2012 TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: NEW YORK GIANTS
"Giants training camp preview
TRAINING CAMP GOALS
1. Settle the offensive line. With the Giants choosing not to re-sign veteran
Kareem McKenzie, the plan is to move David Diehl, who last year started the
season as the starting left guard before having to move to left tackle after
Will Beatty suffered a season-ending eye injury, to the vacant right tackle
spot. Meanwhile, at left guard, Kevin Boothe is expected to enter camp as the
incumbent, though Mitch Petrus will compete for that spot as well.
The problem, though, is that Beatty, who was cleared medically as far as his
eye injury is concerned, developed a back problem early in the spring that kept
him sidelined throughout the OTAs and the spring minicamp. While he was
optimistic that the rest would help him be ready for the start of camp,
offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made little attempt to hide his concern
when the team concluded its spring program.
If Beatty is limited in any way, the coaches will audition veteran free agent
Sean Locklear, acquired this spring, and second-year man James Brewer, who last
year was mostly inactive, at that position.
2. Find a starting middle linebacker. The good news is that the team brought
back Chase Blackburn, who after signing with the Giants in December following a
broken ankle suffered by Mark Herzlich, held onto the job and performed well
right through the Super Bowl. Because of that, Blackburn will enter training
camp as the incumbent starting middle linebacker, though whether he exits camp
with the job remains to be seen.
The Giants have an abundance of talent that is set to challenge for the
starting middle linebacker job. In addition to Herzlich, the undrafted free
agent whose inspirational comeback from cancer has made him a fan favorite,
there's former sixth-round draft pick Greg Jones, who last season began the year
as the starter after Jonathan Goff suffered a season-ending knee injury.
If this position isn't settled by the end of camp, look for Blackburn to
remain the starter.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Safety Will Hill, an undrafted free agent out of Florida, got himself noticed
this spring by making plays against the run and in coverage. If he is able to
build on his strong spring showing during the preseason, and stay focused off
the field, he could find himself as the recipient of one of the 53 available
ON THE HOT SEAT
Tight end Martellus Bennett, the free-agent acquisition from the Cowboys,
comes to the Giants with 85 receptions for 846 yards and four touchdowns
accumulated over a four-year career playing behind All-Pro Jason Witten. While
those numbers aren't gaudy, over the course of his career, Bennett has caught 70
percent of the balls thrown his way, which is an encouraging statistic.
However, he comes to the Giants with questions about his work ethic and his
offseason weight gain. If Bennett doesn't produce, the team may be forced to
rely on rookie Adrien Robinson, who missed most of the Giants' spring
orientation and workouts because he had to finish his classes at the University
of Cincinnati, a lot sooner than they'd probably like.
Several changes coming on offensive unit
--For the first time in quite a while, the Giants offense will be undergoing
a significant overhaul at nearly every position except for one: quarterback.
Given all the change that is expected -- the offensive line and tight ends
units will each have at least one new starter, while the running backs and wide
receivers will be looking to fill the second and third spots on their respective
units -- head coach Tom Coughlin believes that if the team sticks to the
principles that got them to the Super Bowl, the transition should be smooth.
"There are changes; there is no doubt about that, but I like the way that our
team responded and finished," he said. "The big key for our team is the bridging
over of all of those values and virtues and principles that we carried forward
from 7-7 on.
"I have every confidence that they will come back just as inspired to want to
play at their very best," he added. "If we play with harmony with all three
phases like we are capable of and we carry these things over and we encourage
these young guys to be a part of it and we improve ... we will be
--On an interview with WFNZ Radio in Charlotte, N.C., wide receiver Hakeem
Nick reiterated his goal to be ready for training camp. Nicks suffered a broken
bone in his foot during OTAs in May.
Nicks said, "Definitely making training camp. I started running about two
weeks (ago) but the coaches don't really want me to force the issue right now so
I still haven't started running yet. They want me to just take my time with it
-- they feel like that's what's best. So right now I'm just taking my time with
it. ... But I'll definitely be ready for the season."
--So how did the Giants come through in this, their first offseason operating
under the new and more restrictive Collective Bargaining Agreement rules that
not only limit on-field activity, but also reduced the time the coaches could
spend with the players?
"I'm going to have to look at that, to be honest with you," said head coach
Tom Coughlin. "We really threw a lot at them (mentally). We won't know exactly
how much they have allowed that stuff to be absorbed until we get to camp."
--The Giants' decision to re-sign defensive tackle Rocky Bernard raised more
than a few eyebrows, especially considering that they are expecting to have
Marvin Austin back this year to join seventh-round draft pick Markus Kuhn and
veteran Shaun Rogers, the latter of whom was signed just before the start of the
"Good football player that helps us in a lot of different ways; solid, solid
guy -- great in the classroom, great with his teammates," said head coach Tom
Coughlin. "We know exactly what we can get out of him. He is in excellent shape.
His weight is outstanding. So you can't have enough quality football
"It's great to have Rocky Bernard back," added defensive coordinator Perry
Fewell. "He is a rock in our defense. He's a very solid guy that plays very
--Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty will take part in the three-day, United
Way Youth Empowerment Summit hosted at American University. The event engages
participants in identifying opportunities to improve the academic success of
American students and create engagement opportunities for Team NFL members and
their supporters to recruit readers, tutors, and mentors.
"One of the most important investments we can make is in our students," said
Canty, who will also be hosting youth football camps this summer in Charlotte,
N.C. and in northern New Jersey.
"I applaud the United Way and TEAM NFL volunteers and supporters for actively
seeking opportunities to plant good seeds so that the future of America, our
students, can blossom into well-educated, productive men and women."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The goal is always to win the Super Bowl, be responsible,
take care of yourselves, enjoy yourselves, but let's make sure we can all get
back together with a smile on our face and a stern look in our eye when we come
back together on (July) 26." -- Head coach Tom Coughlin, on what his final
message was to his team prior to dismissing them for the summer.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell reiterated that Chase Blackburn will be
the team's starting middle linebacker when they open up training camp on July 26
at the University of Albany.
"Right now Chase is our guy and no one's clearly beaten him out for the
position," Fewell said after the Giants wrapped up their three-day minicamp
earlier this month.
"Chase has some distinct advantages over some of the other guys. I said to
the defense in our meeting, if I want to re-write my playbook, I would get
Chase's notes and re-write our playbook. When I ask a question or when I talk
about a defense in there, he puts the addendums in. He probably knows as much
about our defense and how to make the calls and run our defense as any of those
linebackers, with the exception of Michael Boley right now."
However, Fewell admitted that Blackburn's hold on the starting job was far
from being a slam-dunk given the competition that will include Greg Jones, Mark
Herzlich, and Keith Rivers.
"I'd love for him to physically hang in there and (remain the starter), no
doubt about it," Fewell said. "He does add something to our unit, so I would
love for him to do that. Can he do that? I can't say."
--DT Chris Canty missed the entire offseason program because of knee surgery,
but he says he will be ready for camp. Said Canty, "All signs point to go. I'm
feeling good about training camp."
QUARTERBACKS: Starter -- Eli Manning. Backups -- David Carr, Ryan
Not much to see here, as barring a disaster, two-time Super Bowl MVP Manning
will once again take the reins on offense while the veteran Carr will serve as
his backup. Meanwhile, the Giants will see if Perrilloux, who showed exceptional
arm strength during the spring practices, has improved any with his
RUNNING BACKS: Starter -- Ahmad Bradshaw. Backups -- D.J. Ware, Da'Rel Scott,
David Wilson, Andre Brown, RB/FB Joe Martinek, FB Henry Hynoski.
The Giants are looking to infuse some explosiveness into a unit whose
per-game rushing average was last in the NFL last season. To do that, they added
Wilson in the first round of the draft; however, whether Wilson actually gets on
the field come opening day remains to be seen, as he must demonstrate that he
can pass block. Meanwhile, Ware, Scott, and Brown will all compete for the third
running back spot, though a sleeper in the mix could be Martinek, the former
Rutgers star, who will also receive snaps as the backup fullback. If Martinek
shows that he has a good grasp of both positions, his value might be hard for
the coaches to ignore.
TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- Bear Pascoe. Backups -- Martellus Bennett, Adrien
Robinson, Christian Hopkins, Larry Donnell, Ryan Purvis, Travis Beckum.
The Giants are again hoping to find someone from a relatively unproven group
emerge as a valued contributor on offense. The most likely candidate is Bennett,
the former Cowboy who signed a one-year "prove it" contract this past offseason.
Bennett has been saying all the right things, but action speaks louder than
words, so he remains a question mark. Robinson, the rookie draft pick, has a lot
of catching up to do to make up for the time he lost while finishing up school;
look for him to get a crash course this summer from tight ends coach Mike Pope.
Pascoe, the longest tenured Giant at the tight-end position, is the starter by
default given his experience, though he could see his role evolve into that of
an H-back. Beckum, who will probably start the year on PUP as he continues to
recover from a torn ACL suffered in the Super Bowl, has expressed optimism about
returning at some point this year. However, as long as the trio of Pascoe,
Bennett and Robinson are healthy and performing, the chances that Beckum suits
up in this, the final year of his contract, are slim.
WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz. Backups -- Domenik
Hixon, Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan, Rueben Randle, Dan DePalma, Julian
Talley, David Douglas, Isaiah Stanback, Brandon Collins.
Although Nicks expressed optimism that he'd be able to return from a broken
foot in time for camp, the Giants are probably going to hold him out so that
he's better assured of being ready for the start of the regular season. The
silver lining in Nicks' summertime absence is that the coaches will be able to
give more opportunities to receivers such as Hixon, Randle, Barden, and
Jernigan, all of whom are competing for the third wideout spot. Randle, the
rookie second-round draft pick, is believed to be the favorite for the role;
however, don't discount Hixon, who despite having missed two years in a row due
to a torn ACL, has experience on his side. Barden, who is entering his contract
year, will need to produce early in camp if he is to get on the field, and once
he's on the field, the injury-prone receiver will need to find a way to stay
there. Jernigan will probably continue in his role on special teams as a kickoff
returner and will look to add punt returner to his duties. Collins, an undrafted
rookie, drew praise from offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride this spring for
running good routes and catching most everything thrown his way. However,
Collins might have a more realistic chance at landing on the practice squad if
he has a strong summer.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C David Baas,
RG Chris Snee, RT David Diehl. Backups -- G Mitch Petrus, T Sean Locklear, T
James Brewer, G/C Jim Cordle, T Matt McCants, T Brandon Mosley, T Joel Reinders,
C/G Chris White, G Stephen Goodin, OL Selvish Capers.
With the team deciding not to re-sign veteran offensive tackle Kareem
McKenzie, Diehl is projected to move to right tackle. However, if Beatty's back
problem, which kept him out of the spring workouts, remains an issue, that would
cause a change in plans, the most likely scenario being Diehl at left tackle and
either veteran Locklear or second-year man Brewer at right tackle. Boothe and
Petrus will battle for the starting left guard spot, where Boothe is the
incumbent. Of the two rookie tackles, McCants and Mosley, the former flashed
during the spring at left tackle and could end up with a roster spot, while
Mosley, who did the majority of his work at right tackle, might have a little
more of an uphill battle to make the final roster.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Justin Tuck, RDE Jason Pierre-Paul, NT
Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty. Backups -- DE Osi Umenyiora, DE Justin Trattou,
DE Craig Marshall, DE Matt Broha, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Shaun
Rogers, DE Adrian Tracy, DT Marvin Austin, DT Dewayne Hendricks, DT Martin
Parker, DT Markus Kuhn.
The Giants need to fill the fourth defensive end spot previously held by Dave
Tollefson, who signed with the Raiders this offseason. Trattou, an undrafted
free agent added to the 53-man roster last year, and Tracy, the former 2010
sixth-round draft pick, figure to be the leading contenders for that position.
At defensive tackle, the Giants appear to be heading to camp with some injury
concerns. Canty (knee), Joseph (ankle), and Rogers (elbow) all were either
limited or inactive in the spring, something that likely convinced the team to
bring back Bernard. Another concern is Austin, who, despite drawing praise from
defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, hasn't been on the field for about three
years for various reasons. Kuhn, the seventh-round draft pick, will likely have
an uphill battle to make the final roster given that the issues that kept him
out of spring practices have caused him to fall behind.
LINEBACKERS: Starters -- SLB Mathias Kiwanuka, MLB Chase Blackburn, WLB
Michael Boley. Backups -- Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams,
Spencer Paysinger, Greg Jones, Clint Sintim, Jake Muasau.
The good news is that there is more than enough candidates competing for the
starting middle linebacker spot as Herzlich, Jones, and Rivers will get chances
to take the job from Blackburn. The bad news is that none of those candidates
managed to take a lead in the competition based on their work this past spring,
though Herzlich, who got the starting job last year midway through until a
broken ankle sidelined him could be an early favorite to emerge as the long-term
starter. In an effort to improve the depth at each position, the coaches will
look to expand the knowledge of a couple of second-year guys such as Jones and
Paysinger, both of whom are expected to get snaps at the strong-side linebacker
spot. That could spell the end for Sintim, the former second-round pick who has
never really fit in with this defense and who has been limited by injuries.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- LCB Corey Webster, RCB Terrell Thomas, FS Antrel
Rolle, SS Kenny Phillips. Backups -- CB Prince Amukamara, CB Bruce Johnson, CB
Jayron Hosley, CB Antwaun Molden, CB Justin Tryon, CB Brandon Bing, CB Dante
Hughes, CB Michael Coe, CB Brian Witherspoon, S Steve Brown, S Tyler Sash, S
Chris Horton, S Will Hill, S Janzen Jackson, S Jojo Nicolas.
Thomas, the incumbent at right cornerback, is telling anyone who'll listen
that the starting job is his to lose, but until he shows that his surgically
repaired knee can withstand all the movement a cornerback must do, his return to
his pre-injury self is far from guaranteed. Amukamara, last year's first-round
pick, finally put his foot issues behind him, and is eyeing the starting right
cornerback spot as well. The coaches have been impressed with Hosley, the
third-round draft pick this year, who despite his smallish size, has shown a
fearlessness in coverage against the bigger receivers. He will compete for
playing time in the nickel. Molden, the veteran, will likely round out the
cornerback depth, though Tryon and Coe, both of whom excelled on special teams
last year before each suffering a season-ending injury, will try to hang on. At
safety, Hill and Brown each received unsolicited praise from the defensive
coaches, with the former, a rookie, emerging as a darkhorse candidate for a
roster spot. Sash, a second-year player and former sixth-round draft pick,
suffered a hamstring strain during the spring OTAs, but should be cleared to
resume his quest for the third safety spot previously held by Deon Grant.
SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Lawrence Tynes, P Steve Weatherford, LS Zak DeOssie, KOR
Da'Rel Scott, PR Jerrel Jernigan.
One of the more interesting battles of camp will be the two returner jobs.
Scott will look to hold onto the kickoff return role, which, if he does, could
boost his chances of holding a roster spot. Meanwhile, at the punt returner
spot, Domenik Hixon is itching to get his old job back from Jernigan, who last
year flashed in the role. The team could also try receiver Rueben Randle and
cornerback Jayron Hosley as returners as well."