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NFL New York Giants

5 Unheralded New York Giants Who Must Step Up in 2014

New York Giants: 5 Unheralded Players Who Must Step Up in 2014

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After a disappointing 7-9 campaign, the New York Giants have been incredibly active in free agency. However, as a result, they've also watched several key cogs walk out the door and will be relying on some unheralded names to pick up the slack for players like Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, and Hakeem Nicks. Whether these players are able to handle bigger roles will be a significant determinant in the Giants' ability to rebound next season.

5. J.D. Walton, C

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5. J.D. Walton, C

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J.D. Walton hasn't played a game since Week 4 of the 2012 season, but the Giants decided to take a flier on him this offseason. It remains to be seen whether Walton will be handed the starting spot outright or if the Giants will bring in more competition via free agency or the draft, but with the interior of the line performing as poorly as it did in 2013, the center position is going to be a big key to the Giants' success in 2014.

4. Jerrel Jernigan, WR

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4. Jerrel Jernigan, WR

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Jerrel Jernigan didn't do much in his first two and a half seasons in the NFL, but came on strong towards the end of 2013. Jernigan gave the Giants a glimpse of what he can bring to the table and with Hakeem Nicks leaving for Indianapolis, the Giants are going to need their auxiliary receivers to step up big time to help out Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Even though the team brought back Mario Manningham, Jernigan will play a key role in 2014.

3. Damontre Moore, DE

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3. Damontre Moore, DE

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Longtime Giant Justin Tuck left via free agency this offseason, leaving a huge void for the Giants to fill at defensive end. While there's a distinct possibility the Giants will address this position in the draft, last year's third-round pick Damontre Moore figures to fit squarely into the defensive end equation. Moore showed flashes last season, but will need to improve his consistency if he's to replace Tuck.

2. Cullen Jenkins, DT

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2. Cullen Jenkins, DT

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The Giants watched their best defensive tackle Linval Joseph sign with the Minnesota Vikings and as such, the holdovers in the middle of the defensive line will need to pick up the slack. Jenkins was signed last offseason and did an admirable job in 2013, but he'll need to take on an even bigger role in 2014, especially with the likelihood that first-time starter Johnathan Hankins will be lining up next to him.

1. Will Beatty, OT

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1. Will Beatty, OT

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The Giants handed Will Beatty a huge contract before last season and he responded by having the worst season of his pro career. Beatty also broke his leg in Week 17 against Washington, and whether he's ready for training camp or the regular season is anyone's guess. Assuming Beatty returns healthy and the Giants don't draft a replacement in May, his improved play will go a long way towards solving the Giants' offensive line woes.