4 New York Giants Who Could Lose Ground in 2012
What's amazing about the New York Giants' 2011 Super Bowl victory is that they accomplished the unexpected feat despite the fact that several of their top veteran players experienced drop-offs in production.
Injuries obviously played an enormous role, but guys like Ahmad Bradshaw, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Chris Snee saw either their numbers or their play (or both) decline in 2011.
Let's attempt to predict which players might either continue to—or begin to—lose ground in 2012.
This is all about the injury. Hakeem Nicks hasn't exactly been sturdy early in his career, and now he's dealing with a serious foot injury.
The 24-year-old broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot in May, which should give him enough time to return before the start of the season. That's the good news.
The bad news is, there's no guarantee he'll be back in that time frame and these types of injuries can linger and lead to re-aggravation.
Nicks is a remarkable receiver who produces consistently when in the lineup, so I'm by no means predicting that his career is about to take a turn downward. That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see him struggle in 2012.
Al Bello/Getty Images
It was difficult to choose between the big three defensive ends, but ultimately I'm going with Justin Tuck over Osi Umenyiora because I believe Umenyiora will have a fire light under him in what is essentially a contract year.
Tuck's a full year young than Osi, but he's been less consistent on the field. And with Jason Pierre-Paul only getting better, there probably aren't enough sacks to go around for all three top-tier pass-rushers.
I believe that both Tuck and Umenyiora have probably seen their best days, and the evidence indicates that there's a good chance at least one of them misses more time in 2012. Neither will disappear from the face of the planet, but if one defensive end is about to lose some ground, it's easy to imagine Tuck being that guy.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Chris Snee is 30 now, and he's really the only lineman left over from the 2007 Super Bowl team who hasn't experienced a large drop-off in production thus far.
But he's no longer than player he was earlier in his career when he earned three consecutive All-Pro honors and anchored a superb running game as one of the most dominant guards in football.
I didn't expect him to single-handedly save Ahmad Bradshaw from the shipwreck that was 2011, but elite guards can do a hell of a lot more than Snee did. He might benefit this year from more stability elsewhere on the offensive line, but he also might suffer from the wrath of Father Time.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Can Michael Boley stay healthy this year? He hasn't been able to in two of the last three years, but strong performances when he was in the lineup and a lack of quality depth behind him meant he was a fixture no matter what.
But the seven-year veteran will be 30 before the season starts, and he did struggle a little more in 2011 than he did in 2010. By no means is he over the hill, but the leash could be shorter if Boley gets hurt again—especially considering the talent that has emerged in the Giants' linebacker corps.
One caveat here: if the Giants move him to middle linebacker, he might actually be better than ever in 2012.