Giants Rumors & News
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The Good

Eli Manning (16 for 30, 281 yards, 2 TD, 0 interceptions in three games) did not get hurt. He didn’t get the flu. He didn’t retire. He didn’t change his name to Dave Brown. Sure, he won the Super Bowl last year but he still needs to be more consistent on a game to game basis. But after last season, his confidence level and leadership abilities have to be much higher. I doubt anybody’s laughing at him anymore – right, Tiki?

The Giants look like they may have struck gold with first-round pick Kenny Phillips. The rookie safety likes to hit, and hit hard. Just ask the offense after a practice. He definitely softens the blow of the Gibril Wilson defection.

The three-headed running attack of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward is healthy (and Danny Ware had an impressive preseason). At least one of them was injured at all times last year. The flexibility to mix and match and keep them all fresh is a big advantage late in games when going against a tired defense. And they’ll be running behind a healthy front line, who are all back together for the second consecutive season. That kind of cohesion can only help.

Domenik Hixon made his presence felt in the preseason. He has the potential to become an all-purpose threat returning kicks and as a receiver. And he’ll be among the league leaders in having his first name spelled wrong.

Ninety-four-year-old punter Jeff Feagles is back. He’s the master of the coffin corner, and with a recently discovered, little-known clause in the league rules, they’re grandfathering in permission for him to wear the original leather helmet he sported when he played for the Canton Bulldogs.

The Bad

The receiving corps didn’t get a lot of preseason game time. Plaxico Burress just started practicing this week, and didn’t come close to playing in a game. Though that didn’t slow him down last year. Amani Toomer, Steve Smith, Sinorice Moss and Mario Manningham only played in one or two games each, so the chemistry with Manning may not click right out of the box. And David Tyree is on the PUP/Reserve list (which hurts the special teams more than the receivers).

The tight ends only caught a handful of passes all preseason. I was all for jettisoning Jeremy Shockey, but the only impressive play by a tight end in the four games was last night’s touchdown by Darcy Johnson.

The defense looked like it was ready to dominate games this season. And then the ugliness happened. See below.

The group of linebackers just got thinner, with Mathias Kiwanuka heading back to the defensive line. Gerris Wilkinson, Danny Clark and Chase Blackburn will have to step up and produce.

Kicker Lawrence Tynes has an injured knee, and will miss the beginning of the season. Josh Huston will fill in until he’s ready, unless the Giants pick up somebody off waivers, as Huston hasn’t been very good.

The Ugly

The main goal of the exhibition season is to avoid serious injuries. The Giants failed miserably in that department. We only have to say two words: Osi Umenyiora. The Pro Bowl linebacker and arguably the team’s best player is out for the season. Kiwanuka will shift back to defensive end to take Umenyiora’s place. While talented and filled with potential, he’s not the proven presence that Osi is and doesn’t have the size and strength of most traditional ends, but does have speed and those freakishly long arms. What was once considered the main strength of the defense―the pass rush―is now a question mark. All eyes will be on Super Bowl hero Justin Tuck and Kiwanuka to see if they can pressure the QB as well as their predecessors. After days of deliberation, Michael Strahan turned down the Giants’ offer to come back. America hadn’t been on the edge of its seat waiting for a decision like this since Vicki Lawrence decided to come back for one more season of Mama’s Family. Next on the list for Big Blue to call: George Martin.

Even though they won’t have Osi or Strahan, this is for the most part a young team with players just coming into their own, and a full year under their belt with Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive system. Nobody’s expecting them to do anything this year, which plays right into their hands because they love being the underdog. I’m predicting a 10-6 season, and a wild card berth.

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