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Giants' 2014 Training Camp Preview: Can Chris Snee be counted on?

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Chris Snee's status is one of the big question marks for the Giants heading into training camp.

Chris Snee
Chris Snee
USA TODAY Sports

We began our look at 'elephants in the room' as the New York Giants open their 2014 season by talking about what the future might hold for head coach Tom Coughlin. We continue that theme by keeping things in the family, turning our attention to Chris Snee, Coughlin's son-in-law.

Snee is part of our 'elephants in the room' series because, entering his 11th season, NFL mortality is settling upon him and whether or not he can actually contribute on the field in 2014 is an unknown right now. If he can't contribute how, exactly, do the Giants replace him?

The 32-year-old Snee has been a rock on the Giants' offensive line since being drafted in the second round in 2004, the same year Coughlin became head coach. Snee has three Pro Bowls, one All-Pro selection and two Super Bowl rings on his resume. He was the best player on what was arguably the best line in football and maybe the best line the Giants ever had when David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Snee and Kareem McKenzie were together.

Snee made the Pro Bowl as recently as 2012, but the truth is his body has been breaking down for the past couple of years.

He started all 16 games in 2012 and played exceptionally well, compiling a +14.0 Pro Football Focus rating while allowing only two sacks. After the season, however, Snee had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip.

He played only three games in 2013 before a torn labrum in his right hip shut him down. He had surgery to repair that, and to repair a troublesome elbow.

Snee took a $4 million pay cut to try one more time with the Giants, promising that both he and the team would know before the regular season began if his body was going to hold up for one final season. Snee said he was "very optimistic and positive" entering the offseason program, but didn't even make it through OTAs before his elbow acted up and he had to be shut down.

The plan has been to see if Snee can get healthy enough to begin training camp. Last month GM Jerry did not sound optimistic. Reese said "the jury's still out," adding that Snee was "not doing great this spring."

"We'll see in the next few weeks if he's going to be able to help us or not. I think he will make a decision one way or the other. We'll see where that goes."

A recent report from NJ.com said that the Giants believe Snee is "still on track" to be on the field when training camp begins next week at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J.

Coughlin, as should be expected, still has faith in Snee. "He’s played enough, we can get him healthy and get him right back to where he was. We know what we have," Coughlin said during mini-camp

Despite Coughlin's confidence and the "on track" proclamations it would not be the biggest shock in the world if one of the first pieces of news we hear from the Giants when players report on Monday is a retirement announcement from Snee. That is not a prediction, just a statement that if it happens it should not come as a shock.

Even if Snee does make it to training camp, how long will he last? It certainly isn't encouraging that his body betrayed him during non-contact practices in shorts and t-shirts. Will his body hold up once the hitting starts? After both playing and practicing very little since the 2012 season, and being unable to train properly, does Snee still have what it takes to hold up against players like Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions and other top-flight defensive tackles?

What is Snee plays, but he is in and out of the lineup? Or, if he is on the old Ahmad Bradshaw "I will just show up on Sunday" plan?

Can the Giants afford the uncertainty? Can the offensive line function properly that way? Offensive lines are at their best when the pieces are the same each week. Part of the issue last season was that there combinations on the line were different nearly every week. Injuries, of course, are unpredictable. Logic, though, would indicate that at this point there's a good chance Snee won't play 16 games.

The Giants, of course, know all of these things. To their credit, they are not going into this blind. They do have a succession plan. John Jerry, former starting right guard with the Miami Dolphins, Brandon Mosley and rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg could all be part of that.

When O'Hara and Seubert began to break down a few years back, the Giants didn't hesitate to move on. Faced with a similar situation with Snee, they have chosen to give him what will likely be a final opportunity. Did they make the right choice? Will it work out? Will it backfire?

Nobody knows right now. Thus, it's an elephant in the room.