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TEAM PREVIEWS FROM ESPN


jerseygiantfan
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NEW YORK GIANTS (Consensus division finish: 1st)

 

ESPN.com

 

Updated: September 7, 2009, 8:17 PM ET

 

 

BEST OF THE GIANTS

 

Best offensive player: I think you have to go with quarterback Eli Manning. Brandon Jacobs might deserve a few votes, but Manning's the unquestioned leader of this team.

 

Best linebacker: The title still belongs to Antonio Pierce. He plays with a lot of aggression, and he's the emotional leader for the Giants. When the grand jury decided not to indict him in the Plaxico Burress case, Pierce had a lot of stress taken away. He should be refocused now.

 

Best rookie: For most of training camp, third-round pick Ramses Barden outperformed first-rounder Hakeem Nicks. But in the final two preseason games, Nicks started to make big plays. He now has a chance to crack the starting lineup sooner than Barden -- and it could happen as early as September if Steve Smith and Domenik Hixon don't get going.

 

Best practice tactic: I like that safeties coach Dave Merritt makes players scramble to pick up incomplete passes during practice. He reinforces the idea of "scooping" the ball up and then securing it. The Giants are going to cause more turnovers this season. Mark my words.

 

Best defensive end: Of course it's going to be Justin Tuck. He's added some pass-rushing moves this season and I think he could have somewhere in the 16-sack range.

 

 

SCOUTS INC.'S ANALYSIS

 

Strengths

 

Offensive line: This might be the best run-blocking line in the NFL. It does a phenomenal job of firing off the ball in unison and getting to the second level on combo blocks. This season will be a true test for this unit as it will be running versus more eight-man fronts due to the lack of a No. 1 receiver on the outside.

 

Defensive line: The Giants won Super Bowl XLII because they dominated the line of scrimmage on defense, and that should once again be the case with a healthy Osi Umenyiora and the additions of Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard.

 

Running game: The Giants have an excellent one-two punch in Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. This duo possesses an excellent combination of strength, speed and versatility. Look for Bradshaw to carry a bigger load this season, as the Giants will not want to overload Jacobs against eight-man fronts.

 

Weaknesses

 

Lack of a No. 1 WR: The Giants were not the same team after they parted ways with Plaxico Burress last season. They could not get the ball vertical, which meant they could not run the ball as effectively versus the eight-man box or get TE Kevin Boss open over the middle of the field.

 

Speed at LB: The addition of former Atlanta OLB Michael Boley will help, but there are still speed questions with MLB Antonio Pierce and SLB Danny Clark. If there was one weakness with this defense last season, it was the inability to match up linebackers against running backs in the passing game. That could be the case again this season.

 

Inconsistent kicking game: Punter Jeff Feagles is still excellent at placing the ball inside the 20-yard line, but he does not have great leg strength. Place-kicker Lawrence Tynes is not as consistent as the Giants would like him to be.

 

 

 

 

COMPLETE PREVIEW

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Offensive line: This might be the best run-blocking line in the NFL. It does a phenomenal job of firing off the ball in unison and getting to the second level on combo blocks. This season will be a true test for this unit as it will be running versus more eight-man fronts due to the lack of a No. 1 receiver on the outside.

Someone didn't watch most of the 2008 season.

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