Again, I am embroiled with other pundits across the Internet and in barrooms over the value of rookies.
This year, the Giants will be looking for an inside linebacker in the draft (or in free agency) to become the centerpiece of their defense. To ask a rookie to step in and lead a defense to the playoffs is highly unrealistic.
That is why whoever they draft at MLB will mainly watch from the sidelines while a veteran (in-house candidate Jonathan Goff or a free agent such as Kirk Morrison) drives the bus in the meantime.
That aside, the Giants were leveled by injuries last season and never got to display Jerry Reese’s recent draft and free-agent gems. Here’s a quick update on a few of the players that fell short of expectations in 2009 and should make more of an impact in 2010….
DE Justin Tuck was tripped by Dallas’ Flozell Adams in Week Two, badly injuring his shoulder and inhibiting his ability to both rush the passer and stop the run. He played the final 14 games with his arm strapped to his body. He will be ready for training camp.
Free agent LB Michael Boley played well for the most part, but an early season suspension and then a knee injury shortened his season. He should be back and ready to display the athleticism that Reese had paid a small fortune last spring to see.
Two other FAs, DTs Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty lost most of their seasons to injuries as well. They are both looking to come to camp 100% back.
S Kenny Phillips only played two games last year before he had his knee woes addressed and—by all accounts—should be ready for the 2010 season.
CB Aaron Ross only dressed for four games in 2009. His hamstring is rested and ready to go for the 2010 season.
DT Jay Alford , a key component in the Giants’ defensive line rotation, never made it out of training camp. His knee injury landed him on season-ending IR. He’s coming back and he will help solidify the d-line.
Other players that will open some eyes in 2010 will be the team’s three second round draft choices from the past two drafts: CB Terrell Thomas, LB Clint Sintim and OT Will Beatty.
Thomas has already shown that he can be productive. Beatty held his own in the few spot starts he got last season, and Sintim, who was hobbled by a groin injury for most of the season will build on some of the strong performances he logged last season.
Bradshaw had foot and ankle problems and never really got on track. Ware was held out of eight games due to various injuries and Brown blew out his Achilles in training camp.
This group should have better luck in 2010.
Players to watch in 2010: WR Ramses Barden and TE Travis Beckum . Barden had a hard time making the gameday 45-man roster because he was not faring well on special teams. The team dressed Domenik Hixon and Derek Hagan instead.
Reese had this to say…“We like Ramses Barden. We think he’s really a talent and we expect to get him in there early this time. You only have so many spots you can play out there, but we expect him to be in the mix and be a strong contributor for us.”
Barden, along with Steve Smith , Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks give the Giants a solid young corp of receivers, among the league’s best.
The Giants are trying to get Beckum into the offensive flow as well. The Giants have reduced the TE role in recent years and opponents are beginning to notice. They need to make Beckum and Kevin Boss relevant pieces in the passing game.
I think they will.