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Big Blue View mailbag: Odell Beckham, safeties, offensive line, more

What is on your mind this week?

Several young players are battling Daniel Fells for a roster spot.
Several young players are battling Daniel Fells for a roster spot.
Steven Ryan-USA TODAY Sports

It is Saturday, which means it is time to open the Big Blue View mailbag and see what comes spilling out. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions this week.

Jeffrey Itell asks (via e-mail): Assuming Nat Berhe recovers and play well and the same for Cooper Taylor, could the Giants' thinness at slot corner be masked by playing more three-safety sets (rather than three corners)? Or is that just a coverage devised to take advantage of the skill sets of Deon Grant and Antrel Rolle?

Ed says: The three-safety set was a favorite of former defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. We haven't seen any of that from new/old defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. We've seen nickel sets with Trumaine McBride, Josh Gordy or Mike Harris lined up in the slot. It doesn't appear to be part of the plan, and I can't say I'm surprised. The Giants are not 100 percent sure they have two quality safeties, much less three. Jeffrey, I think you are right that the skills of Grant and Rolle were a big of the reason for the use, and success, of that package. This is a different team that doesn't appear to have the personnel for that look.

William Moran asks (via e-mail): Why is no one considering Brett Jones at Center and Richburg back to guard? This Jones guy seems like he has the skills to play center, they were high on him as the number one lineman in the CFL when they brought him in, give the kid some reps.

Ed says: Thanks for the question, William. First and foremost, the Giants spent a valuable second round pick because they thought Richburg was their center of the future. He played guard last year because injuries and the retirement of Chris Snee made that a necessity, not because he's good at it. Richburg is a center, wants to be a center and the Giants believe he will be an excellent one. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty loves what he has seen from Richburg this spring:

"He really has embraced the center position because you are the voice of everybody to start out and the quarterback may change things, but you are telling everyone what to do. I think that Weston has a little bit of boss man in him and he likes that," Flaherty said.

As for Jones, let's realize that CFL competition isn't close to NFL competition, and the rules are vastly different. Jones appears to be a talented player, and he's an exceedingly nice young man who is very pleasant to speak with. He has a very steep learning curve, though. He has been working as the third center behind Richburg and Dallas Reynolds, and has also been taking reps at guard.

Down the road this kid might be a player. Anyone expecting him to contribute right away, however, is probably going to be disappointed.

Ed says: Thanks for the question, Jeffrey. I don't want to write off Daniel Fells after the veteran had a nice season for the Giants in 2014. In the bold prediction department, though, I'd say there is a better than even chance right now that Cunningham takes a roster spot away from the veteran. The kid has been impressive at every practice I have attended. As for Lacosse, I think he and Will Tye of Stony Brook are vying for a practice squad spot. As of now, my view is that Lacosse is leading the race.

Ed says: Thanks, William. I addressed this to an extent on Friday. I truly hope, and sincerely want to believe, that Beckham is not headed down Diva Boulevard. I don't think he is, but some of the stuff that has happened recently raises the Diva radar. What I really think is he is a very young man who has been thrown into this incredible stardom and he still is growing up, maturing and learning to handle it. I think he made a mistake Friday by not addressing the media after the Giants' PR staff specifically let reporters know he would be available, but I think you have to cut him some slack. He's frustrated by the hamstring situation, he's not used to being the target of some of his teammates' good-natured humor and he's human. I do hope it doesn't become a thing where Beckham feels separated from his teammates. I think he has a tremendous organization to help guide him, a great, caring coach in Tom Coughlin and a willing mentor in Victor Cruz. If the Giants can't keep the guy grounded, it probably can't be done.

Ed says: These are both very interesting situations, and it could well be that this is more or less the rest of the league offering up an indictment on the Giants for giving each of these players four seasons to develop. I don't know that for a fact, though.

I know that I understand Jerrel Jernigan still being out of work more than I understand Jacquian Williams not having found a new team. In four years, Jernigan had one good three-game stretch when the Giants had no one else to throw the ball to. He can't play outside as a receiver. He has proven to not really be reliable handling the ball as a punt or kickoff returner. He doesn't help on kick or punt coverage. All he can do is play the slot. If you think you have guys who can do that AND contribute in other areas then you don't use a roster spot on Jernigan. With the current Giants, for example, both Preston Parker and Dwayne Harris offer far more to the roster than Jernigan would.

As for Williams, I'm a little stumped. Let me admit up front that I was never a Williams fan and never understood the Giants' fascination with him. He was/is an athletic player, but his play never matched his physical tools. Unless the concussion that ended his season last year is a long-term concern I don't understand why someone in the league hasn't given him an opportunity, though.

As for the "playing young guys" part of that my belief is that some fans looking for things to criticize have always blamed Coughlin for a problem that didn't exist. Look at all the young guys who will get time this season. This is the third year in a row a rookie will start on the offensive line. At least one rookie will start at safety. Lots of rookies played significant snaps last year. Coughlin doesn't dislike rookies. He dislikes players who don't know their assignments. All coaches are that way. Earn Coughlin's trust, you get to play.

Ed says: Who knows what Jason Pierre-Paul will do if he and the Giants don't reach a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline, which I honestly believe is extremely unlikely. I seriously doubt Pierre-Paul would hold out and miss games. Might he play the 'skip the first couple of days of camp' card? Possibly.

As for my feelings about the defensive line rotation, it's like this. At defensive tackle, you have Johnathan Hankins and a bunch of question marks. I think Jay Bromley could be a quality pass rush guy on the inside, and I love the signing of Kenrick Ellis as a run stuffer. We have to see, though. At defensive end, I think there are a lot of quality guys there but most of them are limited. Robert Ayers and Damontre Moore are primarly pass rushers who are liabilities against the run. George Selvie is primarily a run stopper. Owamagbe Odighizuwa is a rookie, thus a complete unknown. Kerry Wynn might be the only all-around guy, but is he good enough at either skill to earn playing time.

I think there is potential in both groups. I think we have to see it on the field, though.

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