Winners and Losers of NY Giants' Offseason so Far
As the New York Giants offseason heads to the finish line—the team will end its spring activities with a mandatory three-day minicamp running Tuesday through Thursday—it's time to pick some of the team's winners and losers from the offseason.
Before reading my picks, let me explain what went into my thought process for each category.
A winner, quite simply, is someone who has had a solid spring. While a solid spring doesn’t necessarily guarantee the player will be the next Pro Bowler at his position, it's a foundation that, if the player build on it during camp and the preseason, can be a big boost to the team.
A “loser” doesn’t necessarily mean that I think the player isn’t worthy of a roster spot.
Rather, those I designated as “losers” I did so because of circumstances—an injury that cost them valuable practice time or a poor showing in the OTAs that could potentially put the player behind the eight ball when the team reports back to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on July 21 for the start of training camp.
Now that you have an idea of what criteria I’m using to designate “winners” and “losers” of the offseason, let’s get to it.
All quotes and information obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted.
Winner: Quarterback Ryan Nassib
No, Nassib hasn’t looked good throwing the ball, which is the quarterback’s job—he’s had at least six interceptions in the OTA practices that the media has been allowed to watch.
However, not all of the interceptions are his doing, as there have been tipped passes and receivers not running the correct routes.
What Nassib has done is take command of the offense. He's looked far more comfortable and less deliberate when he's had his turn than I remember from last year.
However, it needs to be said that when there isn’t the threat of a defender about to come crashing down on you, it’s a much different scenario than it is in a live game where you don't have as much time to think.
Nassib, who has held onto the No. 2 spot behind starter Eli Manning, has had his hiccups. However, head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters that he’s been pleased with the second year man’s progress.
“He’s worked hard. He’s worked very hard,” Coughlin said about Nassib a couple of weeks ago. “He studied hard and he can direct traffic out here. We just need to get the execution where we need it to be.”
Loser: Receiver Mario Manningham
It’s been a rough two years for receiver Mario Manningham, who hoped to find gold out on the West Coast with the 49ers after finishing his first contract with the Giants after the 2011 season.
Instead, Manningham suffered a serious knee injury toward the end of the 2012 season and ended up missing most of the following year.
He signed a one-year deal with the Giants in March, hoping to revive his career. However, his surgically repaired knee continues to give the hero of Super Bowl XLVI trouble to the point where he’s not only missed the entire spring, he’s potentially looking at starting training camp on the PUP list.
Manningham’s continued absence could open the door for Jerrel Jernigan and Trindon Holliday to round out a receiving corps that is expected to include Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr.
Winner: Cornerback Charles James
The Giants’ training camp roster currently lists 10 candidates at cornerback for what will probably be five openings.
Barring injury, four of the 2014 cornerbacks will be Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride.
The fifth cornerback? Realistically that will probably come down to 2014 sixth-round pick Bennett Jackson, free agent Zack Bowman and second-year man Charles James. (Jayron Hosley is due to serve a four-game suspension and will not make the final cut because of that.)
James has certainly done what he can this spring to convince the coaches that he’s worthy of increased snaps in training camp. By my unofficial estimation, he leads the defense in interceptions, at least based on the OTA practices the media's been allowed to see.
However, if James is going to make this roster, he’s going to have to be a contributor on special teams. Last year, he tried to fill in as the punt returner, but his lone opportunity went for zero yards.
A decision on James will probably come down to the final cuts. Will he be among the last men standing? So far, he's given himself an advantage, but in the summer, the competition gets taken to a whole new level.
Loser: Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr.
A nagging hamstring strain has caused receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., the Giants’ first-round pick, to miss at least one week of OTAs.
While it’s understandable that the Giants want to be cautious with the rookie, the fact remains that he’s missing valuable practice time and a chance to get on the same page with quarterback Eli Manning, with whom he hasn’t worked before.
Beckham told reporters last week that he’s feeling better and that he hoped to be back for this week's minicamp.
It will be interesting to see if the training staff continues to hold him out for the rest of the spring and if all the missed practice time results in a slow start during training camp.
Winner: Quarterback Eli Manning
Per general manager Jerry Reese, quarterback Eli Manning wasn’t supposed to do anything this spring after having ankle surgery in April.
With a new offense about to be installed, Manning wasn't going to take time to baby himself. He worked himself back to be able to do everything he needs to do and has been a constant presence at the OTAs.
“I always want to be out there. I think this year, yeah, having a new offense made me want to be out with the team, out running plays,” he told reporters last month.
“It’s one thing to watch it from the sideline and think you know it spot-on, but sometimes you’ve got to be right there at the line of scrimmage and have to make important calls and changes and checks and reads. I think it’s very important for me to be out there and I wanted to be out there as soon as possible to get going for this offense.”
While the offense has had its share of hiccups this spring, it’s better to get those ironed out now with the personnel that’s ultimately going to be running the offense, beginning with the starting quarterback.
Loser: Cornerback Jayron Hosley
It's never a good idea when you're on the bubble to draw a suspension.
Yet that's exactly what cornerback Jayron Hosley, the Giants' 2013 third-round pick whom they hoped would develop into a quality nickel back, has done.
Unlike former safety Will Hill, who got three chances because he was able to show that he belonged on an NFL field, Hosley has had trouble staying on the field. He's played in just 23 games in two seasons, posting 49 tackles, dealing with a nagging hamstring injury in both his rookie season and last year.
With the Giants having loaded up on cornerbacks, Hosley is likely to find out what happens to guys whom the team can’t count on.