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Fact or Fiction: Predicting Training Camp standouts


Giants writers debate Big Blue topics as Training Camp gets underway:

The Offensive MVP of training camp will be wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Very rarely are older veterans MVPs of things like training camp. Marshall's dedication and level of effort impressed in the spring, but he and the team understand that camp is just the beginning of a process. I wouldn't be surprised if the team takes precautions with some of the veterans by either giving them periodic days off or reducing some of their reps. That's why Marshall won't be the offensive MVP of camp. Look at one of the younger guys trying to make a name for themselves instead. I'll go with Evan Engram instead.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -I'll stay within the wide receiver family and go with Sterling Shepard. He was the most impressive skill player during OTAs and minicamp, and there's no reason he won't show that again in training camp. If Odell Beckham Jr. didn't raise the bar so high in 2014, we'd be talking about Shepard having one of the better rookie seasons at the position in franchise history. He's only going to get better.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Brandon Marshall is certainly a good choice, but I'll go with Evan Engram. I think the Giants will look to get him as many reps as possible during training camp so he can build chemistry with Eli Manning. Engram already showed some flashes during OTAs and minicamp and I think he'll step it up a notch once the pads are on in camp. I also wouldn't be surprised if Matt LaCosse gives Engram some stiff competition for Offensive MVP given the former looked impressive throughout the offseason program.

The Defensive MVP of training camp will be safety Landon Collins.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction- This has a chance of being a fact, since the Defensive MVPs in camp are nearly always in the secondary. Interceptions are the key, so Collins certainly has a chance to be the man, but I'm going to go with a cornerback instead. Players often take a big jump in their second season, and I think Eli Apple has a chance to be that player this year. He played an awful lot last year and gained lot of experience. He should have a lot of confidence in camp, and I think he'll make a bunch of plays on the ball and take Defensive MVP honors.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -He was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate for the entire league last season, so yeah, I think he's in the running for this. Just as the Giants have not been shy about saying they want to put the fifth Lombardi in the trophy case, Collins has not been shy about how great he wants to be. He's certainly on a promising trajectory, and more importantly, he doesn't take plays off, including the 22nd snap of the seventh practice in training camp.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -: I think the Defensive MVP will be the Giants' other starting safety: Darian Thompson. The team's third-round pick in 2016 was limited in last year's camp and played in just two games as a rookie due to injuries, so I think he'll be motivated to make a statement this year and reclaim his starting job. Thompson was a ball hawk at Boise State and set a Mountain West record with 19 career interceptions. I can't think of a better environment for him to showcase that skillset than during training camp.

The most improved player in training camp will be linebacker B.J. Goodson.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - He will be the player with the most expanded role, but it remains to be seen if he will be the most improved. Eli Apple could be in the running here, but I already used him in answer No. 2. Other second-year player options are Paul Perkins and Jerell Adams. With all that said, I'm going to go with Darian Thompson. We only got a taste of what Thompson could do last year before he injured his foot and missed most of the season. He did a lot of work in the classroom last year after his injury and I think it pays off with a much better player at camp.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -He has to be. This is a second-year pro who played only 13 snaps on defense as a rookie. Now he's going to be the Giants' starting middle linebacker. There are a lot of reasons to think he is up to the challenge, but two of the main ones are that he has played on the biggest stage in college at Clemson and he learned from Antonio Pierce this offseason. The great Giants linebacker and Super Bowl XLII champion spent a few weeks as a coaching intern in the offseason and helped mentor Goodson.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Last season, B.J. Goodson played just 13 defensive snaps. To put that in perspective, he accounted for 1.17 percent of the team's workload. Despite his limited experience, the Giants' fourth round pick in 2016 enters this year's camp as the favorite to win the starting middle linebacker job. Goodson has a great opportunity for additional playing time and I think all those extra reps will pay off. He already caught the attention of the coaching staff and his veteran teammates with his vocal presence and strong classroom work ethic during the offseason program. Now, it's a matter of translating all of that to the field in training camp.

The most exciting player in training camp will be tight end Evan Engram.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The Fiction Slam! As athletic as Engram is, it is hard for me to say the most "exciting" player in training camp will be a tight end. He might be the guy some fans are most excited to see up close for the first time, but he won't be the most exciting. For as long as he is on the team, the most exciting player on the Giants is going to be Odell Beckham Jr. He is an athletic wonder and there is always a chance he will do something that makes you say "wow."

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -There is a buzz around the first-round draft pick, from fans to coaches to teammates and even Giants legends. Fans haven't seen the Giants take a tight end in the first round since Jeremy Shockey in 2002, and they're excited to see what he brings to an offense that hit a wall last season. He got his feet wet in the spring and started to make some plays, but I think he's really going to take off when he goes full-speed with the pads on.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Ever since Odell Beckham arrived in 2014, he's claimed the label of most exciting player on the roster and, despite the upside of Evan Engram, I don't see Beckham relinquishing that title so quickly. Brandon Marshall and Engram will make a push but Beckham will once again be the clear-cut winner.

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