*STATEMENT:Osi Umenyiora will get at least 12 sacks this season. *
SCHMEELK: Fact - Even if Osi misses a few games with an injury, 12 sacks is a realistic number for him to reach this year. Despite nagging injuries and getting older, Osi hasn't shown many signs of slowing down in recent years. With other threats like Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul it will be very difficult to double team him consistently. With his contract up after this season, he also has some added motivation to play his best football.
EISEN: Fact - With an asterisk. As long as Umenyiora is healthy, I believe he'll reach that total. He had nine sacks in nine games last year. If JPP starts on the right side, Umenyiora will get more of his work on passing downs, which will increase his opportunities to chase quarterbacks. He'll be fresher. And he is in a contract year, which always provides players with additional incentive.
SALOMONE: Fact - In baseball, you talk about how players will hit to the back of their baseball card. If that were the case in football, I'd hesitate, seeing that Osi has recorded 12 sacks or more just twice in his eight seasons. But football is a different beast because each season is its own entity and anything can happen. With that said, I think he'll hit that benchmark. He's in a good place now surrounded by Justin Tuck and JPP and I expect a big year from him, barring any major injuries.
STATEMENT: Mathias Kiwanuka will play more than half his snaps on the defensive line.
SCHMEELK: Fiction - I think it will be just about a half, but not more than that. With three starting caliber defensive ends, his only chance of playing on the line will be in those special pass rushing packages on third down and other passing situations. He'll have an opportunity there, but not a bigger one than at linebacker where he will be on first down and in short yardage situations.
EISEN: Fiction - For two reasons. One, he's the starting strongside linebacker and that's where he'll get most of his work. Two, when everyone is healthy, the Giants have the NFL's finest defensive line. There won't be enough openings for Kiwanuka to take most of his snaps there.
SALOMONE: Fiction - I think his skills and intangibles will be used more at linebacker again this season. It's crowded on that defensive line and Kiwi's versatility will be more valued at linebacker as the team continues to establish a rotation there. As a linebacker, Kiwanuka came up big against the run down the stretch in 2011, but that's not to say he won't see some time on the line. But I see his hybrid role being with the backers.
STATEMENT: Jerrell Jernigan will play a key role on offense or special teams this season.
SCHMEELK: Fact - With a full offseason under his belt, I think Jernigan will finally have a good chance to contribute. The lockout last year robbed him of the ability to learn a NFL offense after playing in the spread at Troy. He is learning a lot and should be very comfortable at training camp in August and be ready to contribute at wide receiver. His size, quickness and speed also give the Giants unique skills that their other players at the position don't have. I also think he'll be a factor returning punts or kicks before all is said and done.
EISEN: Fact - I have a hunch he's going to be one of the Giants' busiest return specialists.
SALOMONE: Fiction - To me, a key role means opponents have to specifically game plan around you. And given Nicks can make a complete comeback, there are going to be a lot of weapons on the offense (and some that can be used on special teams). Nothing against Jernigan, but I'm going to stick with fiction until we see training camp. Like all rookies, you know he's soaking up his first conventional offseason. I know there are high hopes for him because he can be so dynamic, but I'm just going to reserve judgment on saying he'll have a key role.
STATEMENT: *Will Beatty will be the starting left tackle on September 5th.
* **SCHMEELK: Fact - I believe this is close to make or break year for Beatty, and he has to prove he can be an every down left tackle in this league. He showed flashes last season but needs to be better in the run game and show a little bit of a mean streak. He should be healthy by training camp and the Giants will give him every opportunity to win the job. I think he will.
EISEN: Fact - Once he overcomes his current back issues he'll step back into the position he held last year before eye surgery derailed him.
SALOMONE: Fact - Injuries and setbacks are frustrating, but the position should still be his for the taking. I think it would take a lot to unseat him come opening kickoff 2012. But Beatty is definitely under the microscope a little bit and there are definitely other guys that want to prove they can be an every down lineman as well.