A new Giants season is upon us
There’s a buzz in the air on this August 3rd of 2014, and that buzz is NFL football.
Tonight is the first real glimpse of NFL football since the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Yes, this is only the preseason, and most casual fans just watch the starter reps (if that). I feel this is primarily the case because the viewers are not sure who, or what, they are watching after the starters are taken out. On that note, here are my 5 things to watch from the Giants — taking into account both starters and backups — to keep the casual viewer interested for the full 60 minutes.
- The New Secondary
This secondary has been receiving heavy praise despite not even being on the field together in a real game. Stevie Brown is coming back from a torn ACL and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is the key new addition alongside CB Walter Thurmond and S Quintin Demps. The starters shouldn’t see too much run, but hopefully DRC will be out there as long as highly touted rookie Sammy Watkins is. Look for an attempted deep connection to Watkins early to get the crowd excited.
We all know who is the starter is. We all know that the starter had a severe ankle sprain in the season finale and had his first major surgery in the offseason. This is where the backup quarterback battle becomes extremely important.
Nassib, the former 4th round pick out of Syracuse, has had a very up and down camp thus far. Fortunately for him, he is the Giants favorite behind Eli. With the new offense being installed, Painter loses the ‘familiarity’ upper hand.
These two should have plenty of time to show off their skills and knowledge of the West Coast offense tonight. Curtis Painter has more years in the league, but the Giants are anxious for Nassib to prove his worth in game action.
- Running Backs
With the devastating news of David Wilson’s neck burner in practice this past week, the depth of the running back position is now even more in question. The Giants went out and signed Rashad Jennings from Oakland who is without a doubt the number one guy. He is 29, but has little tread on those tires, and possesses the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield too. Giants’ fans know what Jennings is about just from watching him at Met Life last year.
The Giants are familiar with Hillis from last season, and they’re well aware he’s mostly part of the equation due to his competency in pass protection, and a depth piece. Where it gets interesting is Michael Cox and Andre Williams. Cox, who was a 7th round pick out of UMass last year, got very little playing time due to the amount of running backs on the squad last year. He now has a huge chance to prove he belongs, especially given Wilson’s neck.
You may not know Andre Williams yet, but you will. This year’s fourth round pick was the NCAA leader in rushing, the winner of the Doak Walker Award (best running back in the nation), and a Heisman Trophy finalist. He is a solid 230 pounds, but he runs like he is 210. He is known for having a great stiff arm and will never shy away from contact. However, with all the news of running backs being involved in the Giants passing game under McAdoo, his 10 receptions in four years of college ball may have some feeling a little uneasy. Watch for him to prove his doubters wrong with some screens and swing passes. Williams has been getting the bulk of the goal line carries in camp as well.
- The Tight Ends
Tight end may come with the most uncertainty out of all positions on this roster. There are five options on the depth chart, and you should see at least four of them tonight — with rookie Xavier Grimble not making the trip. Larry Donnell is No. 1 at this moment, and he’s impressed not only the coaches, but team leader safety Antrel Rolle as well.
McAdoo, a former TE coach, loves to spread the ball around to his tight ends. And and as I mentioned above, they will be lined up all over the field. Be on the lookout for passing formations that call for more than one tight end lined up split off the line. Adrien Robinson is buried at the bottom of the depth chart right now, but the Giants should send plenty of traffic in his direction this evening.
- Devon Kennard
I have never heard praise like Kennard has been receiving coming out of Giants camp. It seems like after every practice the beat writers are telling tales of a Kennard hit on a ball carrier. He has been getting reps with the first team and may be out there for plenty of snaps tonight. With the uncertainty of Beason’s comeback, Kennard could very well become a huge part of this defense and a starter from day one. Be on the lookout for number 59.
Obviously the gelling of new offensive line parts is critical as well. Just be aware that you may see a lot of shuffling tonight along the line, trying to get the coaches a better understanding of who can play where if needed. Like tight end, there are positions on this line that have plenty of uncertainty, most notably LT and RG. Let’s just hope whatever combination is out there can protect the quarterbacks and opening up a few holes for the running backs here and there.
There it is, Giants Nation. Have fun watching the first of many this NFL season. Show us something special roster hopefuls…
Players that did not make the trip: DE Robert Ayers, LB Jon Beason, LT William Beatty, WR Odell Beckham Jr., TE Xavier Grimble, G Eric Herman WR/KR Trindon Holliday, CB Bennett Jackson, CB Trumaine McBride, DT Mike Patterson, LB Spencer Paysinger, and RB David Wilson