New York Giants: 9 Players Poised for a Breakout Campaign in 2012
Cruz took the league by storm with big play after big play, setting the franchise record for receiving yards with 1,536. Can we expect someone to make an impact like that this year?
Honestly, probably not. Guys like Cruz are once in a lifetime. However, that doesn't mean some backups or rookies will not get their chance to shine. I see plenty of opportunities to be the next Victor Cruz, or at least some moderation of him.
Here are nine players poised for breakout campaigns in 2012.
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Jerrel Jernigan was expected to contribute on special teams last year, but a terrible showing in the preseason fielding punts, dropped him down the depth chart.
With a full year under his belt with Tom Quinn and more confidence, Jernigan will have a great year returning kicks and punts for the Giants. It helps that kick returner Devin Thomas is now with the Chicago Bears.
Justin Trattou was in and out of the active lineup last year, but rarely lined up with the defense. With Dave Tollefson gone, Trattou will get an opportunity to crack the defensive end rotation.
Trattou might have to put on some weight to warrant significant snaps at the defensive end spot, but he can be a situational pass-rusher on the outside at his current weight.
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Rookies can have breakout campaigns, right? The Giants were so in love with this guy after they drafted him, I have to believe he'll be as advertised.
Randle did not get much of a chance to shine in a run-heavy offensive with questionable quarterback play. He did show off some deep-play ability and skills in the red zone.
With Cruz working so well from the slot, I would not be surprised to see Randle get a ton of snaps as a wideout.
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Tyler Sash got a chance to rep with the first team early in training camp last season. The rookie impressed his coaching staff and could see extra snaps this season.
With Deon Grant likely not coming back, Sash will need to step in and assume the third safety role in Fewell's occasional 4-2-5 defense.
I remember being impressed with Sash in the first preseason game against Carolina. He had a couple rookie mistakes, but overall looked like he knew what he was doing.
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2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara did not get a chance to show off his true ability last season. He broke his foot on the second day of training camp and sat out the first half of the season.
When he did play, he looked lost. He showed flashes, but mostly his 2011 season was marred by him getting beat on multiple plays.
With a full, real offseason under his belt and a healthy foot, Amukamara will shine.
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Here we go with another rookie. Though I do not expect Wilson to rush for 1,000 yards, I fully expect him to be a major cog in the offense.
Wilson is a change-of-pace back. He can assume a role similar to that of Tiki Barber's early in his career, who shined as a third-down back. Wilson can improve his pass-blocking, but he has good hands and is shifty in space.
The Giants' screen game immediately improves with the addition of Wilson. Don't be surprised to see Eli Manning check down to Wilson on several occasions this season.
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Given that Marvin Austin has not played a meaningful down of football since December of 2009, this is a hard guy to get a beat on.
Has he been keeping himself in shape the past couple of years? He was suspended his final collegiate season for taking benefits from an agent, but as you can see in this video, it looks like he is not the type of player to let himself go.
Watching Austin in college, the guy is absolutely explosive. If he did not have off-the-field problems, he would have been a top-15 pick in 2011.
He will compete for snaps in training camp and earn them.
Depending on how the linebacking corps shapes up, Jacquian Williams could see more playing time in 2012.
Williams was very impressive for a rookie in 2011, giving Perry Fewell trust to have him on the field in a reserve role. He also got the chance to play significant minutes in some games, such as the Week 3 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He led the Giants with 10 tackles that day.
The loss of Dave Tollefson could lead Fewell to use Mathias Kiwanuka on the line more, opening the door for Williams at the strong linebacker spot.
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The Giants went quick to work finding a replacement tight end for Jake Ballard, who tore his ACL in the Super Bowl. Who they got has potential to be a super star.
Bennett has a ton of upside and is a huge target who will be useful in the red zone. The 6'7'' former basketball player is not only a great athlete, but a terrific blocker. He was used as a run-blocker both in college and with the Dallas Cowboys, so the Giants easily improved in that area.
As long as his attitude doesn't get in the way of putting in the hard work, Bennett has Pro Bowl potential.