For the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants have had a relatively quiet training camp thus far.
Blaine Gabbert and the Jacksonville Jaguars are first on the slate for New York in the preseason. And as much as the team likes to understate the significance of meaningless matches, multiple positions on the starting roster could be determined with standout performances.
Coach Tom Coughlin would likely want it that way, claiming that the Giants should have no sense of entitlement to their name. Despite having won two of the last five Super Bowl trophies, the 65-year-old Syracuse graduate would like his team to stay humble heading into 2012.
Here is my opinion on some of the latest news and buzz out of Giants training camp.
For Giants fans, there are surprisingly a few areas for concern heading into the 2012 season.
While a Super Bowl trophy certainly suffices through the spring, the early months of winter tend to bring entirely new expectations in New York.
Heading into the first preseason game of the year, questions still remain about the tight end, left tackle and running back positions.
The days of Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss catching passes from Eli Manning are over. But perhaps the Giants' front office wishes otherwise. With less than one month until the season opener against Dallas, New York's first option at tight end will be Bear Pascoe.
Oftentimes, fans tend to underestimate the importance that a solid tight end has to an offense. Shockey and Boss both performed in New York and showed fans how valuable a reliable receiver can be to a relatively inconsistent passing game. Now, they're with other teams, and the Giants hope someone from within can step up. Especially given the Giants' lack of depth at WR.
Another area for concern can be found at the running back position. With Brandon Jacobs now on the west coast, Ahmad Bradshaw will likely see a bulk of the carries early on.
But in the modern NFL, everyone knows that you need more than one guy taking handoffs from the quarterback.
I think the likeliest candidate to claim the second-string running back position is the rookie tailback out of Virginia Tech. David Wilson, the Giants' recent first-round draft pick, is competing with D.J. Ware and Da'Rel Scott to back up Bradshaw in New York's backfield.
But the Giants' uncertainties extend beyond the running back position. Will Beatty comes into camp as the frontrunner for the left tackle position. However, a rather serious eye injury forced him to miss the last six games of the 2011 season and left New York with little consistency on the front line.
Reportedly, Beatty did show up to camp a bit lighter this season, showing signs that he is ready to step up and take the starting job. But if the Giants are going to have any success in a competitive NFC East, they must be able to run the ball to both sides.
Despite claiming their second ring in five seasons, the New York Giants aren't entirely satisfied with their 2011 season.
A year that started out 7-7 and concluded with a six-game winning streak showed the Giants organization and their fans how an imperfect team can put it together in time for the playoffs.
But nearly six months removed from the Super Bowl, an avoidance of complacency has been a theme throughout Giants training camp, and coach Tom Coughlin likes to contend that his team hasn't won anything yet.
Instead of focusing on the strong points, Coughlin likes to highlight the team's weaknesses in an effort to improve.
For instance, the G-men finished last season with the worst rushing attack in the NFL. And while a late-season push may have proved successful, there are certainly no guarantees in 2012.
With Brandon Jacobs in San Francisco, there should be less confusion as to who will be getting a majority of the carries in the early going. Look for Ahmad Bradshaw to step up as the Giants' main option out of the backfield and compile a solid statistical season.
Another area for improvement can be found in a defense that finished 27th overall in 2011. Though defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul did have a breakout year, the rest of the Giants defense struggled to keep the football in front of them.
It took seven fourth-quarter comebacks for the Giants to slip into the playoffs last season. And with so much reliance upon Eli Manning, a more consistent defense could make some of the wins a lot easier in New York.
It is truly tough to believe that even after winning his second Super Bowl MVP in five seasons, Eli Manning is the third most talked-about quarterback in the state of New York.
But maybe he likes it that way.
With all of the media attention directed toward Tebowmania in New Jersey, the Giants training camp has been relatively quiet for a team coming off a championship run. And for a quarterback with two rings to his name, Eli Manning is unquestionably under-appreciated.
The humble man out of Ole Miss claims to enjoy the lack of attention coming his way, and who can blame him? With 20 player scuffles breaking out beneath Rex Ryan's nose, you can't say you'd rather be playing for the Jets right now.
Regardless of the situation, Eli and company are right where they want to be. Just the way they entered the playoffs last year, New York should begin the 2012 campaign flying under the radar.
Recent comments by NFL commentator Phil Simms regarding Eli Manning's Hall of Fame credibility caused a brief national conversation. But when asked about the team's strong points, chances are Manning will point to his defensive line.
Now Eli may have a few solid seasons separating himself from Canton, Ohio. But if his first eight seasons are any indication of how Manning will play in his next few years under center, I don't think Archie will have any reason for worry.
With two Hall of Fame quarterbacks as sons, how could you?