The Giants will convene in Albany in a few weeks. Although they seemed to have tied up many of their off-season loose ends, there will always be questions that need to be asked.
1. Linebackers—what is the plan should Michael Boley be slow in recovering from hip surgery?
Boley's recovery time frame is 8-10 weeks. The clock is one week in motion on this already so if you do the math, Boley will not be on the field opening day. The Giants will most likely be forced to put Boley on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list, which will preserve a roster spot for someone else.
The reality is that he will probably need to rehab past that 8-10 weeks. We've seen baseball players make it back within the time frame but football is different. It's obviously more demanding. The thought here is that he might go from PUP to IR, meaning he's lost until week 9.
In the interim, the Giants will have to hope to get production out of either one or more from the group of Gerris Wilkerson, Bryan Kehl and Chase Blackburn.
Not the worst of scenarios, but certainly not Plan A, that's for sure.
2. Travis Beckum—how will he be used?
Right now, the H-back is in the offense, although Kevin Gilbride has avoided many questions about its utilization. It is what they are calling it for now.
Beckum did not get a full mini camp in because of a hamstring injury and Gilbride still does not know what role Beckum will play.
The H-back is a limited formation and the Giants do not want to use it just to get Beckum on the field. Gilbride referred to the Colts' B-back situation with Dallas Clark as being a possible role for Beckum.
The downside of using an H-back or B-back is that they take the place of the fullback. Most teams do not have a solid fullback like the Giants do in Madison Hedgecock. By going to this type of formation, the Giants will limit their options plus lose the aggressiveness that Hedgecock brings to the offense, especially in the running game.
Also, by lining Beckum up in the backfield, they will be advertising 'pass'. The defense will usually sniff out—and snuff out—that play.
The thought here is that Beckum will not be used as an H or B-back. He will be a slot receiver. The Giants need to get big bodies into opposing secondaries and that is where Beckum will be able to assist. He is not a traditional, full-service tight end so he's best suited as a receiver.
3. Eli's contract—when will he sign, and for how much?
Eli Manning isn't talking contract and neither are the Giants. Everyone knows it is a foregone conclusion that he will sign back with the team rather than wait until he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
Money does not motivate Eli and he doesn't have a shark like Drew Rosenhaus whispering bad advice in his ear. The Giants will move quickly to close the window to put an end to the speculation. By the end of camp, this thing might be all done, even if conventional thinking is telling both sides to wait for a new CBA.
Eli's current salary is $9.4 million. The new contract will probably be for seven years at $15 mil per year. The completed deal may end up being worth about $120 million. The contract would keep Eli in blue until age 35.
4. Wide receivers—who will start?
Currently Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith are the starters. Sinorice Moss is the third receiver with Mario Manningham getting some serious consideration.
It's early and the Giants do not want to pencil in or anoint an unsigned player (Hakeem Nicks) as a starter to prolong or complicate his signing. It is believed that Nicks will be a starter at some point early on and his rookie teammate, Ramses Barden, will get lots of playing time as well.
Hixon is more valuable on special teams and if Moss gets hurt one more time, he's going to plummet down the depth chart. That leaves Smith, Manningham, Nicks, Barden and David Tyree in the main offense. Of course, Hixon will be used often early in the season to smooth over the transition.
Don't forget Travis Beckum's role may end up being more in the WR group than in the TE group.
The starters will end up being Smith and Nicks.
5. What are the expectations for the Giants this season?
The Super Bowl is not an unrealistic goal. They could have made it last season. We've covered that ad nauseum, so lets move on.
The defense has been bolstered up front and the secondary is young and hungry. Only the linebackers pose questions—as is illustrated above not many.
The offense is finally devoid of ballhogs and characters. A new receiving corp to go with a solid line, good TEs and a maturing QB spells big things for NYG.
The prediction is 11-5 which gets them a wild card. The Eagles will be the favorites and finally live up to it with a 13-3 record. The Giants will have to deal with Philly in the playoffs. Keep in mind the Eagles do not fare well as favorites.