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Big Blue View mailbag: Darnay Holmes, Nate Solder, Giants’ leaders, more

The mail’s here!

New York: Coronavirus Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Amazingly, we are into June already. Let’s open the Big Blue View Mailbag and see what questions New York Giants fans have as we roll toward summer.

Bruce Frazer asks: Everything written about Darnay Holmes is positive in all aspects. If it proves true he will be a quality corner for a long time. Do you agree with your fellow writers assessments and how soon could he find significant playing time if he has a good camp?

Ed says: Bruce, there is undoubtedly optimism about Holmes. Let’s temper that a little by remembering that he was a fourth-round pick, 110th overall. That’s only two spots later than the Giants selected Julian Love a year ago, a player they were similarly excited about but who really didn’t play until the final half-dozen games of the season.

Yes, I am among those who are optimistic about Holmes. If he plays well in training camp I think there is a strong possibility he could see reps in the slot when the season begins.

Whether or not DeAndre Baker will be available will also factor into who plays and where they are stationed.

Something else to remember, though, is that this interrupted offseason is going to make things more difficult on rookies because of the lack of snaps.

It also makes it more difficult on those of us who cover the teams to get an idea how players might be used. In a normal offseason the Giants would be holding their mandatory minicamp right now and OTAs would be nearly concluded. We would have had several opportunities to see how players might be deployed. We have had none of that, so we are purely speculating.

More on Holmes:

Jeffrey Mleziva asks: With everything going on in the country, and all sports superstars and celebrities putting out messages, I found myself thinking about the Giants and who would step up for them. One of the question that came to mind is “who are the leaders of the Giants” anymore? In the past we had Strahan, Tuck, Eli, Toomer. Now I look at the lack of veteran presence on the team and wonder, with a young, rookie head coach, who are the guys that are going to help hold the locker room together? Of course it needs to be Jones and Barkley but given their youth I wonder if they carry that weight. Golden Tate comes to mind and Nate Solder but is that enough? And what about the defensive side of the ball, especially with Michael Thomas gone.

Ed says: Jeffrey, there is no doubt that times are different with the Giants right. There no Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Eli Manning, Amani Toomer. Remember, though, they weren’t always the veteran Super Bowl champions we remember them as. They were all up-and-coming young players at one time.

The leaders of this team will, by and large, be the players the Giants drafted. Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley are the two most important players on the team, the two the Giants are most heavily invested in. They are the faces of the franchise, and its locker room leaders. Whether they are full ready for that is a different question, but they are the leaders.

Defensively, there isn’t a Jones or a Barkley. The lack of that real “alpha” on defense has been an issue, really, since Antrel Rolle and Justin Tuck moved on. Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, and Damon Harrison didn’t want that responsibility. Landon Collins wasn’t up to it. Michael Thomas was never really a defensive leader. He didn’t play enough. He was a special teams leader.

The Giants, I believe, are hoping that leadership comes from Blake Martinez. Maybe he can be their Antonio Pierce. Maybe guys like Dexter Lawrence and Ryan Connelly will grow into leadership roles. It will have to develop organically, it can’t be forced.

Wayne Mirsky asks: With the uncertainty at center and the importance of up-grading the offensive line don’t you think that Connor McGovern should have been one of the high priorities for the Giants in the free agent period. Instead he landed with the Jets. From what I read, they are not sold on Spencer Pulley and the thought that maybe Nick Gates or Shane Lemieux, two guys who never played center before could become the starting center just does not make sense to me. Your thoughts?

Ed says: Wayne, there seems to be a lot of consternation/obsession about the center position in the Giants fan base at the moment. Nick Falato and I discussed that during a recent ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast.

I thought the Giants might pursue McGovern, but he got a three-year, $27 million deal and that is obviously a price range the Giants didn’t want to play in. They, correctly in my view, spent the majority of their free agent dollars on defense (James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Kyler Fackrell, Austin Johnson, Leonard Williams — maybe even Markus Golden).

I thought they might pursue and would have liked it had they brought in a lower-cost veteran like Ted Karras or Joe Looney. Karras, formerly with the New England Patriots, chose the Miami Dolphins on a one-year, $4 million deal. There were reports that the Giants were interested in Looney, a backup with the Dallas Cowboys whom Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo were obviously quite familiar with. The Cowboys, though, used the new veteran salary cap benefit to keep Looney. That benefit allowed Dallas to reduce Looney’s salary cap number by $1.25 million, from the $2.437 million they are paying him to $1.87 million. The Giants apparently weren’t willing to outbid Dallas for the career backup.

We don’t know for sure how the new coaching staff feels about Pulley. We’ll find out. I get killed every time I mention it, but the return of Jon Halapio remains a possibility. I am a proponent of giving Gates a chance, I just don’t know if that is going to be possible in a shortened offseason with no OTAs or mini-camps.

I had been told the Giants had interest in Temple center Matt Hennessy in the draft, but he went off the board to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 78 in the third round, 21 picks before the Giants took Matt Peart at No. 99.

This is one of my go-to’s when fans complain about things that did not get done in any given offseason, but I again have to remind that it’s just not possible to fill every hole, fix every problem or get every player you want in one offseason.

There is a salary cap. There are a limited number of draft choices. There are 31 other teams swimming in the same pool and also trying to get better. You set your priorities and do the best you can to get better.

Paul G. Donadio asks: This off season has certainly had its challenges considering how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the NFL.

We’ve seen a few stories about how some players have been working out on their own trying to get in shape for the upcoming season. That being said, I was wondering if Nate Solder has been doing anything. Considering his level of play the past two seasons, and the other off season moves made so far, you would hope that he’s doing everything possible to prepare for the upcoming season as well as trying to improve his level of play.

My question is this: Does anyone know what Nate has been doing and if so, what?

Ed says: Paul, no, we don’t know what Solder’s training regimen has been. We haven’t had access to players, with just a handful of conference calls arranged by the team with Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley and the new players/draft picks. We have had no opportunity to talk to Solder.

That said, we have to know he’s not sitting on his couch, eating Doritos and thinking “gee, I stunk last year. I hope I magically play better in 2020.”

You know he’s working as diligently as he possibly can trying to be healthier and better than he was a season ago. I still believe Solder is a capable offensive tackle, with “capable” being the critical word to understand. He’s not great. He’s not upper echelon. He’s capable of doing an acceptable job. Did he do that last season? No. Everybody, including Solder, knows that.

When we get a chance to talk to Solder, via conference call or in person, we will try to find out more about why he feels he struggled a year ago and what he’s done to prepare for this season.