New York Giants: 5 Players Who Can Expect Larger Roles in 2013
A Super Bowl triumph fittingly put the New York Giants at the pinnacle of the sport's world in February of 2012. It also left their roster susceptible to pillaging from 31 other franchises hungry to capture and replicate their success.
The departures of Mario Manningham, Aaron Ross and Brandon Jacobs following Super Bowl XLVI, opened the door for a new wave of unproven talent to step up for the Giants in 2012.
Several young players performed well in prominent roles for Tom Coughlin. Others waited for an opportunity that never came. With a wide spectrum of young players at different points in their careers, the Giants have good reason to be optimistic.
Free agency will inevitably bring more changes to the Giants' roster. Here's a glance at who will continue to step up for New York, and who will finally get a chance to seize their opportunity.
LB Jacquian Williams
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As a rookie, Jacquian Williams was an integral part of New York's defense. Regarded as a raw neophyte, Williams surprisingly recorded 78 tackles in 2011 and displayed strong coverage skills. After battling injuries in 2012, however, this speedy linebacker will be looking to make a comeback for Big Blue.
Week after week, opposing running backs moved through the Giants' second level like a hot knife through butter. New York's lack of resistance against the run in 2012 allowed offenses to sustain long drives in key moments of games.
The Giants are in desperate need of speed at linebacker. Colin Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson figure to have long careers as scramblers in the NFL, augmenting the importance of Williams' return to the fold.
In a league filled with dual-threat quarterbacks and tight ends causing matchup nightmares, Williams will be asked to answer the bell next season.
WR Rueben Randle
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Rueben Randle had a pedestrian 19 catches for 298 yards in 2012. If the LSU rookie's Week 17 performance is any indication, an improvement could be on the horizon.
In New York's final game of the season, Randle caught two touchdown passes in the first quarter alone.
Mario Manningham's development as a Giant could be the blueprint to success for Randle, who dawns the same number as his predecessor. Manningham caught four passes as a rookie in 2008. In his second year, the former Michigan wideout had 57 receptions.
While nobody is forecasting Randle to experience an improvement of that magnitude, the Giants will find ways to expand his role. Randle can stretch the field vertically and is very sharp in his routes.
Much of New York's success relies on the development of a reliable third wide receiver. Expect big things from Randle in 2013.
DT Marvin Austin
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Marvin Austin's third year in the NFL will be a decisive one. After spending two years in relative obscurity, the Giants will finally discover if their former second-round pick is worth his salt.
As cliche as it sounds, Austin truly controls his own fate in 2013. With Rocky Bernard likely on his way out of town, the Giants have an opening in their rotation at defensive tackle.
Despite the fact that Marvin Austin has yet to make his mark on this team, New York's front office has remained patient.
There is limited downside in finding out if Austin can be a disruptive force on the defensive line. Linval Joseph and Chris Canty are proven talent and can take on larger roles if the former Tar Heel does not pan out.
DE Adewale Ojomo
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Adewale Ojomo may be asked to fill some big shoes next year. As an undrafted free agent, Ojomo tallied four sacks last preseason, which earned him a spot on the Giants' roster.
There is a growing sentiment that New York's defensive line could be in for a major overhaul this offseason.
The talented core of experienced players ahead of Adewale Ojomo made it nearly impossible to crack the pass-rushing rotation. Ojomo was active for just one contest in 2012.
With Osi Umenyiora's departure looming, the Giants could look internally for reinforcements. It's preposterous to surmise that a player as green as Ojomo will perform at Umenyiora's level. A steady dose of snaps, however, could help this player become something special.
RB Andre Brown
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Regardless of what the future holds for Ahmad Bradshaw, this battering ram will be fed the ball next season. Before breaking his leg in 2012, Andre Brown averaged 5.3 YPC and found paydirt eight times.
In a time when running backs can often be overlooked, Brown's imposing style made plenty of people around the league take notice.
Of course, much more is asked of running backs than merely carrying the football. Andre Brown's time on the field will also be designated based on his ability to protect Eli Manning.
The Giants simply cannot expect the rushing attack to thrive on the hobbled feet of Ahmad Bradshaw in 2013. Moving forward, the contrasting styles of Andre Brown and David Wilson will form a dynamic pair in New York's backfield.