Ahhhhhh, football is back. The New York Giants open training camp today, after an exciting season that saw them return to the post season for the first time since 2011. Although it was a disappointing first round exit vs the Green Bay Packers, this team has high expectations entering the 2017/18 season. Here are 5 positions to watch entering training camp:
The biggest question mark of 2016, is still the biggest question mark for the Giants entering camp in 2017. Are the guys they have at offensive line good enough? Last year they weren’t. The interior line play was actually pretty strong, but the Giants struggled at the tackle positions with Erick Flowers and Bobby Hart looking like subway turnstiles. Flowers (at left tackle) and Hart (at right tackle) will certainly be under the microscope all camp long, and will most likely be the two most watched players on the roster.
After the fans were screaming for the Giants to make some additions to either compete with or replace Flowers and Hart, the team drafted Adam Bisnowaty, and signed former first round pick (and current bust) DJ Fluker. Bisnowaty is raw and may turn into a steal being drafted in the 6th round, but I’m not sure how much he can contribute in 2017. Fluker on the other hand never lived up to his first round hype in San Diego, and was brought in to compete at both guard and tackle positions. Hopefully a change of scenery will do him some good, and he will compete and possibly win one of the starting jobs.
Is there a such thing as having too many running backs? The past few years, it feels like the running back position has been a revolving door with the Giants. Think about this, the Giants haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since 2012 (Ahmad Bradshaw 1,015 yards). With the departure of Rashad Jennings, Coach Ben Mcadoo has named second year player Paul Perkins the starter, and he certainly showed some flashes of his athletic ability in his rookie season. Perkins is one of the Giants I am most excited to watch in 2017, and I think he can be a force on the ground for the Giants.
Shane Vereen had a rough 2016, dealing with multiple injuries (he tore his triceps twice) and only played in 5 games. He is one of the best pass catching backs in the league, and he was sorely missed last season. I fully expect him to return to pronounce in his role as a 3rd down/pass catching back for this offense.
Rookie 4th round pick Wayne Gallman and veteran Orleans Darkwa will battle for carries behind Perkins and Vereen. Gallman is coming off a great college career, and was apart of the 2016 National Champions Clemson Tigers. Gallman is a punishing runner, and might take over as the Giants short yardage back with a strong camp and preseason. Perkins and Gallman are the future at RB for the Giants, and could be the next thunder and lightning combo for the Giants.
Darkwa is a fan favorite, and someone I’ve personally wanted to see get more carries. He’s not a flashy back, but always seems to get positive yards on every carry. He’ll be a solid veteran to have behind the young guys and Vereen.
Sticking with the offense, the Giants haven’t had a stud Tight End since Jeremy Shockey. Larry Donnell is finally off the team (thank god), and the Giants made a splash selecting Evan Engram out of Ole Miss with their 23rd overall pick. At 6′ 3″ 240 lbs, Engram is not your prototypical tight end. You can almost call him a wide receiver the way he lines up and looks running routes. He will help stretch the defense, and should help the Giants attack the middle of the field with seam routes, something they lacked in 2016. His pro comparison by many analysts is Jordan Reed. If he can be any close to that comparison, he will be an exciting and fun player to watch for years to come.
In addition to Engram, the Giants signed blocking tight end Rhett Ellison. Ellison is not known for his pass catching abilities, and will mostly be used as a blocker/6th lineman.
Veterans Will Tye, Matt LaCosse and Jerell Adams round out the tight end depth chart. Tye has done decent as a fill in/backup, but he is extremely limited physically. LaCosse and Adams are athletic tight ends the Giants fans have been excited about for a few years, but they can never seem to stay healthy. Out of those 3, it will be likely that two of them will be gone. If LaCosse and Adams can stay healthy, Tye will be the odd man out.
Another position of instability for the Giants has been linebacker. The Giants defense was much improved last year because of their additions on the D Line and secondary, and was actually one of the top defensive units in 2016. The Giants got solid play from the group in 2016, and Jonathon Casillas, Devon Kennard, and BJ Goodson are the slated starters going into camp. JT Thomas, Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich will be battling for both playing time, and to stay on the roster.
After the fiasco of Josh Brown last year, Robbie Gould finished the season as the Giants kicker. Gould was solid, but signed in the off-season with the 49ers. I know kicker isn’t the sexiest position to talk about, but the current Giants starting kicked has never kicked in an NFL game. Aldrick Rosas has a very strong leg, and has been receiving rave reviews in OTA’s and workouts, but he is unproven. With the moving back of the extra point, and the importance of a kicker on a team with super bowl aspirations(see Lawrence Tynes), I fully expect the Giants to bring in a veteran or two to compete with Rosas in camp and the preseason.
With this team’s drastic improvement in 2016, including making the playoffs under first year head coach Ben Mcadoo, the expectations are high. Anything less than a deep run in the playoffs and most realistic fans will be disappointed. Stay tuned to The Sports Chill for all of your Giants news and updates all season long.