Who's going to step up for the New York Giants in 2012 and lead them to another Super Bowl?
We all know the usual names—Justin Tuck, Hakeem Nicks, Osi Umenyiora, Victor Cruz, et cetera—but what about some newcomers and a couple of guys who have done it for the Giants before but didn't get their due respect?
The G-Men had a solid draft and and were effective in free agency, and now boast a roster full of new faces who look poised to bring success to Big Blue in 2012.
Here they are:
The absence of Brandon Jacobs makes rookie running back David Wilson all the more important for the G-Men this season.
Starter Ahmad Bradshaw has had his share of injuries recently, including missing four games in 2011, and Wilson is arguably the Giants second best running back.
Though not a star by any means yet, Wilson will be given a legit shot to back up Bradshaw this season and should see a decent amount of carries, given the multiple-back attack the Giants are accustomed to sporting.
Wilson carried the ball 290 times during his junior year last season, accumulating 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns.
Given his potential to catch passes out of the backfield as well, Wilson will definitely be an important piece of Big Blue's offense in 2012.
Returning from an ACL injury isn't easy, but I expect Terrell Thomas to handle it just fine.
Before he went down in 2010 and missed the entire 2011 season, Thomas was arguably New York's best corner, recording 101 tackles, forcing four fumbles and totaling five interceptions.
The Giants would benefit immensely from a healthy Thomas, given the struggles that Prince Amukamara faced during his rookie campaign.
While the Giants have added help in corners like Jayron Hosley and Antwaun Molden, a healthy Thomas combined with Corey Webster looks to be solid for New York.
Chase Blackburn came up big for the Giants during their Super Bowl run last season.
And of course, Giants fans remember his interception of Tom Brady—the only turnover of Super Bowl XLVI—and his six tackles that helped New York earn their fourth championship.
Blackburn was selected by his teammates as captain of the special teams in 2010, so fans know that he has the trust of his teammates and is a hard worker.
Blackburn should be a starter along with Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka. If he can continue making big plays, Blackburn will be an important piece of the defense in 2012.
Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope believes newcomer Martellus Bennett entered camp overweight, but I'm not worried about his performance for the upcoming season.
With the recent release of TE Jake Ballard—who was claimed off of waivers by the New England Patriots—the Bennett signing becomes all the more important.
Though he never had a chance to shine due to playing behind Pro Bowler Jason Witten in Dallas, Bennett possesses tremendous upside and can be the starting tight end in New York, especially under the guidance of Pope, a statement Witten even believes to be true.
Above it all, Bennett will be receiving passes from a quarterback who knows how to get the most out of his tight ends in Eli Manning, which is just one of the reasons why Martellus Bennett will have a great season for the G-Men.
Like David Wilson, wide receiver Rueben Randle is a rookie who is expected to make some contributions to the Giants offense this season.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride believes Randle has potential and compared his play to Mario Manningham, saying:
You need that third component so that when people start skewing over and clamping down on Cruz and Nicks, you’ve got a guy who, if he gets 1-on-1, has the ability to get over the top and hurt people like Manningham did.
Randle still has a lot of work and learning to do before he's a star, but as Victor Cruz can probably tell you, playing for the Giants organization and a quarterback like Manning doesn't hurt.
I expect big things out of Randle in 2012.
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