John Fennelly, Lead Writer
One week until the Giants report for training camp out at QDTC. There are no holdouts and/or contract disputes hanging over their heads. Everyone is signed and in the fold.
The next week will be filled with “camp battle” and “surprise players” posts, pure speculation on the part of the local pundits.
I’d like to tell you I know what’s going to happen, but at this point I know as much (or as little) as everyone else in the room. I will tell you this: there are several players the Giants absolutely need to perform up to snuff this season and they will not succeed without ample participation from these players.
The first, of course, is QB Eli Manning. All signs are pointing to him having a resurgence in 2014. But, if he doesn’t, the Giants will obviously be in trouble. They can’t afford to have him bleeding them dry with turnovers again. He must stay on the positive side of the turnover ledger, at the very least, in order to give the Blue a shot at a decent season.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul must return to a reasonable facsimile of his former self. It’s true the Giants beefed up their secondary, but without a consistent – or dominant – pass rush, a defense can get carved up by the most average of QBs. Pierre-Paul is, by admission, not 100% and can no longer use his superhuman powers to zip past offensive tackles. He must rely more on tact and skill, something we’ve been told he’s learning to do.
S Stevie Brown was set to be a nice addition to the Giants’ three-pronged safety package this season. That was until Will Hill blew up his career with another suspension, ending his Giant career. The Giants were hoping to ease Brown, coming off a lost season after tearing his ACL, back into the rotation. Only now he’s expected to be the No. 2 safety behind Antrel Rolle. It could be a rough go for a guy coming off a major injury. Any setback would be an issue for the Giants and their defensive plans.
OT Will Beatty’s health could hold up the Giants’ new offensive plans, however. Beatty broke his leg in the team’s final game last season and is still rehabbing. We’ve been told he’ll be ready for training camp, but that remains to be seen. Beatty’s spot was filled by free agent Charles Brown in the spring drills. Brown was a starter for the Saints for several seasons, protecting Drew Brees’ blind side until a few poor outings vs the Rams cost him his job. Plain and simple, the Giants need one of these players – Beatty or Brown – to play consistently at LT this summer.
The Giants got a boost from the addition of MLB Jon Beason last season. He came right in and took over the headset, calling the signals, getting everyone lined up and making key tackles. Beason sustained a foot injury this spring that will cause him to miss all of the Giants’ training camp, preseason and possibly part of the regular season. They have shifted over another free agent to the MLB spot. Jameel McClain played a lot of downs for the vaunted Baltimore Ravens’ defense the past six seasons and the Giants are hoping he – and rookie Devon Kennard – can defray the loss of Beason. My take: Beason needs to get healthy soon.
I never say rookies are on the spot, but the Giants’ first two draft picks, WR Odell Beckham, Jr and C Weston Richburg, must contribute in their inaugural seasons in Blue. Beckham will be asked to play a significant role in a three-headed receiving corp consisting of himself, Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. All three are being counted on to produce. Richburg will compete with veteran free agent JD Walton for the center position this summer. Many feel he will be the starter. The Giants like the way he fits into their new offense, so it’s a distinct possibility he’ll be a big contributor right off the bat.