Three Giants Veterans Who Will Have To Emerge in 2009

David GellerAnalyst IApril 29, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 7:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants pitches the ball to Ahmad Bradshaw #44 against the Philadelphia Eagles at Giants Stadium on December 7, 2008 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

With a multitude of draft slots, the Giants could have traveled down various paths that would be considered logical to alleviate their biggest needs. The most popular theory was that the Giants would trade at least their first round pick to attain Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards.

But in what is considered to be the Giants’ way, they came into the draft with 10 selections and left with nine rookies.

While the addition of young talent is a cause for excitement in the Meadowlands, there are certain veteran players who have little time to ponder how a Clint Sintim or William Beatty will contribute to the team. Instead, they will have to pick up their game for the team—and for themselves.

Eli Manning—Last year was a honeymoon season of sorts for Manning. If he struggled, questions may have flared up regarding if he was a one-month wonder in 2007, but he would have generally gotten a pass from the fans and media.

He played well up until December, but was erratic down the stretch, which may have coincided with the suspension of his star receiver. This year, that excuse does not exist for Eli.

Sure, his offensive coordinator is under immense scrutiny. Yes, his wide receiver corps consists of question marks and youth. And yes, it will be windy in December and January. But he still has to produce. This is a championship-quality squad and the Giants have a chance to be special this season.

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The acquisition of a Braylon Edwards or Anquan Boldin would have taken some of the load off of Eli’s shoulders, but neither of them will likely be Giants when they kick off the year at home against the Redskins.

Ultimately, Manning will have to thrive with talented, yet equally unproven targets. An upper tier quarterback is supposed to make his receivers look better then they are said to be. Let’s see if Manning does just that this year.

Ahmad Bradshaw—Fans can question many things about Bradshaw. But not his honesty. When asked by former teammate Michael Strahan if he preferred that both Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs return in 2009, Bradshaw simply responded with a “No.”

And who can blame him? He emerged from the depths where a seventh round rookie lurked into virtual stardom with a terrific playoff campaign. Then Derrick Ward came back from his broken leg in 2008 and complemented Brandon Jacobs in arguably the most dominant running game in the league.

Bradshaw was a mere bystander for most of the season, as he predominantly got his yards late in blowouts.

When thrust into the middle of a seesaw Sunday night game in Philadelphia, Bradshaw ran for nearly 40 yards on just five carries. But it could have been more had it not been for a fumble on the tail end of a long run in the third quarter. This fumble provoked Tom Coughlin to keep the ball in the hands of Ward and Jacobs for the rest of the game.

Bradshaw has had a history of fumbles stemming from his collegiate playing days, and while the Giants coaching staff has a history with curing fumbling ills (Tiki Barber anyone?), it is no given Bradshaw will repair his issue.

The Giants have two talented backs right behind Bradshaw on the depth chart. Rookie Andre Brown, who has drawn comparisons to Ward, and Danny Ware, who had a solid preseason in 2008.

Kevin Boss—One thing that can be said about Kevin Boss is that when the ball is thrown his way, good things generally happen. Except the ball wasn’t thrown his way too often. In just 33 catches he passed the first down marker 21 times and had six touchdowns, a very good rate.

But he did not command the amount of attention that a more respected tight end would, and without Plaxico Burress this really hurt the Giants down the stretch. The Giants were reportedly interested in acquiring Tony Gonzales at the deadline during the middle of the 2008 season and as recently as a month ago, but they passed both times.

Although the Giants' offense hasn’t been predicated much on the tight end catching the ball in the last few years, the Giants do want Boss to emerge into a threat. He has good speed, a solid build, and rarely drops the ball.

But a tight end could be a quarterback’s best friend when the weather gets nasty, and if Boss proves he can’t produce in those situations, then the Giants may be tempted to acquire a tight end that can.

The Giants did draft a tight end in the third round, but Jerry Reese claimed that was to give Manning an option out of the backfield. However, if Beckum proves to be a reliable pass catcher he could see more action at tight end on passing downs, while Boss would be relegated to merely a blocking role.

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