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Wide Recievers and Defensive Coordinator Key To Giants' Playbook Success

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 26:  Eli Manning #10 and Kevin Gilbride, offensive coordinator of the New York Giants talk during a timeout against the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 26, 2008 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Allison GrandeContributor IMay 29, 2009

The biggest player changes for the Giants this off-season were on the offensive end; the biggest personnel shift came on the defensive end. How the Giants' playbook adjusts to these moves will determine how well the team does this season.

For the first time since joining the Giants in 2004, Eli Manning will not have the options of Jeremy Shockey, Tiki Barber, Plaxico Burress or the still unsigned Amani Toomer at the wide reciever position. These players, proven stars that Manning inherited as a rookie quarterback, will be replaced by a mainly untested, inexperienced bunch of wide receivers.

The most touted, and the one who is most expected to fill the hole left by the departure of Burress, is Hakeem Nicks, a 21-year-old North Carolina graduate drafted in the first round by the Giants in the 2009 draft. Getting back David Tyree, who hasn't made a catch since the infamous Super Bowl XLII reception, from a knee injury will be key to giving Manning another option on offense.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who has been at the realm since 2007, will have the challenge of meshing the new talent into the offensive fold while pushing Manning to take a more forecful role as a playmaker. But with the superstars and their egos gone, Gilbride should be able to use his quarter century of coaching experience to craft a more cohesive, spread open offense that will bring the Giants back to the basics that helped them be successful in early 2008.

On the defensive end, new coordinator Bill Sheridan should benefit from the team's off-season move to sign free agent defensive end Chris Canty. How Sheridan manages his new position, which he said he will do from the box on game days, as well as how well he gets along with Jim Herrmann, his replacement as linebackers coach, will be key to the defensive success.

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