Training camp starts Monday, and all we can say is Thank God. After all, it’s been too long since football has really been in full gear. The Giants don’t have too many position battles—a good thing. However, there are some things to watch for at this training camp.
We’ve written ad nauseam about the Giants supposed issues at wide receiver. Losing Plaxico and Toomer will be big losses—we know this. And there is plenty talent—Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon, Mario Manningham et al. This training camp will help determine who starts the year. It will be a fierce battle for the number 1, 2 and 3 positions. It’s all up in the air. The focus will be on Steve Smith. Can he assert himself as a number one receiver? The focus will be on Domenik Hixon. Can he become a reliable deep threat? The focus will be on Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss. Can they make the progress expected of them, and can they continue on the success of their mini camp? The focus will be on the rookies, Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden. Will they adjust to being an NFL receiver quickly? There’s no denying the talent. And there’s no denying the questions. But, I don’t think it’s an “issue”. After all, the Giants win with running and defense. The talent on the team needs to step up, and this training camp will determine who does.
I’m not concerned about his play. That’s the last thing I’m concerned about. He’s proven himself to be in the upper echelon of NFL QBs. I’m more worried about his contract status. His contract expires at the end of the year. The last thing the Giants want is for him to enter free agency. I don’t think that will happen. Rather, I think they will get a deal done right before the season starts, a la Plaxico Burress last year. But, you’ll be hearing questions of his contract status all camp long. It would be best for the Giants to lock him up now, and not worry.
Who is going to replace Derrick Ward’s production?
For all intents and purposes, it’s going to be Ahmad Bradshaw. Remember it was him, not Ward, who helped the Giants win the Super Bowl. Bradshaw is a perfect change of pace back, and he’s a more than capable receiver. He has big shoes to fill, though. Derrick Ward did have over 1,000 yards rushing. If Bradshaw finishes in the 800 yard range, it will be a success. Andre Brown and Danny Ware will have to fill Bradshaw’s role of 4th quarter explosive back. I think they are capable.
When will they get healthy?
We posted a list of all the hurting G-Men earlier. It’s not pretty. Michael Boley, Osi Umenyoria, Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, Rocky Bernard, Fred Robbins, the list goes on. Many of these injuries might be precautionary. You don’t want a guy to get more hurt than they have too. It’s a long list. And if these guys can’t get healthy, especially Webster, Boley and Umenyoria, it could be a long year.
Normally I’m not worried about Pierce. This year I am. His play dropped considerably towards the end of the year. Now, he has a pending legal investigation. That’s a lot on his plate. While I don’t doubt Pierce can block out the legal distractions, he has to be quicker covering backs like Brian Westbrook. It seems that after the Plax incident, he couldn’t cover those guys. I don’t know if they plan on taking him out on passing downs. But he has to be better in pass coverage. Opposing teams will continue to exploit that until he does.
Domenik Hixon was a god send in the 2007 season when he became the kick returner. But when he was moved into starting receiver duty, he stopped returning. The Giants didn’t really have anyone to fill the void. Same with punt return. This might be one of the fiercest battles. Will it be Hixon? Bradshaw? Manningham or Moss? Will they use Aaron Ross, who was a tremendous punt returner in college? They have options. The best guy will win.
I, for one, am very excited for the upcoming season. The Giants have one of the best defenses in the league, one of the best running backs, and one of the best QBs. It’s an exciting time to be a Giant fan. While there are some concerns, there is no perfect team. This Giants team is a damn good team. A team capable of a deep run in the playoffs. So sit back and buckle your seat belts. It will be a fun ride. And of course, GiantsGab will be Giants central. We’ll have news, predictions, commentary and more. Are you ready for some football?