New York Giants
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
At the start of the offseason program, the New York Giants' biggest concern was their defense, a system that had several new faces and a new defensive coordinator who was intent on installing a more aggressive attacking style to help rejuvenate the league's 29th-ranked unit last season.
While the defense made noticeable strides in coming together, the offense, entering the second year under coordinator Ben McAdoo, developed a few issues that are concerning.
The biggest question mark is the offensive line, where a pectoral injury to left tackle Will Beatty turned the unit upside down.
As a result, the Giants have been forced to shift rookie Ereck Flowers, their first-round draft pick who was initially penciled in as the starting right tackle, to that all-important left tackle spot.
The move seems to have some within the Giants organization on edge.
"I thought in a couple of years he'd be very good (at left tackle). Well, a couple of years now is September," quipped offensive line coach Pat Flaherty.
All kidding aside, the Giants seem resigned to the fact that they're going to have to grin and bear their top rookie's growing pains at the position.
"With Ereck, the more you can throw at him, the better," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "He just has to get out there. He'll make errors and he'll make plays. He just has to recognize it."
The other question mark that has stirred some concern is at receiver. While the Giants have an abundance of bodies at that position, there are still questions regarding the team's top-two projected receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz.
As was the case last spring, Beckham was forced to miss the mandatory minicamp because of a sore hamstring.
The injury, which in fact limited Beckham throughout the spring, is not to the same side as the one that cost Beckham most of last spring, most of training camp and four games last season.
Still, despite the fact that Beckham does have six weeks to rest his hamstring, there is concern about getting him to a point where the hamstring is no longer an issue.
"He'll just continue whatever the plan is for him in the training room," Coughlin said. "He's been running, mostly straight ahead. He'll maneuver into the cutting and so forth as he starts to feel better. He does feel better, but he needs to feel a whole lot better."
Then there is the matter of what to do with Victor Cruz, who continues to rehab from a torn patellar tendon injury suffered in October and who earlier this week estimated that he was about "81 percent" on his way to being back to full strength.
Coughlin told reporters that as of right now, he doesn't anticipate that Cruz will start training camp on the PUP list.
"It's my understanding that he will be ready to participate (in training camp)," Coughlin said.
"How limited? I can't tell you. We'll see. We're not going to throw him right out there, I can tell you that."
"That is my expectation also," Cruz said about avoiding the PUP list. "Me and coach Coughlin are on the same page. I think the way I feel right now, that's definitely the goal. That's where I want to be come training camp. Take it one day at a time."
To get to that point though, Cruz acknowledged that he has a lot of work and progress to make, but for the time being, "I think right now I'm in a good place to move on and get to the next steps."
Cruz has been able to not only run at full speed, but he has done some cutting on a side field while his teammates went through the daily grind. After each workout, he treated his healing knee to a big ice wrap and would come out the next day and do it all over again.
"You watch him off to the side and some of the things you'd do on the side of the field, it looks pretty good to me," said receivers coach Sean Ryan. "We'll see but I would never bet against that guy."
Besides the question marks with personnel, Coughlin is hoping that year two of this offense will produce better results.
"People have more knowledge of what they're doing," Coughlin said, echoing the sentiments expressed by many of the veterans who are returning from last year. "They've been pounding away at it for a while."
Moving forward it's a matter then of clarifying some of the personnel issues as well as getting the younger guys on the same page as the veterans.
"The young guys? They've got a lot to learn," Coughlin said.
The Giants will report for the start of training camp in East Rutherford on July 30.