COMMENTARY | It's no secret that the New York Giants are a feast or famine-type team.
The Super Bowl victory in the 2011 season marks the only playoff appearance for the G-Men in the last four years. If the Giants are going to conjure up any more Super Bowl magic, they're going to need other players to step that aren't named Manning or Cruz.
Here are five candidates with everything in place for an explosive season:Rueben Randle, Wide Receiver
The Big Blue faithful got sporadic glimpses of Randle's star potential over the course of last year's disappointing season. Two touchdown catches in the final game against the Eagles created a bright spot in a game that was otherwise meaningless.
Randle, a second-round pick out of LSU, has been a standout this offseason for the Giants, erasing previous concerns about his "questionable" work ethic. Absences by Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at voluntary OTAs allowed Randle to get more reps, elevating the chemistry between him and Eli. The second-year player is currently third on the Giants' depth chart behind starters Nicks and Cruz, but a lingering groin injury has sidelined Nicks at times during training camp.
Randle is in a privileged position to succeed. He will continue to start if Nicks is unable to play. If Nicks returns fully healthy, Randle should benefit from the attention defenses will be forced to give Nicks and Cruz.Prince Amukamara, Cornerback
After being picked on like a fat kid on the dodge-ball court in his rookie campaign, Prince Amukamara turned in a stellar sophomore year. He finished the year with 53 tackles and seven pass deflections, but, most important, for a cornerback in the NFL, his name was seldom called by announcers. It may have taken Jason Pierre-Paul kindly dumping him into an ice bath for him to gain a chip on his shoulder, but he found it nonetheless.
With experience under his belt and a new swagger to his game, Amukamara has become an established No. 2 corner for the Giants. Aging cornerback Corey Webster, now 31 years old, still has a tight grip on the No. 1 slot but also has to avoid a consecutive disastrous year in the secondary. Consistent struggles from Webster may force a changing of the guard sooner than initially expected.David Wilson, Running Back
Opportunities like the one Wilson has don't come along very often. He knows it. The Giants know it. In the offseason, the team decided to part ways with six-year man Ahmad Bradshaw , who rushed for 1,015 yards a season ago. However, the move was less about Bradshaw and more about Wilson.
Wilson, the first-round pick out of Virginia Tech, will be entering a highly scrutinized second season. While he is likely to split carries with Andre Brown, Wilson has been labeled as the future. His big-play potential is too attractive to ignore and his rookie season was littered with previews. Wilson had a 100-yard game against the New Orleans Saints, where he broke out for a 52-yard scamper. He also had three other games where he rushed for more than 40 yards in limited action.
But Wilson really made a name for himself on special teams, a place where the Giants had been irrelevant for years. Wilson led the NFL in kick-return yards, including a 97-yard touchdown in the Saints game. It will be interesting to see how the Giants use Wilson on special teams with a now integral role within the offense.Brandon Myers, Tight End
The Martellus Bennett experiment turned out to be a one-year charade, as he signed with the Chicago Bears this offseason. Although it initially created a void at tight end for the G-Men, it looks now to be a blessing in disguise.
The Giants signed Brandon Myers, coming off a year in Oakland where he recorded 79 receptions, fourth among tight ends, and 806 yards, sixth among tight ends. The numbers are vastly superior to Bennett's 55 catches for 626 yards, although Bennett did have one more touchdown. Eli has always counted on his tight end, dating back to his rookie year when his favorite target was Jeremy Shockey. After Shockey's departure, Eli kick-started the careers of previously unknown players like Kevin Boss and Jack Ballard.
Last season, Bennett looked like he could be the long-term answer, catching a touchdown in each of the first three games, but his numbers fluctuated from there, recording more than five receptions in a game just once over the course of the season. Myers is a more polished target who should provide more consistency at the position. He will be a major benefactor of the threats that Cruz and Nicks pose on the outside.Mathias Kiwanuka, Defensive End
Kiwanuka, entering his eighth year in the NFL, is making the switch back to full-time defensive end this year, as the Giants hope to resurrect the NASCAR package, which looked like it was running on flat tires last season.
Back in 2010, Kiwanuka was moved to linebacker in order to keep him in the lineup among a plethora of talented defensive ends. However, reinforcements at defensive end are in high demand this year. Pro-Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul is recovering from back surgery, Osi Umenyiora is now sporting a Falcons uniform, and the injury-riddled Justin Tuck has just nine sacks in the last two seasons. A position that was once a staple of the Giants' defense is now in danger of becoming a potential weakness. Kiwanuka had eight sacks stepping in for an injured Umenyiora in 2008, and he will try and find that same groove as a starter this season.
Daniel Brennan lives in Westchester, New York and is a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University, where he graduated with honors and a degree in Journalism.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- New York Giants
- Hakeem Nicks
- Rueben Randle
- Victor Cruz
- Prince Amukamara