The New York Giants get back to work today after their bye week, beginning preparations for Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium against the 0-6 Miami Dolphins. Let's look at five players for the Giants who have not made much, if any, impact thus far but who can be difference-makers in the final 10 games of the season.
1. Justin Tuck -- The Giants' defensive captain has only played in two of six games thus far, battling neck and groin injuries. He has 1.5 sacks and six tackles, but we have not seen the real Tuck even when he has been on the field. We can talk about Jason Pierre-Paul or anyone else on that defensive unit, but when he is healthy the two-time Pro Bowler is the team's best defensive player. No offense to Dave Tollefson, who has played well and gives everything he has on every play, but Tollefson on the field and Tuck in street clothes on the sideline is a huge issue for the Giants. You think the Giants would have given up so many big running plays with Tuck on the field? I don't. He is one of the best run-playing defensive ends in football. The Giants need him healthy, and making plays off the edge. Not waving a towel from the sidelines.
Justin Tuck-Top 100 NFL Players of 2010-2011 (via jc72la5stout)
2. Prince Amukamara -- We have already spent a great deal of time in recent weeks talking about this one. The first-round pick from Nebraska only practiced twice before breaking his foot, and it isn't really fair to expect him to hit the field Sunday in Miami playing sparkling, perfect football. The Giants, though, desperately need Amukamara to be able to give them something during the final two months of the season. It is painfully obvious that the Giants need to get Deon Grant out of the deep safety spot he has been forced to play, and they can't do that until someone like Amukamara steps up and allows the Giants to get Antrel Rolle out of the slot and back to his normal safety position.
3. Da'Rel Scott -- The Giants are slooooooooooooowly trying to find ways to incorporate the speedy seventh-round pick from the University of Maryland into their offense. I know fans want more NOW, and watching rookie DeMarco Murray of Dallas run for 253 yards Sunday against St. Louis won't improve anyone's patience. Remember when Ahmad Bradshaw was a rookie back in 2007? It was the final few games of the season when Bradshaw began to see the football a few times a game, and the final week of the season against Buffalo (17 carries, 151 yards) when he finally had a breakout game. Scott might be following a similar path, and if they can find a way to get just a couple of big plays from him the rest of the way that might make a huge difference in the season.
4. Mario Manningham -- Manningham has 18 catches on the season, including five in each of the past two games. In reality, though, he has been pretty quiet while Hakeem Nicks is blossoming into a star and Victor Cruz is achieving rock star status with the MetLife Stadium faithful. Manningham has not gotten more than 56 yards receiving in any game this season, after finishing 2010 with three straight 100+ yard receiving games. Despite all the hysteria about the other Giants' receivers, Manningham is still the team's premier home-run threat. The Giants need him and Eli Manning to hook up for a few of those home runs the rest of the way.
Ultimate mario manningham Highlights HD (via benyang01)
5. Brandon Jacobs -- The big back has missed the last two games with swelling in his knee. Truthfully, I really don't know what to make of jacobs' role -- or lack thereof -- with the Giants, even when he is healthy. He has carried the ball just 38 times in four games, 16 of those against St. Louis. That is the only game this season in which he has had double-digit carries. Bradshaw is the home run hitter and the No. 1 back, and deservedly so. Jacobs, though, brings a physical presence and an emotional edge to the Giants' offense they don't get anywhere else. They need to get him healthy and find a way to take better advantage of it.