As the season approaches, we will take an in depth look at the defending champions.
Projected starters: LT Will Beatty, LG Kevin Boothe, C David Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT David Diehl.
Backups: T James Brewer, T D.J. Jones, C Jim Cordle, T Sean Locklear
Player to watch: Will Beatty. His back has kept him out of minicamp, training camp and preseason games. He participated in all classes and took plenty of mental reps. But head coach Tom Coughlin was concerned about his starting left tackles injury, and if Beatty can’t suit up on game day, the Giants are in trouble. The entire makeup of the offensive line rests on Beatty’s shoulders. If he cannot overcome the injury, then David Diehl will have to move back to the left side and either James Brewer or Sean Locklear will take over the right side.
Strength: Health. For the Giants, the thing that will help them the most is the fact that everyone but Beatty is healthy and ready to go for the opener. Beatty has been practicing which is always a good sign. Last season the Giants had a new offensive line every single game while Bass, Snee, Diehl and Beatty all dealt with injuries during the season. Beatty was eventually lost for the season due to an eye injury.
The Giants have moved Diehl to right tackle and let the aging Kareem McKenzie go during free agency. Will Beatty is penciled in as the starter at left tackle and the Giants believe he is the answer. Boothe will start at left guard but can play anywhere on the line which increases his value. Bass had an up and down season due to injury. If he can stay healthy the line looks to be a more physical line this year.
If the offensive line can stay healthy, it should be a better unit with a full offseason of work behind them. The Giants won the Super Bowl with a shaky line, and Eli Manning had his best season yet as well. If the Giants have a consistent and healthy line throughout the season, just imagine what that can do.
Weakness: The running game. The passing game last year was tremendous and the Giants did not allow a lot of sacks. It was the running game that kept the Giants to a pedestrian 9-7 record. The Giants finished last in the league in rushing and started to pick it up late in the season. But if the line can’t dominate the line and be more physical, Eli Manning will have to shoulder the load once again. If Manning is given a consistent running game, he will be able to work with his play action and be even deadlier down field.
Hit or miss: Sean Locklear. If Beatty’s back continues to be a problem, Locklear will be getting the start at left tackle. He has been working with the starters and has started the preseason games on the left side. There has been no word as to David Diehl moving back to the left side, so it is safe to assume Diehl will be staying on the right. James Brewer was a fourth round draft pick and the Giants have high hopes for him. But I see Locklear, the veteran, stepping into the starting role if Beatty can’t suit up.
About the Author
Written by Matthew Stapleton
Ridgewood, New Jersey