New York Giants: 3 Early Winners and Losers of Giants Offseason
It's been an interesting offseason so far for the New York Giants.
We've seen a solid draft, which included the selection of David Wilson and Rueben Randle, as well as the offseason acquisition of Martellus Bennett, Shaun Rogers and Keith Rivers.
Having said that, we've also seen some injuries, including a fractured foot sustained by Hakeem Nicks that has put the beginning of his season in jeopardy.
With OTAs underway, it's time to take a look at who the winners and losers are of the offseason so far.
Winner: Rueben Randle
The departure of Mario Manningham has presumably opened up a big door for rookie Rueben Randle.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin has said that Randle's body position could use some work, but he seems to be impressed with the receiver as a whole (via ESPN): "Randle’s demonstrated not only does he have a pretty good understanding of what we’re trying to do, but he’s put himself in position where’s he made plays."
With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks already anchoring the wideout position, New York is looking for a third receiver, and it looks like Randle is learning to handle that position:
My whole goal right now is to learn all the wide receiver positions, because it’s a game of injuries. When Hakeem [Nicks] went down, it opened up another spot for someone else to go in. So I’m trying to learn all the spots, so when the season comes, they’ll be able to throw me in at the X or the Z or whatever position it may be, [and] I’ll be able to step in.
With Nicks out for now, Randle should see more reps this summer, which will only help him once the regular season starts.
Loser: Hakeem Nicks
I say Hakeem Nicks is a loser this offseason based solely on his injury.
Nicks was forced to have surgery after suffering a broken toe during OTAs, and was given a 12-week recovery timetable, which is something he hopes to beat.
Nicks' teammate Prince Amukamara missed the first nine games of the season last year when he sustained a similar injury in August.
However, Nicks remains optimistic. He said: "The doctor said he had people come back as early as four weeks, six weeks to eight weeks. My goal is always to come back early. We just don't want any setbacks."
Either way, Nicks will miss an entire summer's worth of workouts and risks being out of shape and out of sync come September.
Winner: Osi Umenyiora
It's comforting to know that Osi Umenyiora will be getting after opposing QBs this season alongside Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, now that he has finally received his raise.
In the end, Umenyiora said he realized he'd be wise to stay in New York, making him a winner (via ESPN):
It really wasn't worth for me to go somewhere else. This is my 10th year here and I have had a great time here and I want it to continue and I feel like something special is being built over here and I just much rather be here than continue to fight and face all the negativity and criticism over really what amounted to be nothing.
Not only is it exciting to hear that Osi will be back in blue next season, but it almost sounds as if he's matured through this situation. This much was evident when he spoke about the Giants' brass:
If I was them I'd do the same thing. I mean obviously you have Tuck, who's the face of the franchise and you have JPP who's a young phenom. I'm still a very good football player but you can't pay us all that kind of money. You're gonna hamstring your franchise so I would make the exact same decisions if I was them, no question.
Regardless, No. 72 remaining in New York is not only a win for him, but a win for the Giants organization as a whole.
Loser: Will Beatty
Will Beatty's back injury is not helping him this offseason.
Per ESPN's Kieran Darcy:
In terms of the offensive line, Gilbride continues to be concerned -- particularly because Will Beatty, slated to be the team's starting left tackle next season, has also been very limited because of a bad back.
We need him. He has got to be there. We have lost to what amounts to three starters in the last two years on the offensive line. You can’t keep doing that and not be effective. And so that is counting him as a starter – if you lose him that means four starters in the offensive line. Then it doesn’t matter how good your quarterback is. It doesn’t matter how good your receivers are. It doesn’t matter the explosiveness. Those guys enable our skill guys to play. So, yeah, I’ll be very concerned if he can’t play.
The Giants offensive line was dismal in 2011, paving the way for the least amount of rushing yards per game in the NFL at 89.2.
New York needs Beatty to get healthy in order to anchor their offensive line, which they are looking to improve on for the upcoming season.
Winner: Chase Blackburn
As of right now, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has said that Chase Blackburn is the starting middle linebacker for Big Blue this season (via ESPN):
I can’t say he will stay there permanently, but right now Chase is our guy and no one has clearly beaten him out for the position. Chase has some distinct advantages over some of the other guys. He probably knows as much about our defense and how to make the calls and run our defense as any of those linebackers with exception of Michael Boley right now.
I recently predicted that Blackburn will be an unheralded star for the G-Men in 2012. Judging by what Fewell is saying, I'm feeling pretty good about that assessment.
He came up big for New York towards the end of the 2011 season and into the playoffs. Furthermore, he clearly has the respect and trust of his defensive coordinator, which makes Blackburn an offseason winner in my book.
Loser: Brian Witherspoon
It's been an unfortunate career so far for Brian Witherspoon, to say the least.
The 27-year-old cornerback has had some tough luck so far in his early career, as he barely received any playing time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 and 2009, and has since caught the injury bug.
At such a young age, I'm sure there's a team that will take a shot on the young DB in 2013 if he appears healthy, but for now, it doesn't look like it's going to be the G-Men.
Tough break, kid.
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