First let’s talk Burress. I didn’t see him coming back to the Giants and quite frankly I was utterly stunned that he planned a visit. We all know how that ended and the former Super Bowl hero is trading in his blue jersey for a “Sexy Rexy” T-shirt.
All this does is validate the concerns I had been airing (against much opposition) over the past few months. Steve Smith is not healthy. He is not ready to start the season and likely will start the season on PUP (meaning he is ineligible to play until after WEEK 6).
I never doubted his ability, or his value to this team when healthy. But this isn’t Madden. Players don’t heal from injuries in a neat and clean timeframe determined by a computer and then return to action immediately without a hangover. The Steve Smith you know and love isn’t a lucrative contract signing away. He is physically unattainable for an undetermined amount of time. The best case scenario at this point is to let him take the field mid season if he’s physically ready. There he can be a much needed reinforcement for an offense that will likely be missing at least one playmaker because of ailment.
Therefore, there is a vacancy that needs filling at the top of the Giant’s depth chart. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are both talented, dynamic downfield threats that give the Giants the ability to stretch the field. Their spots at the top of the receiving corps are obviously safe (barring injury). But a possession type receiver is needed.
I project Hixon to be the 3rd receiver on the field more often than not. His primary duties are to bring the return game back to life. The biggest concern was whether or not he could return to his old form after suffering an ACL tear. Thus far in camp, he seems to be showing no lingering signs of his injury.
But the Akron grad is more than just a special teamer. He is nifty and quite agile for his size. His ability to scramble and make defenders miss make him a primary candidate for short hook and curl routes. If defenders are watching the run or the other two big play receiving threats already mentioned, Hixon’s decent hands should be a great bailout for Eli Manning. Like Smith, he can also go deep and threaten a big aerial gain.
Hixon will have competition for playing time at WR. Here is one of the spots where I cautiously agree with Jerry Reese’s goal of promoting from within instead of purchasing free agent help.
Victor Cruz gained national attention for himself when he lit up the Jets during the 2nd half of a preseason game in 2010. He had 3 TD grabs. Each of which showed off his ball awareness and sticky hands. He had a great exhibition match and some good days at camp. Good for him, but if that’s all it took to make a team successful, than Sinorice Moss and Ramses Barden would be co-league MVPs.
He hasn’t done anything yet to suggest he was a flash in the pan. But until he does anything to erase the uncertainty, than I’m waiting to anoint him. I project a good camp for him and his battle with the resurging Devin Thomas will make for quite a compelling storyline.
Thomas is valuable because of his play on special teams coverage alone. But with a full camp to learn the playbook, he might be a legitimate contender for serious playing time at WR. He has already turned some heads early on in camp.
Speaking of special teams play, I do not understand why Chase Blackburn is not still in a Giants uniform. It can’t be because he feels he has a better chance to start elsewhere. If there was ever a team in need of competition at linebacker it would be the NYG. He is a great special teams leader and a hard working individual that worked his way up from undrafted training camp body to starter by the end of his rookie season. Unless he is secretly battling a nagging or debilitating injury such as Madison Hedgecock was, he should still be with the team.
On a positive note, I give my vote of confidence to Jonathan Goff. A lot of fans aren’t high on him and I think they are mistaken. He came a long way in 2010 and it only stands to reason that he will continue to progress. He has good size and is a very physical player. He isn’t afraid to fill gaps and meet the ball carrier with force. I like what I see on film and I’m pretty sure that the plan is for him to become a fixture in the middle. ROLB is wide open right now and I don’t think Clint Sintim can step up and take it. He’s still coming off a major ACL injury as well and even when healthy he struggled.
The Week 1 starter here is Mark Herzlich. He is a rookie and an undrafted one at that. But his battle with sarcoma tells me all I need to know about his toughness and determination. Like fellow rookie Marvin Austin, he was slated as a first round pick before off the field circumstances came into play. He obviously was rusty in 2010 but still had a decent season. He should be back to full strength now and I think he will truly be a steal. He will battle with rookies Jaquan Williams and Greg Jones but I see him walking out the winner.
It’s about time I got to the offensive backfield. I see Ahmad Bradshaw returning on Monday. His other options are quickly running out and it seems he’ll have to settle for a smaller sum of money than DeAngelo Williams received in Carolina.
But let’s say Mr. Bradshaw has played his last game as a Giant? Panicking at this thought lets Brandon Jacobs off the hook. What about the largest HB in the league who has accrued multiple 1000 yard seasons only to fall under 850 each during the past two campaigns. Shouldn’t he be reliable as a starter? The answer unfortunately is no. Jacobs running style has grown dangerously conservative and unless we see a fiercer number 27 in 2011, the big back won’t be worth his contract.
More than one HB will need to play at a high level in ’11. At TE, they’ll be lucky to have more than one player at this rate. Right now, Kevin Boss is still a FA. As the frenzy of the big names signing dies down, he is garnering more interests from other clubs. Frankly, he is the physical prototype for the position. He is talented and tough. Eli loves him and the Giants need him.
This is especially true since they failed to go after (at least publicly) Vonta Leach and John Kuhn. Both are big time FBs but were not pursued by a team lacking one of their own. That means that the Giants plan to have Bear Pascoe be a fulltime FB. The only other option currently is undrafted free agent Henry Hynoski out of PITT. He’ll get a shot, but its hard for me to see the Giants putting their run blocking in the hands of such an unproven player.
Lastly, I agree with the offensive line moves. They were painful but necessary. I’d like to see another notable T brought in but Seubert and O’hara were too hampered to be assets.
The first week of training camp will be interesting to say the least. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more on field work. Stay tuned to GFB and we’ll keep you up to speed.
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