The New York Giants roster is nearly complete, save for the addition of those picked up in the 2012 NFL draft and some minor free agent signings for depth, and it should be safe to consider what this forthcoming season may hold.
The defending Super Bowl champions had substantial success in 2011, of course, and much of that can be credited to their outstanding depth at positions that were drastically depleted by injuries over the course of the regular season. Rookies and young players were key contributors down the line and into the postseason.
In 2012, these players will be expected to play an even bigger role for the Giants. Here is a look at those players and the role they should play for Big Blue.
In his rookie season, seventh-round draft pick Da’Rel Scott saw minimal playing time as part of a crowded New York Giants backfield. However, the release of Brandon Jacobs and some healing time required for starter Ahmad Bradshaw should open up the doors for Scott to get some opportunities and touches when training camp opens up.
Scott is a speedy runner with great size for an NFL back. In limited carries last season, he showcased that speed well, excelling as an outside runner and kick returner for the Giants.
The Giants will be expecting more from their second-year player in 2012. With a great performance in camp, Scott could land himself the No. 2 running back spot behind Bradshaw and some valuable carries to show the Giants and the NFL what he’s got.
At the very least, Scott will see chances in the return game again this season where he ranked amongst the NFL’s best with 24.4 yards per return.
The sixth-round draft pick from Iowa shined for the New York Giants on special teams, boasting a knack to be in on every play he was involved in. In 2012, Sash’s expectations will grow with the departure of veteran safety Deon Grant.
Grant was vital for the Giants defense whenever they ran three-safety sets, being utilized for his stellar run-stopping ability.
With few other options currently on the roster, Sash could fill the void left by Grant, having shown he is a skillful tackler with a nose for getting to the ball carrier. And why not?
As a rookie, Sash paid his dues on special teams. Now, he should get the opportunity to prove his worth as part of the Giant's elite defensive unit.
Henry Hynoski is the type of fullback every head coach wants. He can block, run, catch the football and leap over defenders in a single bound.
In all seriousness, Hynoski proved he was a certain mainstay for years to come in the NFL during the second half of the season. The undrafted fullback caught nine passes for 65 yards in the Giants final six games of the regular season and was a major contributor in each of their wins over the division rival Dallas Cowboys.
In Super Bowl XLII, Hynoski was once again a pivotal piece in the Giants’ success. The University of Pittsburgh product bowled over defenders on two catches and opened up huge holes in favor of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs on the ground.
He had what Hynoski says some told him was his best game of the year. In doing so, Hynoski corralled the starting fullback spot for himself in 2012.
The second-year stud will garner more talk as his role takes on greater expectations in the upcoming season, but if his 2011 performance is any indication, both he and the Giants should be just fine.
Mark Herzlich is the representation of a champion. He scoffed in the face of cancer, surmounting such a devastating illness with unspeakable courage. When many would have quit, Herzlich battled to do what he loved to do—play football.
Now, the lion-hearted linebacker has a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season to show for it.
Despite going undrafted, Herzlich found ample opportunities during his first year with the Giants and played quite well, both at linebacker and on special teams. Though he was only able to hold onto the starting spot for two games, Herzlich was a strong presence on the gridiron for New York and was an important component in their Super Bowl run.
Herzlich will have the opportunity to earn more playing time heading into the 2012 season with the middle linebacker spot currently open for the taking. He will be in competition with fellow second-year players Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams, but may be the best fit at middle linebacker on the roster at this time.
The Giants offensive tackle Will Beatty has seen some tough times in his young NFL career. After going down with injuries the past two season, however, Beatty has his eyes set on a healthy 2012.
That would be the best option for Beatty and the Giants as the offensive line sputtered throughout the 2011 season and could really use his presence to keep Eli Manning protected in the pocket.
Beatty has shown flashes of greatness, which helped him to attain the starting left tackle spot for the 2011 season. Now, he needs to continue to improve at the position and manage to avoid injuries in order to keep a stranglehold on that spot.
The Giants, a franchise who enjoys continuity, would love nothing more than for that to work itself out.
Fortunately, a full offseason should enable each of these men to hone their craft as they prepare for another great NFL season with the Giants. The Giants are a franchise that have shown great ability in progressing their young players into elite players on the gridiron, and each of these men have the opportunity to continue that tradition under head coach Tom Coughlin.