'Friday Five' With Pat Traina, Bye Week Edition

Well, it's Friday and Pat Traina of Inside Football and I are not letting a silly thing like a bye week for the New York Giants stop us from our weekly 'Friday Five' segment. This week, I ask Pat about some of the returning players, which player she thinks is the biggest surprise thus far for the Giants, and I try once again to get Pat to commit to whether or not she believes the Giants are a playoff team.

Be sure to check Pat's site for my answers to her questions. Pat's answers to mine are after the jump.

Ed: Prince Amukamara and Ramses Barden should both begin practicing after the bye week. Which of those two guys, in your mind, has a bigger impact during the second half of the season?

Pat: Amukamara, hands down. While it's going to take him some time to become acclimated back into the defense, I think in the case of Barden, you have Nicks who's playing well and Cruz, who's also playing well, and Ballard, who's been playing well. In addition, we can't forget about Manningham, who while up and down, has been there from the beginning. So which of those guys do you pull passes from in order to accommodate Barden?

In Amukamara's case, I think ultimately he'll move to cover the slot receiver once he gets his feet wet on the outside. That will allow Antrel Rolle to go back to doing what he does best, and that's providing run support.

Ed: At the beginning of the season I asked if you thought the Giants were a playoff team, and you 'deferred.' So, I will ask again. Judging from what you have seen thus far -- from the Giants and the rest of the NFC East -- do you think the Giants make the playoffs?

Pat: I'm going to defer again because the Giants are just now finishing the "soft" part of their schedule. I want to see how they come through the month of November, when they start facing the division leaders, before I offer my "feel" for where this team is heading.

Ed: Another week, a couple more awful breakdowns by the Giants' defense in the Buffalo game. Are you as concerned about why or how these things keep happening as I am?

Pat: To an extent, yes. However, against Buffalo, they did make some adjustments and did clamp down on the big plays after that first quarter. I think many times it's a matter of guys being out of position. I suspect - and this is only my guess - we might see Kiwi move into that nickel linebacker role in place of Jacquian Williams, and I think that could help plug up what's been a shaky run defense.

Ed: Player who has been the most pleasant surprise thus far? The biggest disappointment?

Pat: Biggest surprise is Jake Ballard, no question. I remember last year watching him in camp and not really noticing him as much, so whatever he did in the off-season, he's on pace to surpass Kevin Boss' production from last year. Biggest disappointment is Travis Beckum. Yes, I k now he was injured, but it just seems that every time he comes into the lineup, he has a mental hiccup, and that's left us at Inside Football to question whether he possesses the necessary football smarts to be successful at this level.

Ed: There is so much talk every week about the offensive line, communication, all that stuff. A lot of that revolves around having a new center. Can you assess the job done by David Baas thus far?

Pat: It hasn't been bad, but it's not quite on the level as what we've seen from Shaun O'Hara, who orchestrated the line calls brilliantly. Baas has better physical tools, I think, than O'Hara, but he is still working to grasp the playbook. He has made a lot of strides, but there's still a bit more of a ways to go, I think.

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