|AP Photo/Evan Pinkus|
By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
The New York Giants wrapped up their mandatory mini-camp Thursday afternoon at the Timex Performance Center at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Here are 10 things that can be taken away from the mini-camp as it is the last time the Giants will be together until training camp opens at the end of July.
1.) Hakeem Nicks and Tom Coughlin look to be on the same page. There was much made of Nicks missing the voluntary OTA’s and he would not discuss the matter at mini-camp this week. The good news though is that he was in camp and looks healthy. Nicks struggled through injuries last season as he broke his foot in OTA’s last year and was never able to fully recover for the season. Coughlin has to happy that at least one of his two star receivers was at camp and ready to go.
2.) The linebacker position has been one influx for the Giants since Antonio Pierce was released in 2010. This season basically every starting and reserve spot is up for grabs and Mark Herzlich looks like one player ready to step up and take control of the position. Herzlich was an All-American at Boston College in 2008 and was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year. In 2009 he was diagnosed with cancer but was back on the field for the 2010 season. He went undrafted in 2011 but the Giants signed him as a rookie free agent and he has been moving up the depth chart ever since. This could be the season Herzlich makes a big impact for the Giants on defense and takes a stranglehold on the Middle Linebacker position.
3.) Chris Snee and David Baas both had offseason surgeries but looked strong at minicamp. They did not participate in drills but worked on the side and looked to be coming along well in their rehab. Coughlin is optimistic that both will be ready for training camp next month and can help stabilize the Giants offense line being two of the elder statesmen at the position.
4.) Bear Pascoe is a jack of all trades for the Giants as their H-Back. Recently though he has been playing fullback fulltime as Henry Hynoski suffered a knee injury in OTA’s and he has made the most of the opportunity. Pascoe is a very versatile player for the Giants as he lines up at multiple spots on the field depending on the formations. He has experience at fullback, lining up there 160 times last season according to tight end coach Michael Pope and looks to be embracing his role as the fulltime fullback right now.
5.) Rueben Randle did not have much of a role with the Giants last season as a rookie but looks poised to have a breakout year. With Victor Cruz not attending camp with his contract up in the air and Nicks just returning for minicamp this week, Randle ran with the first team and seized the opportunity, getting reps as the go-to guy. Randle seems to have grown up a lot from last year, as his work ethic and performance in practice was called into question multiple times by Coughlin last season but looked like a different person this time around; he was first in line and became a bell cow for the receiving corps according to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
|AP Photo/Evan Pinkus|
6.) With Jason Pierre-Paul being sidelined for up to 12 weeks because of back surgery the opportunity presented itself for some of the younger Giant defensive lineman to step up and show the coaching staff they deserve some playing time. Two players to take advantage in minicamp were third round pick Damontre Moore and Adrian Tracy, who had his first healthy season in 2012. Both will have the chance to showcase their talents even more in the coming months as the Giants shift to practicing with pads and full contact.
7.) With Ahmad Bradshaw moving on to the Indianapolis Colts this season, second-year running back David Wilson will be taking on an increased role in the Giants’ offense as the feature back. With that, it was assumed that Wilson will no longer be returning kicks for the Giants as his focus would be on playing running back, but that may not be the case. Wilson has stated that he is willing to return kicks and do whatever is needed to help the team win. Wilson was named second-team All-Pro last year as a returner and was electric doing it, always creating a buzz in the stadium when he was back there to receive kickoffs. Having him return kicks in certain situations if not full time is something the Giants will have to take a look at.
8.) Terrell Thomas has had tough luck after needing to repair his ACL in the last two seasons consecutively. This season Thomas is taking a more cautious approach so that he does not injure himself again. He realizes that he may have pushed too hard to get back on the field last year and it resulted in the ligament tearing again and another lost season. This season Thomas was off to the side going through drills with the athletic trainers. Thomas may be moved to safety and play a hybrid role for the Giants, but whatever it is he just wants to get back on the field.
9.) With Kenny Phillips moving on this past offseason to the Philadelphia Eagles the Giants were in need of a third safety. A player that they signed in Ryan Mundy looks poised to take over that role. Playing the first four seasons of his career in Pittsburgh alongside quite possibly the best safety tandem in Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark he learned a lot about the safety position and how to play it successfully in the NFL. He will bring that knowledge and professionalism along with him to the Giants and should fit in perfectly with this team. His ability to play special teams will also be an asset the Giants will put to use.
10.) Being a rookie in the NFL, especially with the Giants, is not easy as new lingo and a whole playbook needs to be digested and learned before you can get onto the field. This group of draftees seems to understand that and hit the books hard during minicamp according to Coughlin. Coughlin said that they were a good group in the classroom and had no complaints about how they went about their business. Being a professional football player takes more than one minicamp to accomplish anything so it will be worth keeping an eye on these rookies to see if they continue to work on their goal of becoming a successful NFL player.