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Training Camp Storylines: What to watch for

Posted Jul 26, 2017

Here are five storylines to follow as the Giants get set to report to Training Camp:

The New York Giants report on Thursday for training camp, which will be held at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford. Here are five storylines to follow as the action begins:

NEW WEAPONS FOR ELI

Last year, the defense got a boost from free-agent signings and draft picks. This year, it was the offense’s turn. The Giants added six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has posted 1,000-yard seasons for a record four different teams. The 33-year-old’s primary goal is to make it to the postseason for the first time in his career while taking double-teams away from Odell Beckham Jr.

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Adding a playmaker at tight end like Evan Engram should also do the trick. The Giants used the 23rd overall draft choice on the first player to earn All-SEC honors four times at Ole Miss, Eli Manning’s alma mater. With Marshall and Engram joining a passing attack that already included Beckham and Sterling Shepard, the Giants hope to break the logjam on an offense that last year scored a touchdown less per game than it did in 2015.

FILLING THE FEW HOLES ON DEFENSE

While most of the NFL’s No. 2 scoring defense returns for a shot at the title, there are still a few holes that cannot be overlooked. First is finding who will start next to All-Pro defensive tackle Damon Harrison, a role vacated by Johnathan Hankins, who signed with the Colts as a free agent. The line of possible successors includes second-round draft pick Dalvin Tomlinson, but he might have to wait a year like Hankins did – and Linval Joseph before him. Or the Alabama product could just be too good to wait. We’ll find out in training camp while Robert Thomas, Jay Bromley, and Corbin Bryant compete for spots in the rotation.

Another spot with a new face is middle linebacker, where Kelvin Sheppard started last season but was not re-signed. B.J. Goodson, who played just 13 defensive snaps last year as a rookie fourth-round draft pick, is the man for the job right now. He was responsible for making the calls and aligning the defense during OTAs and minicamp. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was encouraged by the trust Goodson gained from the veterans on the field, but everything will speed up with the pads on.

PERK LEADS THE WAY

Head coach Ben McAdoo announced early in the offseason that second-year pro Paul Perkins would be the starting running back. It wasn’t a surprise, given the release of Rashad Jennings and the way Perkins played down the stretch in his rookie season. Perkins now looks to become the Giants’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012 for an offense that finished 29th in the league in rushing yards per game (88.3) last season. The return of a healthy Shane Vereen should help the cause, as Orleans Darkwa, Shaun Draughn, Khalid Abdullah and Wayne Gallman, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, compete for touches.

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COMPETITIONS TO WATCH

Stay tuned to Giants.com for an in-depth look at the key competitions during training camp, including tight end, wide receiver, safety, offensive line and cornerback. In addition to Engram, the Giants have some versatility at tight end with newcomer Rhett Ellison, who is known for his blocking and can play out of the backfield. Meanwhile, Jerell Adams and Will Tye have another year under their belts, while Matt LaCosse tries to prove he can stay healthy. At wide receiver, the competition will likely come down to the preseason games to see who plays behind Beckham, Marshall, and Shepard. Meanwhile, D.J. Fluker, a former first-round draft choice, will look for a spot on an offensive line that returns all five starters. 

On defense, safety Darian Thompson is back after injuries ended his promising start as a rookie. He’s the frontrunner to start opposite All-Pro Landon Collins, but Andrew Adams isn’t going anywhere. Staying in the secondary, the Giants have plenty of competitors to back up cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple. You can never have enough quality defensive backs in today’s NFL.

GIANTS PUT KICKER ROSAS TO THE TEST

The Giants have carried one kicker all offseason, and he’s never played in a regular-season game. That shows what the team thinks about the potential of Aldrick Rosas, who last year spent training camp with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted rookie from Southern Oregon. He made his lone field goal attempt from 33 yards in the preseason while converting all four of his extra points. At 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, Rosas brings size and strength to the position, but the Giants need to see what he can do in pressure situations. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn has some ideas.  

“Sometimes you get the whole team around them and try to create some different scenarios,” he said. “You put incentives on it or something like that. So you could try to create [a scenario], but there is nothing like kicking in front of 82,000.”