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Fact or Fiction: Training camp first impressions


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

WR Kadarius Toney has been the biggest story of training camp

John Schmeelk: Fact – Toney's health and impact as a traditional wide receiver has been a great sign so far in camp. He has managed to stay on the field and been effective outside after a rookie season plagued by starts and stops. As the team's first round pick in 2021, Toney has a chance to be one of the team's top offensive weapons this season and beyond. His physical talent is not a question, nor is his intelligence. It's a just a matter if Toney can perfect the craft of being a pro receiver and stay healthy. If he can, Toney can be a key cog for the Giants' long-term team building process.

Dan Salomone: Fact – He was the X-factor coming into the season, and now he's "all systems" go to be the X-factor on Sundays. Toney was part the "red jersey" contingent in the Spring, raising questions about their health status when training camp rolled around. Toney has answered all those questions so far in camp.

Lance Medow: Fiction – It's been great to see Kadarius Toney back on the field getting in work with the offense but let's not put him atop the list. You can easily make a case for several other players, including Shane Lemieux and the emergence of rookie Wan'Dale Robinson. But let's go with Xavier McKinney wearing the green dot on his helmet and communicating with DC Wink Martindale to get the defense set. Although Martindale used safeties in this role in Baltimore and he's essentially continuing that trend in his first year with the Giants, it's still brand new for McKinney and the unit. From that perspective, it's extremely newsworthy and will impact the dynamics of the defense.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Toney has looked impressive through the first week of practices, making several highlight-reel catches during both team and 1-on-1 drills. However, the biggest story of training camp so far has to be the offense as a whole. It's no secret that the offense struggled in 2021, finishing 31st in both points and yards. Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka were brought in to pump some life into the unit, which has been obvious through the first week of training camp. From trick plays to various skill players lining up all over the field, it has been clear that creativity is not going to be an issue this season. Toney's role in the offense will certainly have an impact on its success, but the unit as a whole (headlined by fourth-year quarterback Daniel Jones and his growth), has been the biggest story of camp so far.

Rookie LB Kayvon Thibodeaux is the player you're most interested to see in the preseason

John Schmeelk: Fiction – After going back and forth a couple of time, let's settle on Evan Neal. The Giants do not have a lot of experienced depth behind Neal at right tackle, making his performance as a competent starting offensive tackle early in the season paramount to the team's success. Even for players that develop into Pro Bowl level offensive linemen, their rookie seasons can be learning experiences with rough patches. Neal gets no favors early in the season with matchups against edge players such as Bud Dupree, Harold Landry, Brian Burns, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Micah Parsons. It will be exciting to watch how he performs in game situations with the pads on in August to get a better idea what September will look like.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It's tough to get a complete look at linemen in practice, and that goes double for edge rushers. The preseason is the first time you will see the fifth overall pick go against a live opponent in a game setting. All eyes will be on No. 5.

Lance Medow: Fiction – There's several players drawing interest in the preseason, but let's put Wan'Dale Robinson slightly ahead of Kayvon Thibodeaux because of the former's versatility. Given Robinson's skillset, there's several different ways they can utilize him within the offense so that adds an extra layer of intrigue. On top of that, he has looked great going back to the Spring and how it translates to actual game situations will be worth watching.

Matt Citak: Fact – It's difficult to get a true sense of how successful a pass rush is at the start of training camp, especially before the pads come on. The Giants have now had a couple of padded practices in camp, and in each one Thibodeaux has showed a flash of how good he could be. But with quarterbacks wearing red in practice, the rookie (along with everyone else on the defense) has not been able to actually finish off his pass rush moves. The preseason will be the first time Thibodeaux will truly be unleashed to finish against opposing quarterbacks, something myself and all Giants fans have been waiting to see.

The Giants put on the pads for the first time this season as training camp ramps up.

CB Darnay Holmes has made the most plays of camp

John Schmeelk: Fact – Holmes has four takeaways (three interceptions and one forced fumble) in seven practices, which is excellent production. No one else has that many big plays on their ledger. Other players have been good more consistently (like fellow cornerback Adoree' Jackson or defensive lineman Leonard Williams) but in terms of overall big-play production, no one has topped Darnay Holmes.

Dan Salomone: Fact – And they're coming at a good time as the Giants look to find their pecking order in the defensive backfield. Holmes has made some outstanding diving interceptions at camp so far.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Darnay Holmes jumped right out of the gates with some opportunistic plays but the receiving corps, especially Kadarius Toney and Wan'Dale Robinson, has made a few more plays. The latter has been extremely active, including throwing in a block here and there (hey, that counts as a play), and the former is building more and more chemistry with Daniel Jones each day.

Matt Citak: Fact – Holmes has been one of the stars of camp through the first week. The third-year corner started training camp off with an interception in each of the first three practices, along with a forced fumble in practice No. 4. Holmes has seemingly been getting his hands on the ball every day, breaking up passes left and right. Holmes has a big opportunity this season, competing to be the Giants' starting slot corner. We still have over a month to go until the Giants travel to Nashville to take on the Titans in Week 1, but through the first week, Holmes has made a strong impression.

WR Wan'Dale Robinson will be used frequently as a running back

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Let's define "frequently" as five times a game; he will not be used as a running back that often. Although he is built well and thick, he is still only 185 pounds, which would make taking a regular pounding around the line of scrimmage problematic. Kadarius Toney can get some of those touches, and Saquon Barkley and Matt Breida are big-play ball carriers in their own right. Robinson could get one or two rushes a game - but not much more – and you wouldn't consider that "frequently."

Dan Salomone: Fiction – "Frequent" might be a stretch. The thing about using wide receivers in the backfield is you need to balance how often to do it. But who knows what Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka have up their sleeve come Sunday. What we do know is they had a "specific" vision for the versatile rookie since Day 1.

Lance Medow: Fact – Robinson is an intriguing player because of his varied skillset and he was used as a running back at Nebraska before he transferred to Kentucky. Although he's not surpassing Saquon Barkley on the depth chart, they'll move him around and line him up in the backfield quite often to keep defenses guessing.

Matt Citak: Fact – It really depends on what we consider "frequently." Robinson is likely to receive some touches out of the backfield, something he's already accustomed to. Before transferring to Kentucky in 2021, Robinson spent two seasons at Nebraska where he racked up a total of 134 rush attempts for 580 yards and four touchdowns. He's no stranger to lining up at running back, but let's not go overboard here. Saquon Barkley is still one of the top running backs in the league when healthy, and most of the time it will be him lining up in the backfield. However, Robinson is likely to spend some time at running back, possibly even with Barkley and Kadarius Toney on the field at the same time. As mentioned at the top of the article, the offense is going to be very creative this season and will cater to the skillsets of the playmakers. For Robinson, that is likely to include some time spent at running back.


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