New York Giants

New York Giants Training Camp To-Do List

Patricia TrainaContributor IJuly 21, 2014

New York Giants Training Camp To-Do List

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Despite having a solid spring, the New York Giants are far from having settled some pressing questions that continue to exist on their roster.

    Starting on Monday, July 21, when the players report for training camp for their conditioning test, and through the next six weeks, the team is hoping to cross off several “to-do” items from their list, which of course means settling some roster issues. 

    Let’s break down the top six question marks for the Giants and explore what direction each might take.

Get the New Offense Functioning Smoothly

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    After holding a dozen practices, all of which were non-contact by nature, the Giants offense, which is converting to a hybrid West Coast style under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, will need to expedite building on the basics that were installed in the spring and get things up and running as smoothly as possible. 

    "We've made progress," added head coach Tom Coughlin at the close of last month's minicamp when asked about the offense. "We're not there, but we're making progress."

    In a perfect world, the Giants will get everything installed and perfected by the end of the preseason. That might be a little too aggressive of a goal, though what will help is that they have an extra week of training camp to go along with an extra preseason game.

    It remains to be seen if Coughlin plans to allocate more practice time to the projected starters to help expedite that process.

    Look for McAdoo and the revamped offensive coaching staff to be extra active in coaching the players this summer.

Find a Starting Tight End

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    What’s interesting about the Giants’ tight end position is that according to the historical records kept by Pro Football Reference, the last time New York had the same starting tight end in back-to-back opening-day games was 2006-2007, when Jeremy Shockey graced the field for them.

    Since then, it’s been a different face or combination of faces, none of whom have really come close to matching Shockey’s early career production. 

    This year, the Giants will be looking for their next tight end. The current choices, which include Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells and Xavier Grimble, none of whom have shown elite receiving skills. 

    The Giants could also potentially add a veteran from another team who is cut during camp if none of the five guys currently on the roster step up and distinguish themselves.

    A team to keep an eye on for a potential option at tight end for the Giants is Arizona.

    According to the depth chart found at Ourlads, the Cardinals have a deep group at tight end that includes John Carlson, former Giant Jake Ballard, Rob Housler and rookie Troy Niklas.

Settle the Offensive Line

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    This past offseason, one of the top “to-do” items on general manager Jerry Reese’s list was to address the offensive line.

    Reese did just that, adding guard Geoff Schwartz and center J.D. Walton, both of whom are penciled in to start this year.

    Reese also signed some veteran depth in Charles Brown and John Jerry, both of whom can play guard or tackle, and he drafted Weston Richburg, the team’s future at center, in the second round this year.

    Despite all of these moves, the identity of the Giants’ starting offensive line is no closer to being resolved than it was at the start of the 2014 free-agency period.

    The reason for this is twofold. One, right guard Chris Snee, who is hoping to return after missing most of last season following surgeries on both hips and his elbow, appeared to have a setback in the spring with his elbow that could prevent him from achieving that goal.

    According to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, Snee is scheduled to meet with the Giants' front office on Monday regarding his future, a future that, per Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, could include retirement.

    The other concern on the offensive line is left tackle Will Beatty, who missed the entire spring while recovering from a broken leg suffered in the regular-season finale last year.

    Beatty, who last spoke to reporters in late April, is believed to be on track for the start of training camp, but when head coach Tom Coughlin was asked about Beatty’s status at the end of last month’s mandatory minicamp, he didn’t sound so certain.

    “He seems like he’s making progress,” Coughlin told reporters.

    When pressed further as to whether Beatty would be ready for the start of camp, Coughlin said, “That’s what we’re hoping for, yeah.”

    Fortunately, the Giants have options if one or both of those players isn’t available.

    At right guard, Brandon Mosley and John Jerry (assuming he’s recovered from his offseason knee scope) are projected to battle for that spot. Rookie Weston Richburg, who worked at both guard spots in the spring, is another option. 

    At left tackle, Charles Brown, who took the majority of the snaps there during the spring, appears to be the first option.

    The team could also look to pick up a veteran off the waiver wire as training camp cuts are made if none of those options offers peace of mind.   

Determine If Ryan Nassib Can Be the No. 2 Quarterback

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Based on early indications from the spring practices, the Giants appear to want to keep two quarterbacks on their roster this year.

    While all signs are pointing to the second quarterback behind starter Eli Manning being Ryan Nassib, the second-year man still has a ways to go before his promotion from third-string becomes official.

    The problem with Nassib, according to quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf, wasn’t so much his grasp of the offense. Rather, it was Nassib’s ability to make the throws.

    “I think he’s done a great job, especially in our no-huddle periods of just being able to get guys lined up,” Langsdorf told reporters last month after the minicamp concluded.

    “He’s just got to keep working on executing, whether it’s a throw or timing with the receivers. He’s just got to continue to work with those guys, but he’s been very good to this point in terms of studying and learning.”

Find New Return Specialists

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    Safety Quintin Demps will be in the mix for a return specialist job.
    Safety Quintin Demps will be in the mix for a return specialist job.Associated Press

    In a statement that should surprise absolutely no one who followed the Giants, team co-owner John Mara, in an interview with Steve Serby of the New York Post, was blunt about the performance of his team’s return units.

    “We really haven’t had a dynamic return game in quite some time,” Mara said.

    He’s not kidding. Last year, the Giants kick return unit averaged 21.2 yards per return, tying them for 27th in the NFL (with Seattle).

    The punt return unit, meanwhile, averaged 7.2 yards per return, good enough for 26th in the league.

    The last time the Giants had a decent kickoff returner was in 2012, when running back David Wilson, as the team’s primary kickoff returner, helped the Giants finish tied for sixth in the NFL (with the Jets), with a 26.2-yard average return.

    As for the punt return game, you’d have to go back a lot further to find the last time the Giants didn’t rank at or near the bottom of the league in average yards per return.

    How far back, you ask? Try 2009, when the Giants were tied for sixth (with Dallas) in the league with a 10.9 average. Those days, receiver Domenik Hixon was the team’s primary punt returner.

    While the two return specialist jobs probably won’t generate as much discussion as some of the other camp competitions, it’s still very much an important one if the Giants, whose special teams finished 28th overall according to Football Outsiders, hope to improve their starting field position this year.

Settle the Starting Fullback Spot

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    If the spring practices were any indication, the role of the fullback in the Giants’ new offense is going to be very different.

    That is, of course, assuming a pure fullback has a role in the new offense.

    During the spring, John Conner and Henry Hynoski, two very good pure fullbacks, really didn’t have much to do during the practices.

    That could very well be a result of the practices being non-contact, as the fullback’s primary role is to block, something they couldn’t really do in the spring.

    What will be interesting to watch is not only the battle between Conner and Hynoski, but also the possibility that the Giants might eliminate carrying a pure fullback in favor of a tight end or a hybrid running back/fullback like Peyton Hillis.

    The likelihood of the Giants not carrying a pure fullback is very slim—one from the Hynoski-Conner group is almost certain to make the 53-man roster, especially if the Giants plan to maintain a commitment to the running game.  

    “You like to use the fullback. The way I was raised, a fullback’s a big part of the things you do,” offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo told reporters on the final day of the mandatory minicamp. 

    Based on that statement, it’s easy to assume McAdoo was speaking about either Hynoski or Conner, but again, “a fullback” could also refer to a tight end lined up at the fullback spot.

     

    Patricia Traina is the senior editor for Inside Football. All stats from NFL.com,unless otherwise noted. All quotes obtained firsthand, unless otherwise noted. Follow me on Twitter, @Patricia_Traina.

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