Five New York Giants Who Have Stepped Up: Fan’s Take

The New York Giants have earned their week off. Big Blue enters its bye week with four wins in its first six games of the season, including huge wins over the rival Philadelphia Eagles and AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills. It all has the G-Men sitting atop the NFC East. But they wouldn't be there if not for the surprisingly good play of these five Giants; they have been key to the team's strong start.

Dave Tollefson (DE) — With defensive ends Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck both missing games in the first few weeks, Tollefson has provided depth at the position. He's played inside and on special teams, too, showing hustle and heart. Guys like him don't make Pro Bowls, but they help teams win games. He's going to make some big plays before the season is over—count on it.

Jacquian Williams (LB) — Williams, the Giants' sixth-round pick out of South Florida, has provided much-needed depth at linebacker. The rookie, who stepped into a starting role when Jonathan Goff went down with a season-ending injury, has shown solid tackling technique and range on the football field. He had 10 tackles against Philadelphia in week three and has 35 total tackles on the season.

Will Beatty (OT) — The Giants' offensive line deserves a ton of credit. The patchwork group, which appeared to be in shambled at the beginning of the season, has held it together through six weeks. Beatty is one of the unsung heroes. He moved into a starting role at left tackle, allowing veteran David Diehl to slid over to left guard. Yes, the Giants running game is ranked near the bottom of the league, but Eli Manning is getting time to throw the ball and he's throwing it well.

Jake Ballard (TE) — Ballard, who replaced Kevin Boss at tight end, has shown improvement each week. His career-highs of five catches and 81 yards in week six were key to defeating the Buffalo Bills. Ballard, who has 274 yards receiving and two touchdowns, has shown surprisingly good hands and a knack for running short-yardage routes. Eli Manning trusts him, as should Giants fans.

Victor Cruz (WR) — Cruz has filled the No.3 receiver void left by Steve Smith, who bolted for the Philadelphia Eagles before the season started. He's had a couple of no-show games, but his two touchdowns against Philly in week three led the Giants to a 29-16 upset victory. Cruz, who didn't play a regular season down prior to this season, has 398 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Smith, by the way, has 63 yards and no touchdowns. Just saying.

More Giants content from this Yahoo! contributor:

Grading the Giants' offense for week 6: Fan's take

Grading the Giants' defense for week 6: Fan's take

Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans.

Sources

Pro-Football-Reference.com.

The Official Site of the New York Giants.

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Updated Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011