Aug 7, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin (left) with quarterback Eli Manning (10) during team practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Giants Steelers: Here We Go!

Preseason is Here for Big Blue: Time to Take Notes!

Of course I am super excited about the fact that football is here!  As the New York Football Giants head into Week 1 of pre-season, I have a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over:

  • People ask me, what do I think about the Giants going into the 2013 season?  Well, everyone knows I am a decades Big Blue die-hard.  But I also think there’s been a lot of drama in the off-season – probably more than I like to see from the men in blue.  So while I believe hands down that the solid foundation is absolutely there for the Giants to be a championship team this year – Eli, Coughlin and Reese are on the same page and we have some great veteran leadership to help pull the team together – I also think that finding cohesiveness as one team, with one game plan is going to be absolutely critical to winning.  Unity as a TEAM is unselfish; it’s focused on the greater good.  It’s ALL IN.  It’s hungry.  It’s focused. As I have said before – almost every championship team I can think of has that element.  And the changes and offseason drama have me a little bit on edge about this key component to success.  So we will see how things come together in the weeks ahead.

 

  • Many people look at pre-season as, well – a throwaway.  It’s just pre-season.  Well, I’m here to tell you that I have my spreadsheet ready this year!  I am excited to evaluate the various units on the team to see who performs, who breaks out, who may not show up the way they need to in effort to make the 53-man roster (again).  Unlike the regular season, I don’t really care much about the final score; only that we have a great opportunity to try out our options, our different looks; and that we can effectively evaluate who has the skill, the hunger, the ‘it’ to make this the best possible 53-man roster for blue in 2013.  I can honestly say – I can’t wait for pre-season to begin!  You can expect that I’ll be taking notes during every game!

  • Get out of pre-season without any (significant) injuries.  It hasn’t happened in the last few years – we’ve been a walking (uh, sometimes not walking) infirmary.

  • The running backs… Hm.  Yes, I would love to say that I am already convinced that the Giants have that dynamic duo at the running back position that we have seen in years past.  But it’s just too early to know.  While David Wilson showed sparks of greatness toward the end of the 2012 season, is he big enough and mature enough to carry a game?  Is he able to return kicks and run and block as the lead back for 4 quarters?  Too early to tell.  ‘Dre Brown showed heart and power early in the 2012 season, but went out with a broken fibula later on.  Early in his career, he went out with an Achilles injury that forced him to miss his rookie season.  Can Andre Brown stay injury free and continue to become the hungry back we started to see break out last season?

  • Who will return punts?  I was reminded the other day by a good friend of mine that returning punts is a lot more than catching a ball and running for your life.  A punt returner needs to be able to make quick decisions, have wider vision and strong instincts.  A punt returner needs to quickly know if it should be a fair catch or if he has to go for it, and all while having no blockers and barely a second before being pummeled by a load of Mac trucks running right in his direction.  Are there enough real candidates who possess not only the ability to catch and run, but those critical leadership characteristics; AND of them, who we are willing to put at risk in such a dangerous position?

  • Of course I’m excited about the linebacker competition.  Many people have been down on this historically great Giants position.  I say this: how can we go wrong?  We have a couple hands full of strong options at the various linebacker positions – not to mention the talk of Tuck doing a dual DE-LB role, and the versatility of Kiwi.  Pre-season is going to ferret out the best of this high potential group! (Okay, I admit it was a bummer seeing Chase Blackburn in a Panthers jersey this evening.)

  • Offensive Line.  Well, it appears as though we won’t see Chris Snee or 1st draft pick Justin Pugh during the pre-season opener.  James Brewer may also be out.  This puts Brandon Mosley at starter – so he will get an opportunity to protect Eli.  Questions remain at Center, so I hope to see improvement.  I hope we see a strong, confident and interchangeable line, with some of the younger guys showing readiness to step in.  Please, please protect Eli.  No injuries.

  • Where is Adewale Ojomo?  Will he show up in the pre-season games like he did last year? Not a lot of room at the DE position to keep him unless he’s a rock star in these preseason games.  He needs to come hungry and ready to sack, or he just won’t make the team.

  • After 2 drug suspensions, can Will Hill find a way to stay on this team?

  • I’m excited to see the rookies in action – especially Damontre Moore (DE) and Big Hank (Johnathan Hankins, DT), and while it’s possible he won’t play in the first pre-season game, I’m looking forward to seeing what Cooper Taylor (S) can do as he fights for what might only be 2 open Safety spots behind Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown.

  • And speaking of rookies, what about this backup QB thing?  I hesitate to call it a race or competition.  I don’t see a 4th rounder originally projected for the 1st (Ryan Nassib) being waived, and I honestly think Carr’s experience is a better likely direction to backup Eli in 2013.  The Giants haven’t kept 3 QBs on the active roster in years, and I have a hard time seeing that happening in exchange for a roster spot at another position where they can use the depth.  So I’ll be watching this closely too, and by the time we hit pre-season week 4, I’ll put a stake in the ground.

  • Other players I’m excited to see on the field in blue?  Adrien Robinson and Brandon Myers at TE; big guys at DT Cullen Jenkins, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers; Aaron Curry at LB; Kicker Josh Brown, and the entire DB competition – we can’t keep ‘em all, and I imagine there will be some surprises when it’s time to make cuts.

 

And the last thing on my mind (pretty much non-stop for the last several days – and nights)…

Football is Here Everyone!

ALL IN!

Ali

@aliconig

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