Adam Schein of NFL.com has put together a list of the most important player on each of the NFL's 32 teams. Surprisingly, at least to me, he did not pick quarterback Eli Manning for the New York Giants. Schein chose defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul.
I included the Giants defensive end on my list of the league's nine most indispensable defensive players. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that he would undergo back surgery. That's a huge deal. I don't know if JPP will be back to start the season. And even if he is, the Giants can't bank on him resembling the sack master he was in 2011, as it'll take some time for him to round back into football shape. Big Blue's linebackers are of poor quality. The defensive backs are questionable -- at best. The defense is built around the pass rush, and the pass rush is built around an injured JPP.
Valentine's View: I still believe Manning is the most important Giant. If he goes down to an injury for any length of time the Giants don't win anything. Period. No offense to David Carr or Ryan Nassib, but Manning is the Giants' leading man and without him they go nowhere.
I can, however, see how Schein can make the case for JPP. His health, and effectiveness, is the biggest question facing the Giants as the season begins. He is the one truly dominant player on the Giants' defense and without him playing at his best there is little reason to believe the Giants can be significantly better on defense than they were last season, when they ranked 31st in the league.
More Giants News
The New York Post reports that things are "status quo" between the Giants and free-agent fullback Vonta Leach. Which means unless the Giants are willing to cut someone to free up salary cap space Leach is unlikely to be a Giant. Speaking of Leach, SB Nation's Baltimore Beatdown does not think the fullback will return to the Baltimore Ravens.
ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk offers a preview of the Giants' offensive line heading into training camp. Youngmisuk believes -- as I do -- that to win the right tackle job either Justin Pugh or James Brewer is going to have to be clearly superior to Diehl during training camp.
The veteran Diehl is the front-runner going into camp, but first-round pick Pugh and Brewer will get a chance to prove they can do the job. Diehl has battled through injuries the past couple of seasons but the coaching staff values his experience and versatility. The coaches trust Diehl, and that could end up being the deciding factor. If Pugh or Brewer are going to start, they will have to beat Diehl out.
Clark Judge of CBS Sports has penned an interesting training camp overview. If you are a Mike Mayock fan you will be interested in his thoughts on some of the things to watch around the league during training camp.