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Roster analysis: Looking at the safeties

Let's continue our occasional roster analysis of the Giants by looking at the safety positions.

Barring injuries, there is little doubt the starting duo will be the same as it was last year -- Will Demps and Gibril Wilson.

Both are talented players who underachieved last season.

Wilson showed promise in his first two seasons with the Giants, but slid backwards last season making only 74 tackles. He made 90 in 2005. He is a play-making type, though, and you have to hope that he will flourish with more freedom in the system employed by new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Demps disappointed throughout most of late season after signing as a free agent, missing tackles and blowing assignments. He played better late in the year, though, and finished with a career-high 74 unassisted tackles. You have to hope the improvement continues.

Most likely, the real competition will be for two backup slots. There are three viable candidates, and unless the Giants figure out a way to keep five safeties somebody is out of luck. Let's look.

• In the red corner. James Butler. A third-year pro out of Georgia Tech Butler has 53 solo tackles in two seasons as a backup safety with the Giants.

• In the blue corner. Jason Bell. A seven-year veteran, Bell has experience and the ability to play both safety and corner.

• In the white corner. Michael Johnson. The Giants got Johnson in the seventh round, even though he was projected as a mid-round pick. Some think he has the ability to start eventually.

MY VIEW: You can make a solid argument for keeping any of these three. Butler has been an adequate fill-in, Bell has versatility and Johnson has upside.

PREDICTION: If they can't keep all five, Johnson starts the season on the practice squad.