randle got to show a few things late last season, reeling in two touchdowns during the season finale against Philly. Free agent Louis Murphy and recent draft selections Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan battle for the remaining roster spots at receiver. Free agent Brandon Myers provides a nice pass-catching option at tight end but offers little in the way of blocking. Ideally, Adrien Robinson develops quickly in camp and gives New York the threat of each on most downs.
The Giants starting offensive line went from old and struggling to young and strong real quick over the past year. If rookie first-rounder Justin Pugh beats David Diehl for the right tackle spot in training camp, then the average age of Big Blue's O-line would be in the 28-29 range. Center David Baas would probably be the only real weak spot at that point, with RG Chris Snee among the better run-blockers out there and the Will Beatty-Kevin Boothe combo putting up an underrated left wall.
Once upon a time the Giants won two Super Bowls in five years largely on the back of stellar defensive line play. That wasn't quite the case last year as Justin Tuck fell deep into his slump and the interior struggled. Jason Pierre-Paul's pass-rushing presence dropped off quite a bit despite still playing really well overall (and needing back surgery). If Tuck can hit 2010 form and JPP 2011 form the suddenly the Giants have the best defensive end pair in the league. Rookie Damontre Moore and vet Mathias Kiwanuka should also factor heavily in the edge rotation. Free agents Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers and early-round rookie Johnathan Hankins join longtime Giants Linval Joseph on the interior, an area which could really go either way for New York. Rogers and Jenkins have been amazing at times way earlier in their careers, while Joseph is the only reliable option here.
New York's secondary truly looks a mess right now and this didn't require a slew of injuries as in other offseason camps of the past. Terrell Thomas has yet to tear anything, and could be the key to Perry Fewell's defense running those three-safety packages that work so well when the personnel's in place. Crossing your fingers if you're a Giants fan that he stays healthy and returns to form after basically two seasons on IR. Stevie Brown performed well when Kenny Phillips went down last year and now holds the free safety spot, while Antrel Rolle needs that three-safety subpackage to avoid getting exposed in coverage as much and utilize his strengths near the line. Corey Webster fell off a cliff last year and Aaron Ross fell off a cliff years ago, so this team really needs an outside corner like second-year slot man Jayron Hosley to step up.
Wilson was absolutely brilliant returning kicks his rookie season and that pulled him out of the doghouse. It will be interesting to see how that role is affected if Wilson begins getting heavy backfield work. Randle proved capable as a punt returner last year and probably retains that role by the end of game. Punter Steve Weatherford's been a revelation since joining the squad in 2011 and the kicker spot will come down to free agents David Buehler and Josh Brown.