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Mailbag: How Markus Golden fits into defense

Jake in New York: Considering the edge players the Giants have on their roster, which guys will play on the strong side or weak side, or the left or the right side?

John Schmeelk: Depending on how the Giants line up their defensive linemen, strong- and weak-side alignments are not quite as important in a 3-4 formation. A team goes to an even-man front in sub-package on the majority of plays, when those edge players convert to defensive ends with their hands in the dirt.

Traditionally, you want your strong-side backer to be better able to take on blockers and set the edge. The weak-side backers are players who are free to run to the ball. Therefore, the weak-side player will usually not line up on the same side of the formation as the tight end.

Speaking from a theoretical perspective, Markus Golden showed the ability to hold up on the edge last year better than the other edge players. I think Lorenzo Carter can play both strong and weak side, and Kyler Fackrell should have the ability to do both, too.

I would try to keep Oshane Ximines out of situations where he has to seriously anchor in the run game, especially against double teams. It might be best to keep him away from the tight end, so he can better use his speed.

Likewise, I don't think it matters much which side the players occupy. I'd imagine the formations mostly would be decided by the weekly matchups.

Veteran players arrive at the Giants' 2020 training camp in East Rutherford, N.J.

Kevin in Connecticut: Any chance that Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J., Hill, or even Lorenzo Carter will play DE/edge rusher to help out the pass rush?

John Schmeelk: Carter has been playing that position since he entered the league. He stands up as a 3-4 outside linebacker on run downs and puts his hand down to rush the passer in passing situations. I imagine his role will be similar this year. A more interesting question is if Patrick Graham may use one of his defensive tackles as a defensive end rusher in a four-man front. From the group consisting of Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, BJ Hill and Leonard Williams, probably would be the best fit for that role. With that said, Williams probrably would also be their best pass rusher at three-technique spot. I don't see any of the group as being quick enough with the corner speed to consistently pressure the quarterback as a traditional defensive end.

Darryl in New Jersey: If the Giants go 8-8, do you think that record is good enough to be a wild-card team, given the seventh seed has been added as an extra wild-card?

John Schmeelk: They will certainly have a better chance than in past years. History still says that 8-8 teams will have a hard time getting into the playoffs. Over the past five seasons, only two 8-8 teams would have made the postseason (and a third that was 8-7-1) as a seventh seed. But the extra spot opens more opportunities for more teams to make honest runs at the playoffs late in the season.

Roscoe in Virginia: How hard is it to transition from guard to center, since Shane Lemieux and Nick Gates may be given the opportunity to start at center, even though neither played the position in college?

John Schmeelk: There are two parts of the transition. The first is physically having to snap the ball before getting into position to block. The hard part is the mental transition. A center helps the quarterback call out blocking adjustments and assignments. The smarter a player is, the easier it is to move to the new position.

Tom in New Jersey: Due to COVID-19, I would think that many players have not kept their regular off-season training and routines and flexibility workouts. How are the coaches going to ease in the players, going from 0 – 100%, with limited practices and no preseason?

John Schmeelk: The owners and players agreed to the training camp adjustments to address this very issue. Once COVID testing and physicals are completed, the team will only be allowed weight room and on-field conditioning work through Aug. 11. They will also be allowed to do walk-throughs on the field during this acclimation period.

From Aug. 12-16, the players begin practicing with no pads. They'll start with only helmets and then graduate to shells. Aug. 15 is a mandatory off-day. Practice lengths increase as the period continues.

From Aug. 17-Sept. 6, a maximum of 14 padded practices will be allowed. Walk-throughs will also be allowed during the unpadded and padded practice portions of training camp.

The idea is to allow the players to build up slowly, helping them to avoid the type of injuries that you are concerned about.

Melissa in New Jersey: After one year, do you think the Giants made the right decision drafting Daniel Jones over Dwayne Haskins?

John Schmeelk: Jones had a more productive rookie year than Haskins, but anyone who judges quarterbacks after one year in the league is not doing it right. Wait a couple of more seasons and we'll have a better answer. I will say that Jones' personality and demeanor is uniquely suited to surviving in the chaos and scrutiny of New York.

View photos of every member of the defensive front on the Giants' 90-man roster.


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