COMMENTARY | Teams around the National Football League held their first Organized Team Activities (OTA) this week, a sure sign that football season is getting closer. Normally, these team drills and scrimmages are uneventful, but fans should pay attention to them. Sometimes, they offer clues to the upcoming season. Accordingly, there were a few noteworthy items to come out the New York Giants' OTAs, which took place from May 22-23. Here's a look at three storylines you should be following.
The No-Shows -- Wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks didn't participate in the team's first optional work outs. Cruz continues to seek a long-term deal from the club, so his absence wasn't a surprise. However, coach Tom Coughlin expected to see Nicks, who is looking to bounce back from a down season plagued by foot and knee injuries. What it means: Let's face it, Cruz is not showing for OTAs until he has a new contract, but Nicks should have been there, even though these sessions technically are voluntary. Don't read too much into it, at least not yet. On the bright side, Eli Manning spent more time working with newcomer Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan and Rueben Randle, who re-signed with the team on Thursday (May 23).
Hynoski's Health -- Unsung fullback Henry Hynoski injured his knee on Wednesday (May 25) during an 11-on-11 scrimmage and will require surgery. The bruising fullback only has five carries and 23 receptions in his career, but don't underestimate his importance. Hynoski is a key part of the team's blocking schemes in the passing and running games. What it means: Currently, Hynoski is the only fullback on the team's roster, although tight end Bear Pascoe has played the position in the past. Hynoski could be back for the start of the regular season, but the Giants still may look for a fill in.
Punt Return Problems -- David Wilson, Jerrell Jernigan, Rueben Randle and Aaron Ross handling punt returns on the first day of practices. This may not seem like a big deal, but the Giants ranked dead-last in the NFL with 144 punt return yards last season. Remember, experienced returner Domenik Hixon signed with the Carolina Panthers earlier this offseason. What it means: The explosive Wilson has the most potential of the bunch, since he led the league with 1,533 kick return yards 2012, but he's a candidate to start in the backfield this season. If Wilson starts or gets snaps at running back, would Coughlin risk putting him on special teams? It'll be interesting to see who gets this important job.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.Sources
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- National Football League
- Victor Cruz
- Hakeem Nicks
- Rueben Randle