COMMENTARY | The New York Giants, who will report to training camp on Friday, July 26, 2013, will be looking to improve a 9-7 won-loss record that saw them miss the playoffs last year.
With their sights set on becoming the first team in NFL history to participate in a Super Bowl that will be played in their home stadium, New York has a lot of work to do--and many questions to answer--before the 2013 regular season campaign begins.
Here is a look at a few of those questions facing the Giants
1. Will the injured players be ready for opening day?
In a perfect world, the Giants would enter training camp with 100% of their summer roster fully healthy and ready to go. However, that will not be the case this year, as New York is likely to have at least two players start training camp on PUP: FB Henry Hynoski (knee) and DE Jason Pierre-Paul (back), both of whom had surgeries late in the spring.
Then there are questions as to how much, if any, work other players recovering from surgeries will do this summer, guys such as offensive linemen Chris Snee (hip) and David Baas (multiple); cornerback Terrell Thomas (knee); and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee).
One thing to watch closely regarding the injured players is not only who starts training camp on PUP, but also how long they remain there. The deeper into training camp a player sits on PUP, the less likely he is to be ready for opening day.
For those wondering, players placed on PUP at the start of training camp do count toward the active roster and are eligible to come off PUP at any time up until the final roster cut down date. If a player is injured during camp, he is not eligible to be placed on PUP.
2. Who will be the starting linebackers?
Everyone's favorite position is undergoing yet another makeover, as not one, but three starting jobs are up for grabs.
With NFL offenses becoming more creative and leaning more toward the passing game, the Giants will probably end up mixing and matching their linebacker personnel, depending on the opponent and the specific game plan.
Still, three guys have to emerge as the starters, and based on how the spring practices ended, those three are projected to be Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, and Keith Rivers.
A subplot to who the starting linebackers will be is the health of this unit. Williams missed part of the spring while resting a knee injury that he suffered last season. Rivers was in and out of the trainer's room last season, while Aaron Curry had his share of issues before joining the Giants.
3. Who will start at right tackle on the offensive line?
The Giants drafted Justin Pugh in the first round with visions of him potentially challenging for and winning the starting right tackle job. However, after the spring minicamp concluded, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride noted that incumbent David Diehl, who is now over the ailments that affected his play last season, was still stubbornly holding on.
"The man is not going to give up the job," Gilbride said of Diehl. "He doesn't care who has been drafted-- he was a low draft pick when he got here and no one ever expected a lot from him. What has he been playing now--10 years? He has been a starter. I think it is going to be very difficult for someone to unseat him.
4. Who will return kickoffs and punts?
Domenik Hixon, who finished the year as the punt returner, is gone, having moved to the Carolina Panthers. David Wilson, who excelled as a kickoff returner, is still here, but he's in line for a bigger role on the offense and might not get much of a chance for an encore to his stellar special teams showing last year.
So who is in line to handle the two return jobs? The candidates for both positions have included receivers Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan, and cornerback Charles James, an undrafted rookie free agent.
5. Can cornerback Corey Webster rebound from last year's subpar performance?
Ask anyone affiliated with the team and they'll agree with the consensus that Corey Webster did not have a strong showing last season. A large part of that was due to injuries - Webster dealt with a broken hand which Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta said hurt Webster's press technique.
"When he broke his hand, it hurt him with his press technique because he wasn't able to put his hand on the receiver so he tried to compensate," Giunta said.
The coaches and Webster all agree that the veteran cornerback, who is also recovered from a nagging hamstring injury from last season, is poised for a comeback in what could very well be his final year with the team.
Patricia Traina is a New Jersey-based, accredited sportswriter who covers the New York Giants for Inside Football. She is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow her on Twitter @Patricia_Traina for all the latest Giants news and notes, including daily updates from training camp.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- New York Giants