New York Giants rookies and select veterans will report for training camp on Tuesday, July 19. The remainder of the team will report on Tuesday, July 26 with the first practice getting underway on Wednesday, July 27.
It may be hard to believe but football season is just around the bend.
With the start of Giants camp now just a week away, here’s a quick look at seven players who stand the most to gain.
S Julian Love
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Julian Love will enter training camp the favorite to start alongside Xavier McKinney at safety, so what could he possibly have to gain?
The reality is that Wink Martindale may want to do a lot more with Love than start him at safety. He’s always been a Swiss Army knife-like player and is too valuable to be tied down to one spot.
“I think the biggest adjustment is that it’s pretty aggressive. It’s fun to be a DB in this system,” Love told Good Morning Football in a recent interview. “We’ve enjoyed having him so far and getting to know him for sure. And now we’re going to get after it on D this year.”
Love has the opportunity to prove to the new staff that he can play all over the field and in just about any role Martindale can dream up.
TE Ricky Seals-Jones
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The Giants appear content with the tight ends they have on the roster headed into training camp and that means plenty of opportunity. And while rookie Daniel Bellinger seems to be the starting favorite early on, Ricky Seals-Jones can find his way into a larger role with a strong summer.
The Giants signed Seals-Jones this offseason and hope to get the most out of the 27-year-old. And if the combination of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka run 12-personnel frequently, that bodes well for the veteran.
Ultimately, Seals-Jones has an opportunity to steal the starting job or at the very least, practice his way into a significant role.
WR Richie James Jr.
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Perhaps no player on the 90-man roster stands to gain more in training camp than Richie James Jr.
The Giants are in search of new return men and James certainly fits that bill. He’s returned 51 punts for 373 yards and 47 kickoffs for 1,081 yards and one touchdown in his career, so the experience is there. He’ll compete with the likes of Kadarius Toney and C.J. Board for those roles.
But there’s more to James than his return prowess. He’s also a very capable receiver who could grind his way into an offensive role. With multiple pass-catchers sitting out this past spring, James was among a handful of players (Wan’Dale Robinson another) who seized on that opportunity.
Big Blue may have numbers at wide receiver but James’ special teams ability could be what gives him the edge.
RB Gary Brightwell
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The Giants drafted Gary Brightwell specifically because of his special teams ability. And in his rookie season under former head coach Joe Judge, he filled that role admirably.
In 2022, head coach Brian Daboll and special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey will likely want him back in that role. However, there will be an opportunity for Brightwell to take on additional responsibility.
Behind starting running back Saquon Barkley there’s quite a bit of uncertainty. The depth chart consists of Matt Breida, Antonio Williams, Sandro Platzgummer and rookie Jashaun Corbin, and there’s no clear-cut favorite to serve as No. 2. That opens the door for Brightwell.
After taking just 12 snaps on offense as a rookie, Brightwell will now have a chance to establish himself as a legitimate option on the ground.
LB Carter Coughlin
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The Giants are lacking depth at several key areas and one of those comes at inside linebacker.
The returning Blake Martinez is obviously penciled in at one of those two spots, but the other will be left open to training camp competition. Tae Crowder will be considered the early favorite to start across from Martinez but that’s far from settled.
Among those who will have the opportunity to step in is Carter Coughlin, the team’s seventh-round pick from 2020.
Coughlin missed 10 games last season due to injury but is back and health here in 2022. He’ll compete with the aforementioned Crowder, Cam Brown (who also could have been listed here), Darrian Beavers, Micah McFadden and Justin Hilliard for the starting role/playing time.
NT D.J. Davidson
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The Giants, who will again run a “multiple” defense in 2022, have just two true nose tackles on their roster: veteran Justin Ellis and rookie D.J. Davidson.
Ellis will understandably enter training camp as the favorite to start, but don’t be so quick to rule Davidson out. The 6-foot-3, 327-pounder brings surprising athleticism and football smarts to the table.
“We are excited about working with him inside, again, trying to add some depth up front there,” general manager Joe Schoen said after drafting Davidson.
Davidson vs. Ellis will be the Giants’ only one-on-one training camp battle.
EDGE Elerson Smith
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The Giants were excited about the potential of edge rusher Elerson Smith when they selected him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft, but they never really got to see that materialize.
Smith’s rookie season was marred by injury and multiple stints on IR. He saw action in just eight games, taking 107 snaps on defense and 94 on special teams. All told, Smith recorded eight tackles, two QB hits and one forced fumble.
There was a flash or two but nothing like the Giants expected. But under Wink Martindale, Smith now stands to benefit from a clean slate and a much more aggressive system.
There’s certainly a lot to wade through at outside linebacker/edge, but Smith is likely to enter camp just behind Azeez Ojulari on the depth chart. That sets him up for a roster battle against veteran Jihad Smith, as well as Quincy Roche and Oshame Ximines (who will also benefit from a clean slate).
The Giants like Smith’s raw athleticism and it’s possible Martindale finds a very specific role for him if he plays well throughout camp.