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Six players who are under the gun

The success or failure of the Giants this season will ride largely on the right arm of Eli Manning, and on whether or not Tom Coughlin can reach this team in what may be his last year.

Yet, as training camp approaches there are other players upon whom there will be pressure, and who must perform at a high level for the Giants to have a shot at a third straight playoff appearance.

Here's my list of three players on offense and three on defense who need to step up this season.


David Diehl: Diehl is almost assuredly going to be the replacement for Luke Petitgout at left tackle. It's a position that isn't his best, but it is the most important on the line. If he can't handle the job, it will be difficult for the Giants offense to function.

Jeremy Shockey: Shockey spent another off-season working out most of the time at Miami instead of with his team. Shockey has been good for the Giants the past few seasons, but not often great -- which is what everyone anticipated after his rookie season. Without Tiki Barber to dump passes to, Eli Manning needs Shockey healthy, happy and catching 75-85 passes.

Brandon Jacobs: Everyone around the Giants is anxious to see Jacobs get an opportunity to be the team's featured back. I think he'll do just fine, but if he can't give the Giants a representative ground game they won't win games.


Osi Umenyiora: Two seasons ago Umenyiora collected 14.5 sacks and 70 tackles and looked like he would be a dominant defensive end for the next decade. Last season he slipped back to 6 sacks and 31 tackles. Even more than the aging Michael Strahan, the Giants need the dominating Umenyiora to return.

Mathias Kiwanuka: The second-year pro is moving from defensive end to linebacker. If he makes the move well, the Giants defense could be very good. If he doesn't, the Giants will again be looking at a linebacking corps that isn't good enough.

Gibril Wilson: Wilson, the Giants free safety, was mostly invisible last season. Safeties have to make plays, and the Giants need the fourth-year player to return to the form he showed in his first two seasons.