With the 2009 football preseason slowly approaching, there are a lot of expectations and holes that the New York Giants will be looking to fulfill and close. It's for certain that players and fans alike have not gotten over the 20-11 divisional playoffs loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last season. In a season where the motto "Super Bowl or bust" seemed to be the running theme, the Giants approach 2009 with a mindset of "unfinished business."
And while there is unfinished business to tend to, the Giants know they have some doubters around the league. For starters, there is the loss of wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who was released a few months back after countless off-the-field distractions. Even with Burress' distractions, he proved to be quarterback Eli Manning's favorite target and big play performer. Replacing Burress won't be easy, and opposing teams in the NFC East know it.
As it stands now, the Giants will go into 2009 with both their main receivers no longer wearing a big blue uniform. Aside from Burress, veteran Amani Toomer will not be back after a career that saw him help the Giants make it to two Super Bowls. The departure of both players puts more pressure on receivers Steve Smith and Super Bowl hero of two years ago, David Tyree, to step up and make plays. Smith and Tyree have the most significant experience of the receivers on the Giants roster. Veteran Sinorice Moss can also see an expanded role this year.
Even with the receiver position leaving a question mark, the Giants should still be the favorite in the NFC East. They still have big pieces at the running back position to get the ball in the end zone. The duo of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw should still pack a punch for opposing defensive lines. Last year, they helped led the Giants to an NFL-leading 157 rushing yards a game.
Defensively, they should pick up where they left of or be even better, with defensive end Usi Umenyiora back on board after missing all of last season with a knee injury. Umenyiora will look to get back to his old ways of two seasons ago, when he was one of the NFL's best defensive ends. He returns to a defense that only allowed 292 yards a game.