Winners and Losers from Week 2 of New York Giants' Training Camp
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At the start of this week, the New York Giants had just nine training camp practices remaining.
"Can you imagine that? It's ridiculous."
That was head coach Tom Coughlin's reaction to the rapidly approaching end of camp, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York. Luckily for Coughlin and his staff, the Giants still have three preseason games left on the slate.
Some Giants are on the upswing, while others have hit a road bump—everyone will try to end camp on a strong note. This slideshow will highlight the winners and losers of the past week of training camp.
Loser: S Antrel Rolle
S Antrel Rolle suffered an ankle injury.
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The Giants suffered their biggest training camp scare on Monday when safety Antrel Rolle was carted off the field with an ankle injury. Rolle underwent an MRI on Monday evening, according to Ralph Vacchiano of the Daily News; the severity of the injury is currently described as "a pretty good sprain," but Rolle vows to be ready for the regular-season opener.
The injury occurred, according to Vacchiano, on a jump ball in which he and tight end Bear Pascoe "landed awkwardly" atop each other's feet. Rolle will certainly miss some time, perhaps the remainder of the preseason. He is a defender that the Giants absolutely need on the field during the regular season.
Rolle is a two-time Pro Bowler, and he has started all 16 games at free safety in each of his three seasons with the Giants (2010-2012). With five interceptions and 13 pass defenses in the past three seasons, Rolle will make an occasional play on the ball, but his true value lies within his tackling ability. He was the Giants' leading tacklers in both 2011 and 2012.
Winner: S Tyler Sash
S Tyler Sash has made a few impact plays.
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Although former Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Mundy projects to be Rolle's immediate replacement, third-year safety Tyler Sash is quickly gaining ground. First noticed for his luxuriant facial hair, Sash is now capturing the eyes of the coaching staff for his play on the field.
Sash was one of the flashiest defensive players in the Giants' preseason win over the Steelers. He recorded four tackles (all solo, two for a loss) and added a pass defense. He helped the Giants gain their first points of the second half by tackling Pittsburgh's Landry Jones in the end zone for a safety. Later in the third quarter, Sash recovered a muffed punt, setting up a 38-yard field-goal attempt, which Josh Brown hooked wide left.
In his first two seasons, Sash has seen limited action on defense, but he regularly makes an impact on special teams. The former sixth-rounder has his sights set on a Pro Bowl bid, and he is taking the proper steps to reach that level.
Loser: RB Andre Brown
RB Andre Brown had a costly fumble.
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No one seems to care that Andre Brown showcased the highest yards-per-carry average (5.8) and the most effective blocking ability of any Giants running back in the team's preseason debut. Instead, the focus has squarely been on his second-quarter fumble, which was the result of a poorly handled pitch-out from backup quarterback David Carr.
The day after the game, Brown said he was preparing for a week in head coach Tom Coughlin's fabled "doghouse," via Newsday. On Monday, Coughlin admitted that the fumble "concerns" him, according to ESPN.com. Coughlin is known to hold a grudge against a player that does not properly secure the ball, as was the case with David Wilson in 2012.
Still, the fumble is nothing monumental for Brown to overcome. With longtime Giant Ahmad Bradshaw out of the picture, Brown is now the most reliable back on the depth chart. In 75 regular-season touches, Brown has not coughed the ball up once.
Winner: RB Michael Cox
RB Michael Cox is gunning for a roster spot.
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The Giants have an interesting competition brewing for the third running back spot. Third-year back Da'Rel Scott and former Washington Redskin Ryan Torain were the early favorites to win the job, but rookie Michael Cox is coming on strong as of late.
Cox led all Giants running backs with 33 yards on the ground against the Steelers. He displayed a powerful downhill running style, which led Dave Hutchinson of The Star-Ledger to claim that Cox had "fired the first salvo" in the competition with Scott and Torain. Hutchinson has also used the words "explosive" and "dazzling" to describe Cox's ability.
As a seventh-rounder, Cox faces an uphill climb to make the active roster. And if he plans on contributing this year, the slope will only grow steeper. The UMass product needs to prove that he can be more than just a tough runner; he must excel in other aspects of the game, as well. Right now, however, it appears as if he's leading the charge.
Loser: The Linebackers
The starting cast of LBs were lackluster.
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The Giants are without an impact linebacker. It's no secret. Of the current starting cast—which features Mark Herzlich in the middle and Keith Rivers (strong) and Spencer Paysinger (weak) on the outsides—not one player has more than six starts in a Giants uniform under his belt.
Coughlin said the unit, as a whole, was "steady" against the Steelers, but there wasn't "one particular individual that made enough plays" for him to label a standout, according to the Daily News. Lacking a playmaker, the Giants' linebackers are drawing criticism from fans, and Bleacher Report's own Ted Vouyiouklakis believes they have "big questions to address."
In the past, the Giants have found ways to win without stellar athletes at linebacker. This season is different, however, as New York's pass rush and secondary are no longer locks to cover up a deficiency at the second level. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will leave no rock unturned as he searches for an effective mix.
Winner: The Syracuse Rookies
QB Ryan Nassib showed poise against Pittsburgh.
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Former college teammates at Syracuse, offensive lineman Justin Pugh and quarterback Ryan Nassib, can both consider themselves winners. Pugh, a first-round selection, returned to practice on Monday after suffering a concussion on Aug. 1, and Nassib, a fourth-round selection, received some unexpected praise.
The time off has certainly set Pugh back in the race for the starting right tackle spot, but the versatile blocker got some work at left tackle on his first day back, and Coughlin said Pugh "seemed to have no issues," according to ESPN New York. Although he is only a rookie, Pugh could end up being a very valuable asset, even as a backup.
Nassib himself classified his NFL debut as a "rough start," via Newsday, but maybe it was not as bad as he originally pictured it—at least offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride seems to think so. Gilbride said Nassib, who completed just one of four attempts and was sacked twice, played "pretty well," according to The Star-Ledger. He even insinuated that Nassib could eventually take the backup role from David Carr.