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New York Giants: 5 Players That Need To Step Up and Wake Up Down the Stretch

Anthony PrestanoContributor IIIDecember 2, 2011

New York Giants: 5 Players That Need To Step Up and Wake Up Down the Stretch

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    One bad punt and eight-and-a-half dreadful minutes were the only things keeping the Giants from the NFC crown last season.  

    It seems yet again that another second-half collapse may be occurring for the G-Men, and unless these players step up down the stretch, it may be another disappointing year for Giants fans, once again putting Tom Coughlin's job in jeopardy. 

Aaron Ross

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    After being benched for poor play early on in the season, it's been yet another roller-coaster ride for the former first-round draft pick Aaron Ross.  

    The Giants secondary is simply getting picked apart this year. Without leader Terrell Thomas and faced with a tough matchup against possibly the very best quarterback in the league this week in Aaron Rodgers, things are not looking good for the Giants' hopes of trying to stop the strong pass offense of the Packers.  

    Aaron Ross needs to make some big plays down the stretch in order for this team to improve their pass defense.

Ahmad Bradshaw

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    The New York Giants rank a horrific 32nd in yards-per-carry and yards-per-game this year.  That's simply embarrassing for a team with playoff aspirations. 

    Ahmad Bradshaw has to run wild coming off a foot injury for the Giants to get where they want to be, and also to take some pressure off the shoulders of Eli Manning.  Clearly Brandon Jacobs was not a good substitute for Bradshaw, as his numbers have gotten worse each game.  

    Ahmad Bradshaw needs to carry the load for this offense in these next few games if the Giants have any hopes of improving their run game.

Mathias Kiwanuka

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    One of the biggest weaknesses for this Giants team this year has been the linebacking corps.

    Jerry Reese's decision to re-sign Mathias Kiwanuka this offseason may not have turned out the way he had hoped this season.  

    Originally a defensive lineman, Kiwanuka was moved prior to the season due to the feeble abilities of the linebackers for the G-Men.  Kiwanuka's presence has not been felt coming off the edge this year when blitzing, and when it's not a blitz it's usually a blown coverage resulting in a large gain, which you can see in the picture above.  

    Perry Fewell and the Giants need to find a new role for Kiwanuka for him to be effective on this defense. 

Mario Manningham

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    Many were expecting big things this year out of Mario Manningham, but nagging injuries has let Victor Cruz embrace the opportunity.  Manningham has less receiving yards this year then Jake Ballard, who has only become relevant as of late.  

    The lanky wide reciever makes life easier for Eli Manning and would greatly contribute to this offense and young core of wide receivers when he returns in the upcoming weeks, if he returns and plays at full ability like the Giants need him to.

Justin Tuck

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    Justin Tuck has been anchoring this Giants defense for a few years now, but this year his presence hasn't been felt.  .

    Another player sidelined due to injuries, he has not contributed at all to the Giants pass rush. Once a frightening sight for opposing offensive linemen, they have not had much trouble containing him this year.  Tuck has a measly two sacks on the year, while rookie Jason Pierre-Paul has 10.5.  

    The Giants clearly could use his finesse on the defensive line, as it seems the Giants have been trouble getting to quarterbacks all season.

Expectations

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    I don't expect the Giants to improve and make the playoffs unless these players step up in the upcoming weeks, especially Ahmad Bradshaw.

    Eli may be "Elite," but he can't do it all by himself.  The Giants need to improve their running game and their weak secondary if they hope to make the playoffs and save this team from yet another late-season collapse.  

    Will Tom Coughlin keep his job?  

    Will Brandon Jacobs remain with the team next season?  

    Will the New York Giants disappoint their fans yet again?

    All this and much more remains to be seen in the last five weeks of this great NFL season.

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