As the New York Giants open their 2011 training camp I would be remiss if I did not step back from writing about the bevy of news reports that have been flying around the team the past few days, and offer a preview of training camp and the season to follow.
Here are 10 questions facing the Giants as they prepare for their first practice.
1. Will Plaxico Burress Be A Giant?
This, of course, is the question we have been debating for months. Burress and coach Tom Coughlin are dining together at some point today, and we will just have to see where this goes after that. To be honest, efforts at a reconciliation have already gone much farther than I ever thought they would. Will they end up with Burress wearing No. 17 for the Giants again? I think we will find out in the next 24-48 hours.
2. What's The Deal With Osi Umenyiora?
Nobody really knows the answer to that one, either. Everybody knows he isn't happy. Nobody knows for certain when -- or if -- he will show up. Trade him? Cut him? Play hardball with him and let him hold out if he refuses to play for his current contract. Let's see what Osi's mood is when he surfaces, and how the Giants proceed.
3. The Offensive Line
How will the revamped unit fare, and does offensive line coach Pat Flaherty have enough time to mold his new group into a cohesive unit. The Giants look like they will start Will Beatty at left tackle, David Diehl at left guard, free-agent acquisition David Baas at center, Chris Snee at right guard and Kareem McKenzie at right tackle. No green-horns in that group, but a unit that needs to come together quickly for the Giants.
4. How Will The Wide Receivers Shake Out?
Whether or not they bring Burress back, of course, has a huge impact here. So does the status of Steve Smith's knee, something we should know more about soon. Can Ramses Barden finally emerge? Can Domenik Hixon make the team? Can Victor Cruz reprise the great training camp he had a season ago, and force his way into the rotation? Can third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan make an impact as a rookie, at least on special teams?
5. Are they OK At Defensive Tackle?
The Giants lost Barry Cofield to the Washington Redskins via free agency and are parting with Rocky Bernard. Along with Chris Canty, they have only last season's second-round pick, Linval Joseph, and this year's second-round pick, Marvin Austin. Both are talented, but unproven. Don't be surprised if the Giants add a veteran free agent to the rotation soon.
6. Who Will Punt?
If you look in the dictionary, 'inconsistent' is now defined in two words -- Matt Dodge. As a rookie punter, Dodge was the epitome of inconsistency, dropping snaps, booming some punts, nearly whiffing on others, kicking the ball all over the lot. The Giants never knew what they were going to get from Dodge, and every Giants fan knows what it eventually cost the team. The Giants have been kicking the tires -- and maybe checking the engines and transmissions -- on veteran punters like Brad Maynard and Matt Turk. Dodge's job appears to be in serious jeopardy.
7. How Much Will Ahmad Bradshaw Cost?
It seems pretty obvious at this point that the Giants are competing against themselves for Bradshaw's services. It will be interesting to see how much guaranteed money the Giants are willing to give Bradshaw. Probably not the $21 million DeAngelo Williams got from Carolina.
8. Are They Good Enough At Linebacker?
Well, right now it looks like they are going to give third-year man Clint Sintim an opportunity on the strong side, and they have a plethora of young, unproven backups. So, the answer to that is ... well ... who knows? It still would not be stunning to see a veteran outside linebacker brought in, at least for depth.
9. Which Rookie Will Have The Biggest Impact?
Realistically, considering all of the missed time due to the lockout, it will be difficult for any of the Giants rookies to step in and contribute immediately. Jerrel Jernigan has a chance, if he can win the kick and punt return jobs. No. 1 pick Prince Amukamara is a guy the Giants want to get on the field as fast as possible. If Deon Grant signs elsewhere there might be an opening for sixth-round pick Tyler Sash. It also looks like the Giants will need Marvin Austin to play some right away.
10. Is There A Better NFL Story Anywhere Than Mark Herzlich?
Simply, the answer to that is 'no.'