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5 questions for the offense heading into Training Camp

Posted Jul 29, 2015

Giants.com's Dan Salomone highlights five questions for the team's offense as Training Camp nears

1. WILL THE OFFENSIVE LINE STAY THE SAME?

While most of the pieces remained the same, there was turnover at all five offensive line positions from a year ago.

During organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp last month at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, the Giants primarily lined up first-round draft choice Ereck Flowers at left tackle (starter Will Beatty suffered a torn pectoral muscle earlier in the offseason), Justin Pugh at left guard (Pugh had started at right tackle since being drafted in 2013), Weston Richburg at center (Richburg, a natural center, started last year at right guard as a rookie), Geoff Schwartz at right guard (Schwartz was injured for most of 2014), and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle (Newhouse signed with the Giants in March as a free agent).

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All eyes will be on those five spots come Friday’s first practice of training camp.

“It is different, I don’t know if it is that drastically different,” offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said last month during minicamp. “We just have to, as I have mentioned to you in past years, once we get closer to training camp, we have to nail this thing down and say, ‘Hey, this is the best fit that we have that is going to make our offense successful in 2015.’”


2. HOW WILL FLOWERS PERFORM?

The Giants selected Flowers ninth overall this past April with the intention of the Miami product one day becoming their franchise left tackle. But that process was expedited when Beatty, who has not missed a game since 2011, underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle that he suffered during weight training the week before OTAs began in late May.

The expected recovery time was set at five to six months from then. To speed up the learning curve, Flowers took reps at left tackle with both the first and second units during the spring. We’ll see where the rookie is when the intensity gets turned up this week.

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“We like him as a future left tackle of the New York Giants,” offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said. “I am very comfortable with him being out there right now. Nothing is ever set in stone. We look forward to getting back here in camp and seeing him jump in there right from the beginning and give a run at it.”

3. WHAT WILL VICTOR CRUZ DO?


Gauging himself at a little more than 80 percent at the end of minicamp, Cruz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Philadelphia last October, said the final hurdle of his return is the strength. Six weeks have passed since Cruz last checked in, and we’ll see how much remains of the final 20 percent as coach Tom Coughlin said it was not the “intention” to start the wide receiver on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

“It is my understanding that he will be ready to participate,” Coughlin said at minicamp. “How limited, I can’t tell you. We will see. We aren’t going to throw him right out there, I can tell you that.”

4. WILL ANOTHER TIGHT END EMERGE?


A major question heading into last training camp was who would be the Giants’ primary tight end. Larry Donnell, seemingly out of nowhere, answered it with a breakout campaign in 2014, but the third-year pro out of Grambling State missed most of spring with Achilles tendinitis.

Meanwhile, players like Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson, Jerome Cunningham and undrafted rookies Willy Tye and Matt LaCosse will make it an interesting competition to watch as multiple players could have an impact.

“No matter where you are, when you play a position that is as multiple as we ask our tight ends to do, you are going to want guys to do different things,” tight end coach Kevin M. Gilbride said. “We don’t necessarily need this guy to have this receiving skill, this guy has to have run blocking skill, this pass-protection skill, this speed – they don’t have to have it all, as long as they have a number of attributes that they can use and use well on the field. That is enough for us to be successful. As coaches, we will put them in position to be successful.”

5. HOW WILL THE RUNNING BACKS SPLIT CARRIES?


The Giants made what they hope will be a key free-agent addition when they signed former Patriots running back Shane Vereen, who in February set the record for most receptions by a running back in Super Bowl history. He joined a running backs room that includes Rashad Jennings, who is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued first season with the Giants, and Andre Williams, who is looking to build on a solid rookie campaign. Now the question is how they will split the workload while others like Orleans Darkwa will also compete for reps in what running backs coach Craig Johnson said was a “fluid” situation.

“A great thing for this room is there is great competition because Rashad watches what Shane does and that makes Rashad play better, and then Andre watches it and so on,” Johnson said. “It creates great chemistry for the room. I feel good that all of them are pushing each other to really compete and be the best.”