The Giants open training camp tomorrow, signaling the end of the off season and officially starting the on field portion of the 2014 season. As the team is participating the the Hall of Fame game this year, their first preseason game is only 2 weeks away. First practice is Tuesday, July 22nd, from 1:20 PM to 3:30 PM. Click here for the full schedule and details about attending. Their opponent, the Buffalo Bills, opened camp on Friday. The long football free drought is finally over. Here’s a summer six-pack of things to look for as camp opens:
How will Eli Manning bounce back from his worst season as a professional?
Manning was sacked 39 times and threw a career and league high 27 interceptions in 2013. Much of it can be blamed on the injuries to the offensive line, and lack of a sustainable running game, and it ultimately cost offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride his job, but Manning must bounce back this season. Despite a need for cap space during this off season’s free agency spending spree, the Giants did not extend Manning’s contract, which expires at the end of next season. There have been whispers that his best years are behind him as he will be 34 at the end of the 2014 season. In addition to learning a new offense for the first time since his rookie year, Manning is also playing for a new contract.
Will the rebuilt offensive line come together and provide both run blocking and pass protection?
Guard Geoff Schwartz was the big signing on offense in free agency. The other additions, Charles Brown, J.D. Walton, and John Jerry can be best described as journeymen. There have been reports that nagging injuries may cause Chris Snee to retire before the season starts, thrusting Jerry, holdover Brandon Moseley, or rookie Weston Richburg into the starting lineup. The extra preseason game will give them time to gel before the season starts, but only if the starting lineup is settled early in camp. And that will depend on Will Beatty’s recovery timetable from last season’s broken leg.
Who will be the starting tight end and how much will he contribute to the offense?
Ben McAdoo learned offense in Green Bay, and the Packer’s offense always featured the tight end prominently. Of the five tight ends currently on the roster, none strike fear into an opponent or create the match up problems that open up opportunities for other players. Currently, oft injured, perennial under-performer Adrien Robinson sits atop the depth chart threatening to break out yet again. He has the talent but has yet to show the ability to stay healthy or the desire to succeed at the NFL level. Second year player Larry Donnell is an accomplished blocker that struggles running pass routes. He has the best opportunity to unseat Robinson and make an impact as the starter in Detroit on September 8th.
Will David Wilson be finally cleared for contact? What will his role be if and when he is?
Neck injuries are tricky and the potential for devastating re-injury will weigh heavily on both player and team if and when Wilson returns to the field. Rashad Jennings was signed to serve as the primary ball carrier and the early word is that he has looked good in non-contact drills. Wilson, conversely, has not demonstrated that he is an every down back in the NFL and seems best suited as a shared carry back and dynamic kick returner. That presumes that the team physicians look at his neck tomorrow and say he can return to the field and when he does, he is not tentative after missing most of last season.
When will Jon Beason return from his toe injury and how effective will he be upon his return?
Beason solidified the Giants defense when he joined then last October, but the knock on the 8th year linebacker has always been his ability to stay on the field. This red flag popped up again during the Organized Team Activities when Beason sustained a toe injury that will keep him out until at least the regular season opener. Word on the street is he will return for the second game against Arizona, but toe injuries are tricky and have a tendency to be nagging in nature. The silver lining to this injury is that is happened early, giving the Giants ample time to adjust and opens the door for impressive rookies Devon Kennard and Dan Fox to impress the coaches. However, the best things for a solid Giant defense is a healthy Beason to be in the starting lineup on opening night in Detroit.
Will the lack of Safety depth derail the rebuilt secondary?
The focus of the Giants retooling on defense was the secondary and the crown jewel of their free agency class is cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He and Prince Amukamara give the Giants the best pair of cover cornerbacks since the days of Jason Sehorn and Phillipi Sparks. Will Hill’s third consecutive substance abuse suspension and subsequent release leaves the team dangerously thin at safety behind starters Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown. Quintin Demps is first up, but he was signed primarily as a kick returner. Second year player Cooper Taylor has impressive size and speed, but has yet to show that he can stay on the field and rookies C.J. Barnett and Nat Berhe will need to show that they belong in the NFL before they see time on the field. The team must hope that Rolle and Brown stay healthy and may scan the waiver wire for a veteran safety for depth in late August.
Check back here frequently during training camp and the preseason for news, notes, and opinions on the Giants. Comment below or on Twitter @hypercaffeinated or @Giants360 with your reaction to these articles. I’ll also consider live tweeting the preseason games if there is interest.