COMMENTARY | Every team in the National Football League has unanswered questions heading into training camp. The New York Giants, who open camp on July 26, may have more than others, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Last season, the G-Men allowed a franchise-high 6,134 yards and were ranked No. 25 and No. 28 against the run and pass, respectively. Furthermore, the Giants' complete failure to stop the run in the second half of the season led to the team's downfall. Something has to change in 2013, and the answers to these five questions may tell us if the defense is going to turn it around this season.
Where does Terrell Thomas play?
Thomas was a rising star at cornerback before twice blowing out his right knee and missing the last two seasons. He's back, but can he stay on the field? To reduce punishment on his repaired ACL, the Giants most likely will move Thomas to safety, where he doesn't have to stop, start and cut as much. A healthy Thomas will add depth to the secondary, which gave up too many big plays last season.
Who backs up at defensive tackle?
The Giants signed former Philadelphia Eagle Cullen Jenkins, who will start next to Linval Joseph, but who's going to back them up? The competition behind Jenkins and Joseph is going to be hot with a handful of candidates battling it out for limited roster spots. Rookie Johnathan Hankins is safe, but Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn and Shaun Rogers will be fighting for jobs.
Who starts at middle linebacker?
Third-year pro Mark Herzlich looked ready to start at voluntary workouts and did nothing to hurt his chances during minicamp. But he's going to see competition from Spencer Paysinger and Dan Connor for the middle linebacker gig. Whoever wins the starting job will be replacing leading-tackler Chase Blackburn, who was invaluable because of his familiarity with the team's defensive schemes.
Who will be the surprise of camp?
Jason Pierre-Paul's back surgery has shuffled the defensive end rotation. For the time being, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka will replace JPP with several candidates competing for backup snaps. One of them is Adrian Tracy, who spent 2010 on injured reserve and 2011 on the practice squad. Tracy has loads of potential, but he hasn't had opportunity to play until now -- look for him to step up in 2013.
Who's in danger of being cut?
It's difficult to project cuts at this point, but there aren't enough roster spots to keep everyone. As mentioned above, Austin is fighting for a job at defensive tackle. The injury-plagued DT hasn't made an impact since being taken in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft. As far as other non-rookies go, safety Tyler Sash may be expendable with the offseason addition of veteran Ryan Mundy.
What questions or concerns do you have of the Giants' defense heading into training camp? Let me now in the comments section below.
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
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