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Fact or Fiction: Biggest second-year leap?


*Giants writers debate Big Blue topics with Training Camp in full swing: *

Linebacker B.J. Goodson is making the biggest leap among second-year players.

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*JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction- *I have two choices here that are tough to separate. I think both Eli Apple and Paul Perkins will make huge jumps this year. Since Apple gained great experience and proved his effectiveness last season, the jump for him might not be as big. Perkins, on the other hand, will go from a backup for most of the season to a full-fledged starter and someone that will carry it 15-18 times a game. Perkins has a chance to bring a brand new dynamic to the offense.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact-Cornerback Eli Apple, last year's first-round pick, is the best of them, but I thought he was already pretty darn impressive as a rookie when he started on the No. 2 scoring defense in one of the best secondaries in the NFL. B.J. Goodson, who played only a handful of defensive snaps last year, is the one with the most to prove as he becomes the starting middle linebacker for the New York Giants. And he's doing that so far this summer. All-Pro safety Landon Collins mentioned the other day that Goodson's physicality is setting the tempo for the entire defense. Coach Ben McAdoo echoed those thoughts after Thursday's practice. "It's a thud tempo," he said, "and B.J. is good at thudding."

LANCE MEDOW: FICTION -There are a number of solid candidates given the impact of last year's draft class, so you can make a case for several players.  I think B.J. Goodson and Darian Thompson will both make notable leaps because of their limited action in 2016, but Paul Perkins has an opportunity to make even bigger strides.  Last year's fifth-round pick flashed late last season, but this year, he'll enter the campaign as the starting running back.  With an increased workload, Perkins will have a chance to showcase his skillset on a larger scale, and I think that will lead to not only better production in terms of stats but also a great chance to branch out as a more versatile back.

Wide receiver Darius Powe has been the biggest surprise of training camp so far.

*JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact- *He's the guy that has really gone from unheralded to someone who has shown up and made a bunch of plays. In his second year out of California, Powe is a big receiver at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. His quest to the NFL will end with him developing into a consistent possession receiver and so far he has made the most of his opportunities at camp.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction-I'm going to keep rolling with the Goodson theme here. He's been one of the bigger stories of camp so far, and I don't know if I thought that would happen this soon. I mentioned his physicality before, but in terms of making the right calls, he's clearly benefitted from his time with former Giants linebacker and Super Bowl XLII champ Antonio Pierce, who has been assisting the defensive coaching staff since late in the spring.

LANCE MEDOW: FICTION -Since the Giants put the pads on, no player has set the tone more in the physicality department than B.J. Goodson.  Although he's the favorite to win the starting middle linebacker job, Goodson played only 13 defensive snaps last season. So until you see a player with limited experience on the field in pads, it's hard to get a feel for what he'll bring to the table.  Well, Goodson clearly means business as he hasn't taken it easy on his offensive teammates.  The intensity of his play has been the biggest surprise of training camp. Just ask the offense.

The current first-team offensive line will be starting Week 1.

*JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact- *D.J. Fluker could be the potential variable in this equation, but I would be surprised if he beat out John Jerry for the starting right guard job. So far, he hasn't taken enough snaps at right tackle for me to think he would realistically take over that job, either. I think we are looking at the same starting five in Week 1 against Dallas.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact-After the first wave of free agency as well as the draft, the Giants gave the returning starters a vote of confidence and moved ahead with the same starting five in the spring and so far at training camp. Continuity is important at a position where all five players need to act as one unit. Coach McAdoo did say this week that he liked the competition on the second team that is pushing the starters for jobs, but I think it won't change for Sept. 10 in Dallas. We'll get better confirmation once we get to the preseason games, beginning next Friday vs. Pittsburgh.

LANCE MEDOW: FACT -With training camp well underway, it's clear the starting five from last season have reclaimed their spots. From left to right, Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry and Bobby Hart form the first unit.  Continuity is one of the most important factors when it comes to constructing a successful offensive line, and I think the Giants want this unit to continue to build chemistry.  If there's any lineman that has a chance to break into the starting lineup, it's D.J. Fluker, but I think Jerry and Hart will hold off the competition on the right side of the line.

Robert Thomas will be the starting defensive tackle next to Damon Harrison in Week 1.

*JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact- *I still believe that by the end of the season Dalvin Tomlinson will be the starting tackle next to Damon Harrison, but it might not happen right away. And that's okay, by the way. Tomlinson is smart, has great size, comes from a pro system in Alabama and works hard. Put all those things together and you have someone who should be able to fight his way into the starting lineup sometime this season.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact-Like Johnathan Hankins and Linval Joseph before him, the Giants' track record has been to let their defensive tackles learn for a year behind the vets and take over in their second season. With that said, Dalvin Tomlinson might be too good to sit for too long, and he's certainly too good not to be a key part of the rotation as a rookie. But in terms of Week 1, I think the current situation will hold with Thomas starting next to Harrison.

LANCE MEDOW: FACT -All offseason I've been saying not to overlook Robert Thomas and to not just assume Dalvin Tomlinson will win the starting job next to Snacks, and based on what I've seen thus far during camp, I have no reason to change my stance.  Thomas is easily overlooked because he's not a household name and missed nearly half of last season due to an illness, but both Ben McAdoo and Steve Spagnuolo have spoken highly of his play all offseason. Thomas flashed a bit during the second half of 2016 thanks to his ability to stop the run and get to the quarterback.  Thomas is well aware of his opportunity, and I think he'll take full advantage of it.

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