6 Early Winners and Losers of the New York Giants' Offseason
OTAs may have ended for the New York Giants, but there were plenty of players who left their mark on the field—both good and bad.
The G-Men had a solid 2013 NFL draft and made a bunch of moves in free agency to upgrade the roster, resulting in some roster shakeups heading into training camp and Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season.
Which players caught the eyes of the coaches or are on the fast track to seeing a diminished role in 2013?
Lets take a look.
Winner: Mark Herzlich
I recently listed linebacker Mark Herzlich as a member of the Giants defense that has to step up in 2013, and that's largely due to the fact that he's the favorite to win the starting middle linebacker job, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York.
Not only has Herzlich conquered cancer, but with Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley gone, it would seem that Herzlich is next in line for the starting MLB job.
Herzlich will have competition in Dan Connor and Aaron Curry, but he has the advantage of already knowing Perry Fewell's system, which I believe makes him the favorite to win the starting job.
As Charlie Sheen would say, Herzlich is certainly "winning" as of now.
Loser: David Diehl
Not only did offensive tackle David Diehl take a massive pay cut this offseason, but there's a possibility that he could also be out of a starting job.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Brian McIntyre, Diehl restructured his deal this offseason, taking a cut of $3.825 million.
Also, the drafting of Justin Pugh in the first round of the 2013 NFL draft could result in Diehl losing his job.
Dave Hutchinson of the The Star-Ledger writes that Pugh could replace the veteran Diehl along New York's offensive line. There's also a possibility that James Brewer replaces Diehl, with Pugh filling Brewer's open spot on the O-line.
Either way, it's not looking good for Diehl.
Winner: Spencer Paysinger
Spencer Paysinger has been a standout on special teams for the G-Men, and like buddy Mark Herzlich, Paysinger could see an increased role in the Giants' linebacker rotation in 2013.
At least, that's what ESPN New York's Ohm Youngmisuk tells us, as he writes that Paysinger has been impressive in camp and could be a dark-horse candidate to win one of the starting outside linebacker gigs.
The 24-year-old appeared in all 16 games for Big Blue in 2012, racking up 39 tackles and forcing two fumbles while establishing himself as a hard worker on special teams.
Even if he doesn't win the starting job, all signs point to Paysinger seeing an increased role in the Giants' defense this season.
Loser: Marvin Austin
It's been nothing but a struggle for defensive tackle Marvin Austin since he was drafted by the Giants in 2011, and this year could be his last season to prove his worth.
Aside from his lack of experience at the NFL level, Austin now has to compete with a slew of other defensive tackles in Perry Fewell's rotation. Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will likely be the starters along the defensive line, but Austin has other competition.
New York drafted Johnathan Hankins in the second round of this year's draft, signed ex-Eagles Mike Patterson and Jenkins and still have other DTs on the roster like Shaun Rogers, Markus Kuhn and Frank Okam.
With all of the offseason additions at defensive tackle, Austin has slid down the depth chart and will likely see the least amount of snaps in the rotation to start the season.
Winner: Rueben Randle
With both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks missing time at training camp this offseason—mainly due to contract-related issues—Rueben Randle has benefited immensely.
According to Giants.com writer Michael Eisen, Randle was working with the first-team offense and is showing signs of improvement at the wide receiver position. Head coach Tom Coughlin had this to say about the second-year wideout:
“He’s moving in that direction. He certainly has had many, many opportunities, and if there’s a guy that really has a chance to step his game up and really show what he can do, it’s happening right now for Rueben.”
Randle took the field in all 16 games for the G-Men in 2012 and really showed signs of improvement down the stretch, most notably in Week 17 against the rival Philadelphia Eagles when he scored two touchdowns on four receptions for 58 yards.
Even with Cruz and Nicks back, Randle will be an important member of the receiving corps, especially given Nicks' injury woes.
Loser: Victor Cruz
He's one of the most talented slot receivers in the NFL, but Victor Cruz didn't help his reputation by holding out of offseason workouts with the Giants.
It's one thing to not be happy with your contract and pursue a new deal, but it's another when you're missing practice time with your teammates and it's affecting the entire team.
While Eli Manning and Cruz already have excellent chemistry, quarterbacks and receivers use OTAs and training camps to get their timing down and make sure they're on the same page.
According to the New York Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano, Cruz has been diligently working out the entire offseason, but there's a difference between lifting weights in a gym and taking reps with your quarterback.
We'll see if this has any layover once the season starts, but Cruz certainly didn't help himself with his actions this offseason.