It's good to be back.
1) How do you think Matt Dodge will perform in year two? Do you think he needs someone to compete with him in camp? Matt from Brooklyn
Let me first answer the second part of your question. Competition is good for everybody. Ideally, Tom Coughlin would like every player to compete for his job, and I would guess that is particularly true for a second-year punter who had an uneven rookie season. If the training camp rosters are set at 90 players, as has been speculated, then I think the Giants will bring in another punter. Having said that, the answer to the first part of your question is that I think Dodge will be an improved player in 2011. The young man is not without talent. He has a strong leg. Obviously, he needs to work on directional punting. But he is a determined young man and I would be stunned if he hasn't been kicking almost every day. Dodge knows he must prove himself from the first day of camp.
2) Will QB Coach Mike Sullivan come up with new drills to help Eli and his turnover issues from 2010? Nick, New York
Coach Sullivan will run Manning through a wide array of drills in camp, but I can't say they will be specifically designed to reduce Manning's number of interceptions (a career-high 25 last season). Remember, several of them caromed off the hands of his intended receiver and others were the product of game circumstances (such as throwing desperation passes when facing a large late deficit in Green Bay). Sullivan and the other coaches will surely work with Manning on reducing his turnovers. But I think better decisions by Manning and a better job of holding onto the ball by his receivers will have a larger inpact.
3) I am stuck in Eagle country! Who do you think will have the better year WR Mario Manningham or Hakeem Nicks? John, PA
I am reluctant to rate one of our players as superior to another one of our players. Both Nicks and Manningham are very talented (though, frankly, the receiver opposing teams often had the most trouble covering was Steve Smith). I do think Nicks demonstrated last year that he has the potential to be one of the very best receivers in the NFL. If he can stay healthy, secure a few more balls that hit his hands and not cut off routes as he did in the Dallas game, Nicks has a chance to be a very special player.
4) Can you tell me some more about the third round draft pick Jernigan? Chrissy in Florida.
Jernigan is an outstanding athlete who was a dual-threat quarterback in high school and a productive receiver and return man at Troy University. He has terrific speed. Jernigan could get a chance to contribute immediately as a punt and/or kickoff returner. Perhaps he'll work his way into the three or four-wide receiver sets. The Giants have never been a big gadget play team, but Jernigan might have the ability to take a handoff and then throw a pass. He could be fun to watch.
5) True or False. The Giants offensive line will lead the league again in allowing the fewest sacks? Patrick, Freehold
I don't want to make any enemies, but I'm going to say false. I don't say that because I think the line will decline, although like everyone I'm interested to get updates on the health of Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Adam Koets. But part of the reason – even if it was a small part – that Manning threw so many interceptions last season was that he sometimes threw the ball when taking a sack would have been more prudent. As Tom Coughlin says, sometimes it's okay to punt. A sack is preferable to a turnover. I think Manning will be encouraged to make fewer throws that the coaches perceive as risky and take more sacks this season.
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