The Giants.com crew is counting down the start of training camp with 30 questions in 30 days. The full squad reports on Wednesday, July 24 for meetings and the conditioning evaluation. The first open practice session will take place the following day, July 25, at 2:45 p.m. ET at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
30. What is the No. 1 storyline heading into training camp?
John Schmeelk: Can the Giants find a pass rush? This question was an easy one for me, and the answer is that simple. Once the Giants decided to trade Olivier Vernon, and even before that, improving the pass was a priority this offseason. The Giants used free agency to add Markus Golden, a player who had 12.5 sacks in 2016 in Arizona under James Bettcher. He tore his ACL the following season and had only 2.5 sacks in 11 games in 2018. He is healthy and the Giants are counting on him to have a bounce-back season.
The Giants are also counting on their young pass rushers to give them more production. Lorenzo Carter transitioned from an off-ball linebacker at Georgia to more of an edge rusher in his first year in the NFL. He had some of the best results in the physical testing at the combine of any player in the history of the event, so there is hope he can improve on his four sacks from a year ago. He came back this spring looking a lot stronger in his upper body.
Oshane Ximines, the Giants’ third-round pick out of Old Dominion, is someone else the team hopes can add some edge pressure. He had 11.5 sacks in his senior season and looked dominant in Conference USA play. He also flashed against tougher competition, like Virginia Tech, a game where he had 2.5 sacks. It will be a big jump to the NFL and it will be interesting to see how quickly he adjusts.
The Giants also hope to get better pass rush up the middle from their interior defensive linemen. B.J. Hill had 5.5 sacks, but it may be difficult for him to match those numbers in his second season. The Giants have high hopes that Dexter Lawrence, their second of their three first-round picks, can provide an inside push at 340 pounds with his impressive athleticism. Dalvin Tomlinson is also someone the team hopes can make a jump in his third season. RJ McIntosh, the Giants’ fifth-round pick in 2018 who missed most of his rookie year, could also surprise people.
Whether the defense can take a step forward will depend heavily on whether it can find a pass rush. We will start to get a sense in training camp when the pads go on. The answer to this question could determine the success of the 2019 season. One-on-ones between the offensive and defensive lines will be a focus for me when the team hits the practice field at the end of July.