There are a lot of ways to preview training camp, some more fun than others. Let’s take a fun look at 2018 New York Giants training camp using the alphabet as our guide.
A is for ... Apple. Eli Apple had a miserable 2017, much of it self-inflicted. He showed a much better frame of mind this spring. The Giants need the former first-round pick to play like one.
B is for ... Barkley. Beckham, too. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. The B&B Boys. The bookends to what the Giants hope will be a rebuilt, high-flying offense that causes headaches for opposing defenses.
C is for ... Collins. Landon Collins is entering his fourth season. He is the best player on James Bettcher’s defense, and is developing into that group’s leader.
D is for ... Defense. Can James Bettcher rebuild a Giants’ unit that didn’t get the job done a year ago?
E is for ... Engram. Evan Engram showed tons of promise last season despite perhaps not being utliized in ways that maximized the things he can do best. It will be interesting to see if he takes a step forward this season.
F is for ... Flowers. Ereck Flowers is transitioning from left tackle to right tackle. Will that help his career? Can he do an adequate job protecting Eli Manning from that side? His play will be one of the keys to whether or not the re-structured offensive line is better.
G is for ... Gettleman. When the Giants hired GM Dave Gettleman some thought little would change, that the Giants were just turning to their former pro personnel guy for the sake of continuity. Well, Gettleman’s work thus far has been a vast change from the way Jerry Reese built a roster. Yes, things are much different with Gettleman building the roster.
H is for ... Hernandez. Will Hernandez was the team’s second-round pick, and a key part of the offensive line rebuild. His run-blocking and nasty disposition on the field should be a huge help to the offense.
I is for ... Interception. The Giants threw 13 (13 by Eli Manning and one by Shane Vereen) last season. They had only 13 of their own. Throw less, get more. That’s the ticket.
J ... is for Jackrabbit. This is a big year for Janoris Jenkins. Injury and suspension made 2017 a rough year for him. The Giants need the Jackrabbit they saw in 2016. If they don’t get it, the guaranteed money ($28.8 million) on $62.5 million deal will have been paid, and Jenkins could find himself out the door.
K is for ... Kicking game. Placekicking, punting, returning kicks. The Giants need to be better at all of it.
L is for ... Linebacker. The Giants actually paid attention to the linebacker position this offseason. They moved their best front seven defender, Olivier Vernon, to outside linebacker. They traded for Alec Ogletree. They signed Kareem Martin as a free agent. They used a third-round draft pick on Lorenzo Carter. The Giants? Using real resources to try and build a quality linebacking corps? It’s a brave new world.
M is for Manning. Of course. Could it be for anyone else on the Giants other than Eli Manning. This season comes down to the central question of whether or not the Giants have been right in their judgment that Manning can still play winning football.
N is for ... Nonsense. Last season was filled with it for the Giants. This season should be much different.
O is for ,,, Offense. With Barkley, Beckham, Engram, Sterling Shepard, a revamped offensive line and a new scheme with Pat Shurmur in charge, maybe the Giants will run a real one this season.
P is for ... Punter competition. The Giants are no longer Wing-ing it at this position. Riley Dixon and Taylor Symmank will compete to replace the discarded Brad Wing.
Q is for ... Quarterback. Really, this season is all about the quarterback position for the Giants. Were the Giants right to put their continued faith in Eli Manning? Can Davis Webb or Kyle Lauletta show enough to make the organization believe the quarterback of the future is already on the roster?
R is for ... Rosas. Placekicker Aldrick Rosas has talent. He also had a miserable rookie season. Can he earn, and take advantage of, a second chance?
S is for ... Shurmur. Pat Shurmur was hired to be head coach in part because he impressed the Giants as an “adult.” Sadly, that standard wasn’t really met a year ago. Shurmur’s respectful, professional attitude has been refreshing. Now, can he win games?
T is for ... Tackles. We already mentioned Ereck Flowers. The play of Flowers and Nate Solder will have a lot to do with whether or not the offensive line shows improvement.
U is for ... Underdog. The Giants play in a division with the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. They won three games a year ago and have missed the playoffs five of six years. That makes them a decided underdog. They have won from that position before. Can they turn back the clock and do it again?
V is for ... Vernon. The Giants are moving Olivier Vernon to linebacker, and it’s a move that needs to work. He is their most accomplished pass rusher, and if he can’t get to the quarterback you wonder if the Giants have anyone who can.
W is for ... Webb. Davis Webb was impressive this spring. That, though, doesn’t mean he solidified himself as the team’s quarterback of the future. Will he get on the field this year? What will he look like if and when he does?
X is for ... X-Factor. Something completely unexpected always happens, whether that be a player coming out of nowhere to be a star or a coach and GM ending up fired before the season ends. What will it be this year?
Y is for ... Why does this have to be part of the alphabet? I’ve got nothing. You come up with your own idea.
Z is for ... Zo. As in Lorenzo Carter. The Giants need someone besides Olivier Vernon who can threaten the edge as a pass rusher. The third-round pick has the athletic skills. Now, can he and the Giants develop them?
‘Kudos’ to SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron, the site from which this ideas was, umm, borrowed.