This is the best group of weapons Eli has ever had.**
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -It is close but not quite there. The weapons in 2006 were better with Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey and Tiki Barber. All four of those players are Pro Bowl players, and even with Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz, the Giants will not run four Pro Bowl players out there this year at WR, TE and RB. I'll take the top two from this year, but the group from 2006 is better.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -Eli Manning was asked this question earlier this week, and the franchise quarterback, who is in the middle of his 12th training camp, said, "Yeah, as far as I can think of." While Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. return, the Giants added a veteran in James Jones, who has more catches, yards and touchdowns than all of them and is coming off a career-high reception total. Add in Rueben Randle, who was just shy of a 1,000-yard season in 2014, and Shane Vereen, who set the Super Bowl record for most receptions by a running back, and Manning's arsenal is full.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -The current group is deep and impressive, but I'm going to give a slight edge to the 2008 roster. That year, Manning had Earth, Wind and Fire in the backfield with Derrick Ward, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. That's two veterans and Bradshaw coming off an impressive rookie campaign. The receiving corps also showcased just as many weapons as this year's crew: Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon plus Sinorice Moss and rookie Mario Manningham. To further emphasize the depth of that group, Smith led the team in receptions that season…it was just his second year in the league. Throw in Kevin Boss at tight end, and Manning had a plethora of weapons, with proven track records, and a great deal of versatility.
Eli Manning will set a career high in passing attempts.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -I think the Giants will try to be more balanced on offense this year than last, and they won't be playing from behind as much. Therefore, Eli Manning will throw fewer passes, but not by much. The Giants have a large stable of running backs they want to use.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -He did so last year without having Victor Cruz for most of the season. Now the Giants will want to be more balanced than they were in 2014, but like everyone has noticed, Eli Manning's arm is as live as ever. They're going to use it. As previously mentioned, he has more than enough weapons in the passing game, and the offense's numbers should only increase in the second season under Ben McAdoo.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -In his first year in Ben McAdoo's offense, Eli Manning set a career high in passing attempts with 601. Keep in mind, the Giants ranked 23rd in the league in rushing yards per game (100.2) and were tied for 28th in rushing yards per carry (3.6). With an improved running game and some more balance on offense this season, I'd be surprised if he surpasses 601 pass attempts. To put things in perspective, the last time the Giants running game ranked in the top half of the league was 2012 (14th – 116.4 yds per gm) and Manning attempted 536 passes that season. That's 65 less passes than 2014 and a much better estimate of what to expect this season.
Bennett Jackson will start in the first preseason game.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -**I don't know who it is going to be, but since the Giants are rotating everyone in and out, betting on it being any one individual player is foolhardy at this point. All I'm doing is going with the odds. The only person I'm fairly certain will be one of the starters is Landon Collins, and that might not even be a given.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -He's doing exactly what safeties coach David Merritt tells all his players when they're on the first team: "Hold your position." Jackson looks like he's taking a liking to the switch from cornerback, and just yesterday, he had an interception in practice. Meanwhile, coach Tom Coughlin said safety Nat Berhe has "some kind of a muscle tear in the calf area."
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -I'm going fiction here only because at this point there's a number of players who have a chance to start at safety in the Giants first preseason game, so your guess is as good as mine. They've been rotating first team safeties in the early stages of training camp, so it's very difficult to get a good read on who will get the nod against the Bengals. At this point, I'd lean toward Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor only because they both received the most first team reps during OTAs and minicamp. Aside from Jackson, the other candidate, Nat Berhe, continues to be sidelined with a calf injury, so he's playing catchup.
Devon Kennard will be in the top-3 in sacks for the Giants.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - **Even though Kennard will blitz a lot and was seen in the one-on-one pass rush drill the other day, I have a hard time saying he will have more sacks than all the defensive linemen besides two. I expect both Robert Ayers and Johnathan Hankins to have more sacks than him. If one other defensive end doesn't, I would be very surprised.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -Like Johnathan Hankins said yesterday about the defensive tackles always competing against the ends for sacks, the same is true for linebackers. As a rookie, Kennard laid the foundation to become an impact player in this league, but just strictly talking about sacks, I can't see a linebacker getting more than players like Robert Ayers Jr., Kerry Wynn, Damontre Moore and Hankins. Meanwhile, a major emphasis will be stopping the run for the front seven.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Last season, in limited action, Devon Kennard finished fifth on the team in sacks with 4.5. Four defensive linemen collected more sacks than him and I expect the same results this season. In Steve Spagnuolo's first stint as defensive coordinator, in 2007, the highest a linebacker finished in sacks was fifth (Mathias Kiwanuka – 4.5) and, in 2008, it was eighth (Antonio Pierce – 1.5). Thanks to his versatility, Kennard will have opportunities to get to the quarterback, likely even more than last season, but I think there's at least three defensive lineman that will finish ahead of him.