Jobu previews the New York Giants’ 2013 defense.
Hello Giants fans. Last time, we took a look at the Giants offense to see how they stack up for the 2013 season. This time, we’re going to the other side of the ball and taking a deep look into the Giants defense. Usually, defense is a big reason why the Giants win games. With the way the offense has been struggling this preseason, that might ring true this year too. Let’s see who’s lining up for the G-Men this year.
Up Front Muscle: The Defensive Line
Let’s just get this out of the way right now. Yes, the Giants lost Osi Umenyiora to free agency this year. Yes, that’s a huge loss. No, it won’t be easy to replace him. However, it’s not impossible. For the last decade or so, the Giants have had a knack for developing defensive linemen. Umenyiora was a second round pick out of Troy State, and a bit of a diamond in the rough. While he had to have the talent to be as good as he is, the Giants coaching staff seems to know how to get the best out of their linemen. Just look at Jason Pierre-Paul. Now, JPP was a first round pick, but he was drafted out of South Florida because of his freakish athleticism. It took coaching to make him an elite NFL Defensive End. Justin Tuck, meanwhile, was a third round pick. Same story.
Anyway, Tuck and Pierre-Paul have a spotty injury history, but the Giants are hopeful they will remain healthy throughout 2013. That will go a long way to help replace Osi. Linval Joseph is back at the Left Defensive Tackle slot, while newcomer Cullen Jenkins (a former Eagle) looks to solidify the Right Tackle position. The real position battles will be for one of the backup DE positions. BC Grad Matthias Kiwanuka has one all sewed up, so it’s up to Adrian Tracy, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo (my money is on him after his performance in the Giants’ last game) to step up and claim the last spot. Shaun Rogers, the 34-year old will most likely see a lot of time at DT too. Don’t forget about rookie Johnathan Hankins either. The line could be very formidable indeed. Like on the O-Line, the Giants like to use a lot of options on the D-Line, so all of these guys will have an impact at some point.
New Faces Abound: The Linebackers
Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn are gone, so let’s start with a couple of new additions on the linebacking corps. Keith Rivers is expected to start on the strong-side. The Giants grabbed Rivers in a trade with the Bengals a couple of years ago, and is a former first-round pick, but his injury history is a mile long. Can he stay healthy enough to run the strong side? That remains to be seen. Spencer Paysinger is expected to start opposite Rivers as the weak side OLB. He appears to be ahead of backup Jacquian Williams, who is coming off of a PCL injury, on the depth chart, which is a big opportunity for a guy who mostly played special teams last year. Ultimately, one of those two guys will step up and wrestle the job away from the other.
The biggest battle in camp has been the fight for the starting Middle Linebacker position. As I mentioned earlier, Super Bowl hero Chase Blackburn has James Taylored it to Carolina, so he must be replaced. The candidates to win the job are BC Grad Mark Herzlich and newcomer Dan Connor. Herzlich’s story is pretty well known, having missed some time at BC while battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer. He beat the disease and signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent. Connor came over as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys this off-season and has been slowly proving himself worthy of some serious playing time. He started the preseason on the second team, but started the last pre-season game. He played well, which might spell the end of Herzlich’s starting hopes.
One other name to note is backup hopeful Kyle Bosworth. The Giants want to see if Bosworth has what it takes to be more than just a special teams guy. Also, he’s Brian Bosworth‘s nephew, and engaged to the daughter of one of the O.C. Housewives… pretty cool.
Piecing it Together: The Defensive Backfield
This is where things get tricky for the Giants. The Giants jettisoned Kenny Phillips this off-season, electing to go with last year’s standout, Stevie Brown and his partner Antrel Rolle in the backfield. Unfortunately, Brown tore his knee up against the Jets and will miss the entire season… ouch. That means someone’s gonna have to step up to fill Brown’s shoes. It is expected that Ryan Mundy will start alongside Rolle (assuming Rolle comes back from an injury of his own). Mundy came over from the Steelers this off-season, so at least he knows what good defense is supposed to look like. Hopefully he can handle starting for the G-Men. If Rolle can’t get healthy, there’s talks that the Giants might end up bringing Phillips back for depth. He was recently waived by the Eagles. David Caldwell and Will Hill (assuming the Giants don’t get fed up with him after his second suspension) will compete for the backup free safety job, while Cooper Taylor and Tyler Sash compete to back up Rolle.
The Cornerback slots will be filled by Corey Webster, who is entering his 9th year as a Giant, and Prince Amukamara, whom the Giants are hoping can finally solidify himself as a starter and stay healthy. They did pick him in the first round, after all. Backing them up will be Aaron Ross, who is returning to the Giants after playing in Jacksonville last year. The Giants are also hoping that Jayron Hosley can shake off his rookie struggles from last year and really contribute in 2013. Terrell Thomas is the feel-good story of camp for sure. He hasn’t played a down since 2010 because of back-to-back torn ACLs. He’s torn his ACL three times in his career. I’m hoping he can sneak onto the roster as a nickleback or something, because it would be a shame to lose him.
That’s it for the defense, folks. Next time, we’ll take a brief look at the special teams!
Featured image courtesy of: Getty Images
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