Keep Your Eyes Glued On These Giants
With a little over a week left until the Giants officially open training camp at the Timex Performance Center and over three weeks until the team takes the field for the first time in Pittsburgh, it's time to start gearing up for the preseason. This month-and-a-half preamble to the 2013 NFL season will be the first real look that a lot of us will have at the new-and-improved 2013 New York Giants, and there are a lot of players that we'll keeping our eyes peeled for as training camp begins. After an offseason that saw a lot of activity — at least by Giants' standards — there are still a lot of question marks hanging over this team and it should be interesting to see how some of the storylines develop as the season draws nearer, and if there are any new storylines that emerge.
There are a handful of players that should garner special interest from fans and the media as training camp and preseason begins — players whose development during these early stages of the season will be a good indicator of what they'll be able to contribute on the field once the regular season begins in earnest at Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 8.
The first group of players that will be closely watched during the preseason is actually the trio of wide receivers vying to be a part of Eli Manning's arsenal and to become the next Victor Cruz. If you'll remember, Cruz had his first true "breakout moment" in a 2010 preseason game against the New York Jets. It was the first time his name appeared on the radar, and although it took over a year for him to crack the starting lineup in a regular season game, it was the official beginning of the Victor Cruz Story.
This year, the trio of Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy and Jerrel Jernigan will hope to make a similar impact during the preseason for a chance to take their shot at NFL stardom. Of these three, Randle seems to be on the fast track right now as he has been impressive thus far this summer, and showed glimpses of potential at the third receiver spot during his brief moments of action last season. However, both Murphy and Jernigan also have a lot to prove, so expect them to be heavily involved during the preseason as they compete for regular season playing time and try to make their own mark.
Another player to watch for during the preseason is the development of rookie OT Justin Pugh. Pugh is the Giants' first-round draft pick out of Syracuse, and his development during the preseason will be vital for the Giants offense. Training camp and the preseason are important for young linemen — especially ones who will likely see a lot of action during the regular season like Pugh. The offensive line position is a demanding one, and getting down all the complex blocking schemes is important. There's a lot of room for error during the preseason, and it's a perfect time to get all of the kinks worked out. It's also a perfect time to gel with the other linemen and develop the sort of rhythm and continuity that's necessary to have a successful offensive line.
Finally, it will be important to watch how David Wilson is used during the preseason. We've already covered almost every angle on David Wilson's progression this offseason, from being a rookie to competing for a starting spot in the backfield. And now with the preseason right around the corner, we'll finally get to see a preview of how the Giants and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride plan to utilize Wilson this season. Of course Andre Brown, Da'Rel Scott and Ryan Torain will likely get some carries in the preseason as well — especially late in games. The first half of the preseason games is where we'll see Wilson get his chance to earn that starting spot.
Will the Giants dust off their book of screen passes and let Wilson loose in the passing game? Will he split time with Brown in the backfield or handle most of the carries? Will he be used in special teams at all for kickoff or punt returns? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered when it comes to Wilson's role in 2013, and most of them will be answered during the preseason, as we turn the corner and head for the home stretch leading up to the 2013 regular season.