New York Giants: Preseason Position Battles

Michael SamuelSenior Analyst IJune 7, 2008

The Giants are set to open up a 3-day mandatory mini-camp.  This will be the first mandatory OTA for Tom Coughlin and his troops.

This winter and spring brought about joy and excitement for BIG BLUE with the Super Bowl win and also with the drafting of players from football powerhouses.

Last season saw rookies Steve Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw and Kevin Boss on the offensive end, along with Jay Alford and Aaron Ross on the defensive side.  There will now be a lot of position battles for the Giants coaching staff to evaluate.

The Defensive Tackle position is one of depth for the Giants, which includes Barry Cofield, Fred Robbins and Jay Alford.  On third down, Justin Tuck will usually line up inside and rush the passer.  All three of the other tackles have talent, are still on the upside and can rush the passer in Spagnuolo's high-pressure defense.

Alford had his glory in the Super Bowl and sacked Tom Brady to close the coffin on any comeback bid the Patriots had.  I think that the starters will be Cofield and Robbins. Alford will wait his turn, but they will all rotate in and out. 

Having fresh defensive lineman is a good idea to give the defense a look consisting of different players and also each player can give it their all because they will be well rested.

Today in the NFL, you need a two-running back system to be successful.  The "problem" for the Giants is that they have four running backs who could play probably for any other NFL team. 

Jacobs will absolutely, mark my word, will be one of those guys barring injury.  That leaves my favorite player in the NFL, Ahmad Bradshaw, Derek Ward and Rueben Droughns to compete for one of those spots.

Ward is the best pass catcher, Bradshaw is the quickest and has the most upside and Droughns is the most experienced and also has been a feature back.

I think the second-most used running back will be Bradshaw, because he just provides the home run ability. If you turn on the Super Bowl, you will see that he runs really hard and can break tackles.

Ward, though, could see some action on third down and also occasionally can spell Jacobs or Bradshaw. Droughns will play special teams and could see carries in goal line and short yardage situation.

Recently in an NFL article on ESPN, they ranked the top 64 running backs and Ahmad Bradshaw was left off, yet Ward was ranked 58th, so maybe the Giants do like Ward. 

Besides the Defensive line, what else helped propel the G-Men to their third all-time Super Bowl win?  The answer is David Tyree, who could see some action although he is out until training camp.

Hopefully, the Giants will exercise loyalty and play him, because he made possibly the greatest play in sports history and also scored a touchdown in that quarter. 

The Giants like a lot of these receivers, but really only four of them will play on a consistent basis.  Plaxico Burress will be in there, everyone knows that.  Plax is tough, big, physical and Eli's go-to guy.

Amani Toomer has been on the team since 1996 and is a tough-nosed receiver. He has lost a step but still provides veteran poise and leadership.

Steve Smith made big catch after big catch in the Super Bowl; four of the five were on third down. The two left are Sinorice Moss who at times looks lost, and  third-round pick Mario Manningham. 

Moss was supposed to be a big-play threat, but at times he drops easy passes, doesn't always run forward with the ball after the catch but rather tries to make big plays when they aren't there.

Manningham has some baggage but many believe he was a first-round talent.  It will be tough to see who gets the playing time behind Plax, Toomer and Smith but I would say that the GMEN will look to get Manningham involved.

The tight end battle will not be so much involved, because there are only two candidates and eventually could only be one.  Jeremy Shockey has been disgruntled this off-season about how some suggest the Giants are better with Kevin Boss. 

Shockey is the best all-around tight end in football. He possesses great hands, speed but most of all a passion for the game which really is reflected in his blocking ability.  Shockey has made it no secret that he wants out of New York.

Kevin Boss could be a future star at tight end. He has great size at nearly 6-foot-7, decent speed and good hands.  He also is much more quiet and Eli feels no pressure to get him the ball because Boss lets the offense come to him.  If the Giants keep Shockey, which I see them doing, they could feature some 2 tight end sets, or rotate them in and out. 

Defensive End is the position in which there is depth but also uncertainty.  Michael Strahan could dictate how the rest of the front seven fills out.

If Strahan comes back, they will have him, Tuck, Osi, sixth-round pick Robert Henderson and Renayldo Wynn.  This will move Mathias Kiwunyka to OLB, which was a rough transition for him last year. 

Even in the Super Bowl, the Giants rotated their DE so they could be fresh and get after the quarterback.  Go ask Tom Brady how getting pressured and knocked down and flat out he looked phased for the first time in his career in that Super Bowl.

I Think that Strahan will be back because he does enjoy playing in the games and hanging out in the locker room.  The regular rotation will be Strahan and Osi starting. Wynn could also see some time because of his veteran presence.

The one position we all know is locked up for the starter is QB. We all know Eli Manning, hate him or love him, can make big plays and is about as big-game of a QB as there is in the NFL.  The backup situation is sticky, though.

Andre Woodson was drafted in the sixth round. He could be valuable a few years down the line as a back-up in case Eli is injured, even though Manning has never missed a start yet in his career.

Anthony Wright, David Carr and Jared Lorenzen round out the roster.  Lorenzen should be gone, because he looks more like a lineman than a quarterback.  Anthony Wright will also be gone because of the signing of David Carr, who I believe could start and this year he will be penciled in as Eli's backup. 

A player that goes unnoticed is Madison Hedgecock, who at FB will have no challengers for his spot.  I believe he is the best pure blocking fullback in the league, and what a find that was for the Giants last year off of the waiver wire from the St. Louis Rams

All in all, we are less than 3 months until BIG BLUE opens their title defense and more excited I could not be. And quick note to bandwagon fans, we don't need you.

Feel free to leave your comments if you think these position battles will play out differently.


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