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Giants players vying for a starting role in 2015

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SAFETY COOPER TAYLOR **


NEWS
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> [30 Questions in 30 Days](http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/30-Questions-in-30-Days-TE-combinations-in-2015/94cba40e-bdc5-4d4c-8624-0282fee93726)
> [5 possible breakout players](http://www.giants.com/news-and-blogs/article-1/Which-players-could-have-breakout-season/812e5683-2da3-4bf0-b9dc-9eb464d24f06)
PHOTOS
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VIDEOS
> [Toughest stretch of the schedule](http://www.giants.com/videos/videos/Mailbag-Toughest-stretch-of-the-schedule/0a5f5bdd-0f13-4fde-b691-9be3954d2272)


After returning no starters at the position from last season, the Giants answered part of the safety question when they seized the opportunity to be aggressive and traded up to draft Alabama All-American Landon Collins with the first pick of the second round.

He was brought in to start right away, and it appears that is still the case after he lined up on the top tandem throughout spring football. But what about his backfield partner? Throughout organized team activities (OTAs) and minicamp, it was Cooper Taylor, who missed all of last season with a foot injury and has not played in a game since December of 2013.

"Cooper is coming along well," safeties coach David Merritt said. "Mentally, I never doubted Cooper would be able to pick up the defense. It is just now getting Cooper's body to move in the proper direction once he receives the call and allows himself to line up and just see what is happening in front of him. The mental part, Cooper is fine, but it is now the physical part. We have to make sure the durability factor – he has to be durable for us because he has missed the past two seasons. Mentally, I am not concerned about him. Physically hoping that he will be able to step up and be durable for us."

SAFETY NAT BERHE

Another factor in the safety competition this summer will be second-year pro Nat Berhe, who was unable to practice in the spring because of a calf issue. Berhe proved himself on special teams last year as a rookie, but now he will have to get back up to speed at training camp.

"That hurts tremendously because all the reps that Cooper and Landon and Mykkele [Thompson] and some of the other guys have taken, Nat would have been right in there with all the other guys," Merritt added. "By him standing on the sideline and taking mental reps – I understand you are taking mental reps, but it is different. It is not the same as putting your body through the motions and making your body react to different movements that the receivers are stemming at you. It is going to definitely hurt him and set him back a little bit, but hopefully he can come back at training camp and be ready to fight for a starting job." LB J.T. THOMAS / LB DEVON KENNARD

The linebacker corps hinges on the health of Jon Beason, the man in the middle who played in just four games last season before suffering a toe injury that required surgery. In hopes of avoiding a setback, the Giants limited Beason in OTAs and minicamp, but once he's a full participant, the rest of the pieces will start to fall into place.

Enter J.T. Thomas, the former Jaguar who had a big game against the Giants last season and signed with the team as a free agent in March. Thomas saw time on the first team at weakside linebacker.

But we'll see how the group comes together with Thomas, Beason, Devon Kennard, Jameel McClain, Jonathan Casillas, and Mark Herzlich all competing for spots.

"I think to me, when you go out, you are going to put the three best people on the field," linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said.

"Whatever the position is, who are the best guys? Those are the guys that are going to play. That is what the players are striving to be. They are striving to be the best three linebackers, the best four linebackers. To me, that has always been true, ever since I started coaching. The best guys are going to play, especially at the linebacker position, since they are all very similar."OL BRANDON MOSLEY

From the beginning of OTAs through the end of minicamp, the first-team offensive line remained steady with rookie first-round pick Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, Geoff Schwartz at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.

Of course, the new-look unit was set in motion largely due to William Beatty suffering a torn pectoral muscle at the end of May that will cost the left tackle to miss five to six months.

But it is still a fluid situation that Brandon Mosley will try to factor into this summer. The former fourth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2012 has played in just 22 games with one start at right guard in his career but has spent some time over the last two offseasons outside at right tackle, which could be his path to a starting role in 2015. DE DAMONTRE MOORE

Damontre Moore had a busy offseason. After recording the first 5.5 sacks of his career in 2014, Moore underwent shoulder surgery and missed some of the spring workout program while taking classes at Texas A&M (he said he received three A's, three B's, and one C). Now he enters his third training camp looking to pass the next test and earn a starting role in Steve Spagnuolo's new defense.

"Just as far my position and what they require me to do, I feel like it was similar to what I ran in college the first two years," Moore said. "I feel like it utilizes my skills and my assets. And so now it's just all about going out there, learning it, perfecting it, and just going out there and implementing it on the field."

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