Eli Manning and Kevin Gilbride know the Giants' playbook. Does anybody else? Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE
Eli Manning will, of course, still be the quarterback for the New York Giants in 2012. When Manning and the Giants begin training camp at UAlbany Friday afternoon, however, it will be obvious that much around him has changed.
The Giants' 2012 offense will not be the same group they won the Super Bowl with last February. Not even close. There are significant changes in every facet of the unit that Manning will command this season.
Let's summarize those changes.
Running Back -- Ahmad Bradshaw is still the No. 1 back, but his supporting cast is not the same. Brandon Jacobs is in San Francisco. David Wilson was drafted in the first round to take his place. DJ Ware faces stiff competition from Da'Rel Scott, Andre Brown and undrafted free agent Joe Martinek for both his job as the third-down back and his spot on the roster. [SB Nation New York]
Wide Receiver -- Manning threw for a career-best 4,933 yards during the regular season a year ago, and the amazing weapons he had at wide receiver were a big part of that. The Giants have to be holding their breath a little when it comes to the wide receiver position right now. Hakeem Nicks broke his foot during the offseason. While he promises to be ready to go for the regular season, the Giants have enough experience with foot injuries to know there are no guarantees he won't be limited. Victor Cruz, record-setting year or not, needs to prove he was not a one-year wonder. Third receiver Mario Manningham is now a San Francisco 49er. Reuben Randle was drafted in the second round, but how often do rookies contribute quickly in the Giants' complex passing attack? Ramses Barden, Jerrel Jernigan and Domenik Hixon all have much to prove. [SB Nation New York]
Tight End -- Jake Ballard, after a surprising 2011 season, is gone. He wasn't going to play this year anyway due to a knee injury, and got snapped up by the New England Patriots when the Giants tried to pass him through waivers. Travis Beckum will start the season on PUP. Martellus Bennett brings his reputation as an under-achiever from the Dallas Cowboys. Adrien Robinson was drafted in the fourth round and, after catching only 29 passes at Cincinnati, he would seem to be a project. Bear Pascoe provides at least one familiar face for Manning. [SB Nation New York]
Offensive Line -- Kareem McKenzie is gone, and David Diehl moves across the line to take that spot. Will Beatty returns from injury and is being counted on to reclaim the left tackle spot. David Baas is in his second season at center, and his first with a full offseason, and should be better. Chris Snee hopes to be healthy and return to form at right guard. At left guard, Kevin Boothe is the starter and will be challenged by Mitch Petrus. Reality is, the Giants won the Super Bowl last season despite poor play from the line. It has to be better this season, doesn't it? [SB Nation New York]
Looking at the 2012 Giants' offense is sort of exciting, and nerve-wracking, at the same time. Maybe like your first date with a hot girl -- the possibilities are endless, but you have no idea where this is actually going to go.
The Giants have Bradshaw, Nicks and Cruz for Manning to rely on as go-to guys. How, and whether, the rest of the pieces fit well around that core group is anybody's guess. For the Giants to succeed, many of them will have to find a way to fit.