The World Champion New York Giants. That just feels good to say, doesn't it, Giants fans?
Right—now that that is out of the way, it's time to start shifting focus away from last year's accomplishments and to start looking forward to what the 2012 season has in store. The Giants kick off training camp in Albany on July 27th, and there are plenty of storylines that bear watching throughout camp and preseason games.
Obviously, all eyes will be on the receiving corps as the team deals with both the departure of Mario Manningham in free agency as well as the broken bone in Hakeem Nicks' foot. From drafting Rueben Randle to getting Domenik Hixon back off injured reserve, the Giants are in good position to deal with this.
Of course, another way the Giants can deal with an evolving receiving corps is by shifting their emphasis to the running game, which averaged a paltry 3.5 yards per attempt in what was one of the few disappointing aspects of their 2011 season.
First-round pick David Wilson should provide some help; he's explosive between the tackles and should be able to create mismatches out in space when catching passes out of the backfield.
Naturally, getting some better play out of the offensive line would go a long way to fixing what ailed the rushing attack. There is a lot to sort out here—things that just couldn't be in OTAs and minicamp. To get better line play, you need to hit—that's what training camp is for—and you can bet Tom Coughlin will drive this group hard early this year.
Switching to the defensive side of the ball, there are things to look at for each personnel level.
On the defensive line, don't discount the acquisition of Shaun Rogers. The veteran defensive tackle played much better last year than people give him credit for and will help keep guys like Chris Canty and Linval Joseph fresh into the fourth quarter. Of course, Rogers has always battled his own stamina issues and will probably only be used for 12 to 15 snaps per game. It will be worth watching how the defensive staff uses him early on in the preseason.
As for the linebacking corps, another veteran who was brought in, Keith Rivers, will compete for the middle linebacker spot, though I think the Giants would do well to leave him on the weak side of their 4-3 defense.
However it shakes out, the competition for spots in the rotation will be one of the highlights of camp.
And finally, all eyes will be on the return of Terrell Thomas at cornerback opposite Corey Webster. Thomas missed all of 2011 and will need to show the coaching staff that he is ready to assume his place on the outside. If Prince Amukamara shows some signs of progressing, there may even be a camp battle that springs to life in the secondary.
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