The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.
Kayvon Thibodeaux vs. Evan Neal will be the best one-on-one matchup of training camp
Dan Salomone: Fact - These two have been going against each other since their high school showcase camps when they were the first and fourth overall recruits in the 2019 class, respectively. Now, they will do so as the fifth and seventh overall NFL draft picks and teammates to boot. "For me and him, every time we came to a camp, we knew it was like, OK, you know how they're going to set us up," Thibodeaux recalled of their one-on-one battles in high school. "But it was that, like, OK, he's the best, I'm the best. Now let's get better. Let's prove to ourselves on why we got this far."
Lance Medow: Fact – The Giants used a pair of first-round picks on these two players for a reason and there's no better way to prepare for the upcoming season than testing themselves against one another in practice. It will also be their first action with pads on adding even more value to the head-to-head matchup. Thibodeaux will likely move around, but he'll see his fair share of snaps against Neal and how they push each other will help set the tone for their rookie campaigns.
Matt Citak: Fact – We are still about a month away from the start of training camp, but both of the Giants' first-round picks have garnered high praise from their teammates. Thibodeaux and Neal entered the draft as two of the best at their respective positions, with each spending some time of the pre-draft process as the favorite to go first overall. Not only will the one-on-one matchups between the two at training camp be highly entertaining, but they will also provide great learning opportunities for both young men to learn from the other. On a similar note, the Azeez Ojulari vs. Neal matchup is a close second.
The offensive line is the top item you will track this summer
Dan Salomone: Fact – You got a sense of how the depth chart is shaping up during spring practices, but it's a whole new ballgame when the pads come at training camp. The overall progress of the offense is one of the top story lines this season, but as we all know, it only goes as far as the O-line takes it.
Lance Medow: Fiction – The offensive line is the low hanging fruit of the team. It's easy to simply head in that direction based on previous years but with the exception of left guard, we have a pretty good idea who the other four starters will be heading into the season, so the the secondary and even tight end spots are far more interesting to track. The depth chart for both positions groups is unclear as well the as specific roles within their respective schemes.
Matt Citak: Fiction – Although the offensive line will obviously play a significant role, the top thing to track this summer is the overall progress of the offense, and it starts with Daniel Jones. The fourth-year quarterback threw for 3,000+ yards and 24 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, but has failed to mimic those numbers in the two seasons since. Brian Daboll is an incredibly creative offensive mind, evidenced by the success of the Bills' offense over the past few years. It will be key for the entire offense to get comfortable with Daboll's offensive scheme throughout the summer as we approach the start of the regular season in September.
View the best photos from mandatory minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Linebacker Jihad Ward is the sleeper to watch as the regular season approaches
Dan Salomone: Fiction – Travis Toivonen is a name people might not know, but the wide receiver was a frequent target this spring as he made the most of some rehabbing veterans around him. Originally signed as an undrafted rookie out of North Dakota by the Seattle Seahawks, Toivonen spent time on and off the Giants' practice squad last season. At 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, he provides a big frame for Daniel Jones in a new-look offense.
Lance Medow: Fact – You could see Jihad Ward having a Kyler Fackrell-like impact on this year's team. The Giants signed Fackrell prior to the 2020 season and he wound up having a productive season making several game-changing plays including a Pick 6 vs. Dallas in Week 5 to go along with four sacks and 10 quarterback hits in 12 games. Not only do those two play the same position but they also had prior experience working under their Giants' defensive coordinator – Fackrell was with Patrick Graham in Green Bay (Graham was the linebackers coach) in 2018 and Ward played two seasons in Baltimore while Wink Martindale orchestrated the defense. Another player worth mentioning is wide receiver Robert Foster, who was with Brian Daboll in Buffalo for two seasons. Not only is he a vertical threat but also a valuable special teams player. The only difference between Ward and Foster is that Foster has a lot more competition to deal with in order to solidify a roster spot.
Matt Citak: Fact – On the defensive side of the ball, Ward is easily the sleeper player to watch this season. The linebacker is one of a few players with previous experience playing under Wink Martindale, which already gives him a familiarity with the scheme. Ward recently joined the Giants Huddle podcast, where he shared that he would be lining up all over the defense, including on the edge, inside, at nose tackle, the 3-technique, SAM linebacker and outside linebacker. In his final season with the Ravens (2020), he registered 3.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and eight quarterback hits. It wouldn't come as a surprise to see him top all of those numbers this season, considering the talent around him on the defensive line.
Tight end is the most open competition heading into training camp
Dan Salomone: Fact – With the departures of Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith this off-season, the room will have an entirely new look in 2022. Like with the linemen, the spring didn't provide a full look at what the new tight ends can do as blocking is just important as catching at the position. Let the games begin.
Lance Medow: Fact – The key term in this statement is "open" because we know the top three tight ends are likely Ricky Seals-Jones, Jordan Akins and rookie Daniel Bellinger, so it's not so much a numbers game but instead the order of the depth chart and the roles they'll play within the offense. Who will be the main blocker? Will all three serve as components of the passing attack? Could Bellinger surpass the two established veterans, who have ties to members of the coaching staff?
Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants currently have six tight ends on the roster, none of which ended the 2021 season with the team. In fact, Chris Myarick is the only one that has spent any time with the organization prior to this season, and he played just eight games last year. Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins were added during free agency while Daniel Bellinger was selected in the fourth round of the draft. The competition between the tight ends on the roster for the starting spot is going to be a tight one. My early guess would be Bellinger gets the first chance at the starting role due to his abilities as a blocker and receiver.
Take a look at rare photos of New York Giants training camps through the years.
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