Football players get a summer vacation. Football writers, however, never take a break. With that in mind. Pat Traina of 'Inside Football' and I have teamed up for an off-season edition of our regular 'Friday Five' feature. We discuss a wide range of Giants topics this week.
The goodies are after the jump. Be sure to visit Inside Football to see my answers to Pat's questions.
Ed: Perry Fewell has used the three-safety package extensively the past two seasons. Deon Grant is gone, however. Who steps in as the third safety and, could we see the Giants move away from the look w/out Grant?
Pat Fewell said he would like to continue running the three safety set, but I think how much, if any, he does with that will depend on how the rest of the positions shake out. Maybe the linebackers step up to where they don't need to rely as much on the three safeties this year - who knows?
But to answer your question, I think Tyler Sash is the leader for the third safety spot as of right now, though I'd keep an eye on Steve Brown, who looked good in coverage and who took very good angles that got him around the ball on just about every play during the spring workouts.
Ed: You were singing the praises of undrafted free agent wide receiver Brandon Collins during camp. Tell us why, and whether you think he has a real shot at making the team?
Pat: When I look back at my notes from the spring workouts, I see that I wrote down Collins' jersey number a lot. I noted how he made tough catches, used his body to shield the ball from defenders, ran better than average routes, and of course how he was able to gain separation. He just kept jumping out at me, and I was quite pleased when Kevin Gilbride mentioned him as a player who impressed well after I had written about Collins. Do I think he makes the 53-man roster? No (unless injuries wipe out the position), but I do think he could potentially be a practice squad candidate.
Ed: Kevin Gilbride seemed to be concerned about Will Beatty and his back injury. What do we know about Beatty at this point, and is his health a real issue for the Giants entering training camp?
Pat: Well Beatty said it won't be an issue, but I think it has to be a concern, because the back is tricky. You can pull a muscle just by sneezing and be laid up for weeks; similarly, you can twist the wrong way and feel something pull, yet be okay. Now when you have to bend down for about 60-70 plays per week - actually let's back up and figure it will be maybe half of that per day starting with camp - with several added pounds of equipment on your body AND having to push against other heavy objects, that's a concern if someone is coming in with a back that's been weakened.
Remember, Beatty said he got the injury when he came back and tried to do too much right out of the chute. Well guess what? When he comes back to training camp, I don't know that there is going to be time where the coaches ease everyone back into the swing of things, know what I mean?
One last point. Beatty missed several weeks last year once he injured his eye. He's bound to be rusty, and even more so considering he wasn't able to do much work this spring. So yeah, I can see why Gilbride is holding his breath about that left tackle spot. I'm frankly surprised more people haven't talked about this, to be honest.
Ed: Your thoughts on the whole Jake Ballard mess? It really does not seem like a big loss for 2012 because he wasn't going to play, but what about the long-term?
Pat: Well, you're correct - he wasn't going to play this year anyway. But what's a head scratcher about this whole situation is the timing.
The rosters are set at 90 players so would keeping him around until the first roster cuts really that big of a deal? I mean, I've seen instances where a couple of days before the start of camp, the team makes a transaction, so I found the timing here to be odd.
Let's look at this even further. The Giants brought back Rocky Bernard, a player who was with them the last few years and who knows the defense better than say Shaun Rogers, whose elbow injury kept him mostly inactive this spring (and who I'm starting to think never plays a down for the Giants this season, by the way), and rookie Markus Kuhn, whose visa problems set him back more than anyone is willing to admit.
So the Giants are telling us that they couldn't have waited to bring back a veteran like Bernard, who knows the defense and probably could have picked up where he left off despite not having a spring? This way maybe the Patriots don't take a chance on Ballard giving the later timing.
Bottom line is that it was a gamble and it blew up in the Giants' faces.
Ed: Off what you have seen thus far, your biggest concern entering training camp?
Pat: My biggest concern right now is at tight end. You have Martellus Bennett, who says all the right things, but who was set back this spring due to his hamstring. You have Bear Pascoe, who I think will be serviceable, but who has yet to play an entire season at one position (and yes, that's a big deal when you have to run back and forth between the tight ends meeting room and the running backs meeting room). And you have the rookie Adrien Robinson, who missed most of the spring because of school.
Pascoe is the only healthy guy with experience, but again, his situation might have had him gravitating toward that old "jack of all trades, master of none" label. So tight ends coach Mike Pope has a lot of work to do with that group. The good news is that he's the best in the business and I think he'll make players out of those guys. How quickly, though, is another story.
P.S. I know there's optimism abut Travis Beckum returning, but I don't share that optimism. I still believe he'll start the year on PUP and, if he is healthy enough to return this year, which I'm not convinced he will be. Even if he is able to go, who do you bump form the trio of Pascoe (your backup fullback), Robinson (a mid-round draft pick with promise) and Bennett (a key free agent acquisition) to make room for Beckum?