In the first edition of our New York Giants mid-summer storylines, we talked about a young receiver who who might be playing himself out of a job, a veteran whose preseason performance is not inspiring much confidence and an offensive line unit that's struggling to find answers in the running game.
In this defensive edition, we're going to talk about a young safety who is playing his way into a job, a veteran whose preseason performance is making us giddy and a defensive line unit that despite some injuries is busting with talent and competition and might be stronger than it's been in years.
Where Ramses Barden is in danger of losing his job, Will Hill is another guy who has been on all radars and at this point there's not much left to say. Hill has clearly already all but earned a roster spot; he was on the field in the second quarter with the starters in the week two preseason game against the New York Jets. And with the eyes he opened in camp and the physical play he's brought in preseason action, earning a roster spot might be just the beginning for young Mr. Hill.
Where we go from here: Now that Hill has opened eyes, his next job is going to be leap-frogging Tyler Sash on the depth chart. That Sash is suspended to start the season certainly won't hurt. The victim of Hill's success may be old friend Deon Grant, who now might have to wait for an injury for his phone to ring. The suspension for Sash and the possibility that Antrel Rolle has to play some slot corner in the nickel still leaves the door open for Grant.
Our take: Hill's name kept coming up in camp and OTAs and it's easy to see why: the kid is a ballplayer. He's fast, physical and comes downhill on ball carriers and blockers well and he's not afraid of hard contact. In short, he looks like he belongs. Fans seem to take extra pride in the coming out parties of late round picks and undrafted rookies, so Hill might soon become a fan favorite and perhaps another great find for Jerry Reese. Especially if Grant isn't resigned, we think Hill is in line for some substantial work early on in his young career.
Defensive tackle rotation
From the injury to Chris Canty to the first steps on the field by Marvin Austin to the signing of Shaun Rogers to the departure of Shaun Rogers to the eye opening play of youngsters Markus Kuhn and Dwayne Hendricks to the signing of former Denver Bronco Marcus Thomas, there's been no shortage of discussion and movement along the interior of the defensive line.
Exactly who will make this team and what role everyone will play in the rotation has been a constant. So far it looks like Linvall Joseph and Rocky Bernard will start the season as the starters with Chris Canty recovering from injury but expected to return at some point relatively early on. After that, it's anyone's guess with Austin, Thomas, Hendrick and Kuhn in a wild battle for roster spots and playing time.
Where we go from here: The Giants have primarily two decisions to make: 1) How many defensive tackles will they carry on the opening day roster and two) Which guys are going to make it and what will their roles be. Generally we'd expect the Giants to carry four defensive tackles, but with Canty on the shelf we wouldn't be terribly surprised to see the team start with five. But who? Marvin Austin can probably be considered a lock for a roster spot but has yet to definitively show he's ready to contribute.
As for that possible fifth spot, it looks from the outside to be a free-for-all between Thomas (who was signed when Rogers and Austin, who's now back up, went down), Kuhn (the rookie 7th-round draft pick who played well with the third string against the Jets) and Hendricks (who was on the roster in 2010 and spent all of 2011 on the practice squad and had a good showing in the first preseason game). With the exception of Joseph, all of these guys are still jockeying for jobs and playing time to some degree so we'll have our eye on the big boys up front these last two preseason games.
Our take: We're sure the team has a concrete plan of what they want to do, but at this point it really looks like an open book from top to bottom and some of these battles look like they could go either way.
On one hand, Rocky Bernard is penciled in as a starter. On the other hand, if Thomas shows in the next few preseason games to be a late free agent steal and is ready to contribute, is it so crazy that the Giants go with the youth and potential in Hendricks and/or Kuhn and give ol' Rocky his walking papers? Or perhaps Thomas, a guy sitting around waiting for a phone call two weeks ago turns out to be be nothing more than camp body, injury insurance who gets sent packing as soon as Canty is ready to suit up? Maybe Hendricks tenure on the practice squad gives him a leg up over Kuhn for that last spot. Maybe Kuhn plays so well next week the Giants are forced to give him a roster spot because there's no way they can slip him to the practice squad.
The point is that a lot of these things could or might or might not happen. Or plenty of other outcomes could arise. The last two weeks of preseason will probably make all the difference here.
In our mind, we trust the coaching staff and front office to make the right calls. We're just happy that we're talking about how to deal with a glut of talent up front. Good problems to have.
We all know all about Osi's storied and rocky career with the Giants. But this offseason has been a new chapter: coming off a season in which he proved his many doubters wrong (yes, myself most definitely included) wrong and showed he can still be as disruptive a force there is off the edge, he rolls into camp with no controversy, a new contract and nothing but smiles on his face.
Where we go from here: Just sit back and enjoy watching one of the games best rushers wreak havoc on our opponents quarterback. Welcome to the NFL Robert Griffin III. He'll get plenty of chances to beat one on one's on the outside and if he stays healthy a double digit sack total with a handful of his trademark forced fumbles and strip sacks wouldn't be all that surprising an outcome (he is in a contract year after all).
Our take: The guy just got a second ring, a raise, he's healthy and he's playing for a new deal; it's got all the making of something special. Perhaps best of all, he's having fun. Haz and I were talking about how awesome it was to see him sprinting down the field on Hosley's interception in a preseason game. And, by the way, did you see how fast he was moving?
If Umenyiora is productive this year but doesn't quite find the megabucks deal he envisioned (he is after all over 30, had his share of injuries and more of a situational pass rusher at this stage in his career), is it crazy to think the Giants might put together a decent offer during or after the season to hopefully let him finish his career in Blue?
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