New York Giants: 10 Players with Something to Prove This Offseason
Football's in the air, and although the Rangers, Yankees and Mets are up and running, Giants nation is already getting rowdily vocal in New York.
The defending champs vastly exceeded expectations last year, but there's still a handful of G-Men with chips on their shoulder for 2012.
Will the offensive line make necessary adjustments? Who will step up in the secondary? And will the Osi Umenyiora saga ever see closure?
Here's a look at 10 Giants with something to prove in training camp.
David Wilson, RB
Although he has yet to see a single professional snap, first-round draftee David Wilson has some big (Brandon Jacobs big, to be specific) shoes to fill. Wilson will be expected to make an immediate impact in the backfield alongside Ahmad Bradshaw.
The Giants were a paltry 32nd in the league in total rushing last year, and the pressure will be on Wilson to turn things around and open up the offense for Eli Manning and the passing game.
Wilson averaged nearly six yards a carry in 2011 and hit the end zone 10 times. But he'll have to validate his first-round selection with an impressive training camp.
Rueben Randle, WR
With gaping holes along the offensive line and a questionable linebacking core, many fans were shocked to see Jerry Reese snag wideout Rueben Randle in the second round.
Randle will not only have to justify his selection, but he'll be vying for the second receiver position, with Victor Cruz remaining in the slot in 2012.
Luckily for Randle, his supporting cast in Cruz and Hakeem Nicks certainly alleviate a bit of the pressure. But, whether fair or not, eyes will be pinned to the former LSU Tiger in search of a new Cruz or a Mario Manningham replacement.
Martellus Bennett, TE
The Giants are tight end deficient, and Martellus Bennett, arguably the team's signature signing this offseason, is expected to step up and bring the position back to prominence.
NFC defensive coordinators shutter at the thought of Eli Manning having a strengthened arsenal. But if Bennett can aid the run-blocking effort and catch a few passes on mid-routes, watch out.
Ultimately, Bennett's statistics from his Dallas days aren't eye-popping, so he'll have to justify the payday he struck this offseason.
Will Beatty, OT
Will Beatty had his moments at left tackle last year but was painfully inconsistent and ultimately was a contributing factor in the Giants' stagnant outside running game.
If Eli Manning is to have another successful season, he'll need protection along the edge. Thus far, New York has been surprisingly quiet in pursuing free-agent linemen, and faith in Beatty will only be justified by a solid spring and summer on his end.
David Baas, C
Baas, New York's $27.5 million man in the middle, had a rough debut in the Big Apple.
Appearing in just 11 games and failing to provide a boost to the interior ground game, Baas restructured his contract in March and enters 2012 with tempered expectations.
With just undrafted free-agent Jim Cordle behind him on the depth chart, this is a make-or-break year for Baas. He'll need to earn the confidence of teammates and fans alike this training camp.
Osi Umenyiora, DE
Perpetually in the spotlight, stud pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora doesn't have much to prove on the field. He's already a perennial Pro Bowler and consistently tallies double-digit sack counts.
If Osi even takes the field for the Giants this year, he'll have to prove that he's worth the controversy he brings.
A trade, or at bare minimum, a holdout, is seeming increasingly likely here. But regardless of where he ends up, Umenyiora has to back up the big game he's been talking and prove that he can be a serviceable teammate in the locker room.
Keith Rivers, OLB
Former first-rounder Keith Rivers was another marquee addition for New York this spring. Rivers shows immense upside, as his expected level of raw talent vastly exceeds the fifth-round draft pick Big Blue shipped to Cincinnati for him.
Rivers was sidelined in 2011 after notching 51 tackles in 2010. Thus far, the former USC Trojan has been a bit of a bust, and he'll need to prove his game hasn't lost a step since his surgery.
The Giants were a subpar run defense last season, and it's up to Rivers and the rest of the backers to turn that around in 2012.
Prince Amukamara, CB
"Muk" didn't transition to the pro level as smoothly as expected.
New York's 2011 first-round pick came in at 145th in win probability for all eligible corners, far from first-round material. As the nickelback in an unproven secondary this year, he'll be relied upon for an improved sophomore season.
Terrell Thomas, CB
There's no need to rehash the tough luck that hit hard-nosed corner Terrell Thomas in last year's preseason.
Thomas will need to justify the primetime contract he received this offseason. As the team's de jure leader in the secondary, his presence was sorely missed, and he will be called upon to provide hard-hitting, inspiring performances this year.
Thomas needs to prove that he's still at top form following surgery. He'll also need to prove that he's better suited for the No. 1 corner spot than Corey Webster, although it's likely that the two will alternate based on defensive formation.
Jerrel Jernigan, KR/WR
Big Blue's return game has been downright putrid in recent years. Jerrel Jernigan will likely be the one expected to change that in 2012.
Jernigan lacked upfield burst last season, and he'll need a strong training camp to win the return man responsibilities. Jernigan will also be competing for a role in the receiving core.
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