With training camp upon us, the Giants.com crew makes bold predictions for the summer:
John Schmeelk: I struggle with this question every season. I think it's because I don't know what to consider bold. I am loathe to try to predict surprises because if you can predict them, then they really aren't surprises, are they? You also don't want to be so bold you look like a lunatic predicting something that has the same chance of happening as anyone writing these answers does of dunking on a 10-foot rim without the help of a trampoline. This is why I struggle.
Okay. Here goes nothing. Leeeeeeeeeeeeeroy JENKINS!
At the end of the third preseason game, we won't know who any of the three starting wide receivers will be for the Giants on opening day. Here's my scenario.
In the slot, Parris Campbell has an excellent summer, but Sterling Shepard is activated for the final preseason game and lights it up, showing the same athleticism he did pre-injury. Then, Wan'Dale Robinson gets activated during Labor Day Weekend before final cuts, clouding the picture further. Outside, what if Collin Johnson has a huge summer? Who's starting? I don't know.
At the other outside spot, Darius Slayton performs like the same guy that he has been since getting drafted by the Giants. Jalin Hyatt, however, looks like a future star in practice, running past defenders as a constant deep threat down the field for Daniel Jones. In preseason games, he has three touchdowns of 30 or more yards. Could he start as a rookie? Could Campbell move outside if Shepard or Robinson are ready to be the starting slot? I don't know.
There's my scenario. Holy smokes…did I just see Lance dunk a basketball?
Dan Salomone: First-round pick Deonte Banks will lead the Giants in interceptions throughout training camp and preseason combined. Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale didn't break general manager Joe Schoen's back with a celebratory bear hug for no reason after the team drafted the cornerback out of Maryland. Much was made about the importance of having two quality cornerbacks in his system, but like Martindale said about the rookie, "I think it's important to have a cornerback like that in anybody's defense."
Martindale added, "He's very instinctive. What's Ted Lasso say? He lives life like a goldfish. He's got a short memory when things don't go right. He's tough minded, he's physical, he can tackle and on top of that, he can run. So, we're excited about it. He's getting into the groove. There're still some rookie mistakes, which you expect that, especially this early, but we're really excited. I was obviously really excited that we got him. It was like winning a scratch-off ticket."
Take a look at rare photos of New York Giants training camps through the years.
Lance Medow: The best way to address this topic is to focus on individual players, specifically the ones you figure will see a lot of playing time this summer. I think this year's fifth-round pick, Oklahoma running back Eric Gray, will fully capitalize on his opportunities. Gray is going to be in the mix during both training camp practices and preseason games, and he'll likely see plenty of carries in the latter as well as chances to flash on special teams. Gray proved in college he can turn a short pass into an explosive play, either on the ground or through the air, and we should see several examples of that in the month leading up to the season. Last year, Gary Brightwell was on full display; this year, it's going to be Gray.
The other player to keep close tabs on, who I think will also carve out a role on the team, is Collin Johnson. Last August, he was in position to solidify a spot on the 53-man roster before suffering a torn Achilles late in camp. With so many wide receivers currently in the room, don't forget his experience in the league and familiarity with the system having been with the team last spring and summer. Johnson also offers the position size because, at 6-6, his frame is a bit different from the rest of the group. If Johnson stays healthy and picks up where he left off last training camp, he's going to give the coaching staff something to think about.
Matt Citak: Every year, we see a couple of players break out during training camp/preseason. There are several candidates on both sides of the ball who could earn that honor this season, but let's look at two of last year's Day 3 picks: tight end Daniel Bellinger and safety Dane Belton.
Everyone remembers the size of Bellinger's arms when he arrived at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the team's offseason program a few months back. It was clear that the second-year tight end had not skipped arm day during the offseason, and once the team takes the field at training camp and finally throws some pads on, Bellinger will get a real opportunity to showcase his increased strength. Of course, the Giants made a big splash at the tight end position with their acquisition of Darren Waller from the Raiders. That isn't going to stop Bellinger from putting on a show this summer, which could lead to a lot of two tight end sets once the regular season starts.
As for Belton, let's not forget that the young safety was well on his way to being one of last year's training camp standouts before suffering a clavicle injury. Once he got back on the field in Week 2, Belton went on to register two interceptions and two fumble recoveries throughout his rookie campaign, all while playing just 39 percent of the team's defensive snaps and 34 percent of special teams snaps. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety will have the opportunity to compete for the starting spot next to Xavier McKinney. Remember it was only two seasons ago, in his final year at Iowa, that Belton was tied for the second-most interceptions in the nation with five.