Happy Father's Day, everyone. Before your head off to enjoy your day, here are five things I think I think about the New York Giants heading into this week's mandatory mini-camp.
1. I think it is unfair, and unrealistic, to expect rookie fifth-round draft pick Devon Kennard to be ready to be a starting middle linebacker in Week 1. I am not saying it can't, or won't, happen if Jon Beason is not able to return -- I am just saying not to expect it. Kennard has not played middle linebacker since 2010, having been deployed as both an outside linebacker and hand in the ground defensive end at USC since the middle of that season. Kennard even admitted after the Giants drafted him that he would be more comfortable staying on the outside. Playing in a real NFL game is a whole lot different than running through non-contact practices in shorts and a t-shirt. Asking Kennard to be prepared to call defensive signals, line up veteran teammates and make plays Week 1 of his rookie season is a tall order. The Giants obviously like what they see, and that is a good thing. If Beason isn't ready to go when the season starts I think it is far more likely that veteran Jameel McClain handles the middle linebacker duties in the short term.
2. Speaking of Beason, I think you would be right to worry about how much impact his broken foot will have on his play when he does return. The Giants have been down this road before. Two years ago, Hakeem Nicks broke his foot early in OTAs and was never right physically after that. Last year, Henry Hynoski suffered a knee injury in OTAs and Jason Pierre-Paul opted for back surgery. Both returned for Week 1, but neither player ever got close to their prior standards. Beason recently spoke about how valuable real offseason training had been after years of dealing with injury rehab. Well, his offseason has once again been interrupted by injury rehab. Beason's athleticism, especially in pass coverage is already in question after Achilles and knee surgeries. A foot injury, if it lingers at all, won't help.
3. Ryan Nassib is struggling to establish himself as an NFL quarterback, and I think Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone must have seen this coming. Marrone, of course, was head coach at Syracuse while Nassib was starring there, but when he got the Buffalo job Marron passed on the opportunity to select Nassib to be his franchise quarterback. Nassib struggled mightily with accuracy and decision-making during his first training camp and preseason, and is apparently having the same issues in his second season.
4. With the exception of cornerback, I think the Giants are now very thin on defense. The Giants are fortunate that Beason's injury isn't season-ending, but right now the depth at linebacker, safety and the defensive line has to be considered questionable. A couple of injuries at any of those positions could be problematic.
5. I think I am really looking forward to attending this mini-camp, especially since we will have access on the final day to talk with assistant coaches. Three straight days of watching practice should clarify many things about the state of the Giants heading into training camp.