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New York Post Training Camp Preview


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July 23, 2006 -- Whenever they're good, the next year they're bad.


Not since 1993-94 have the Giants put together back-to-back winning seasons, a maddening one-step forward, one-step backward routine that leads to one conclusion: They can't deal with prosperity.


Well, the hype is fast and furious this year, with the Giants coming off an 11-5 season and already talking the Super Bowl talk after revamping their defense and returning every offensive starter. There are plenty of answers, but that doesn't mean the Giants are devoid of questions.


The five key issues for the Giants heading into training camp:




Anyone who caught a glimpse of the Giants last season probably was itching to run some routes or throw some passes against them. Their stone-handed defensive backfield stunk. To make amends, the front office brought in a new crew with the signings of cornerbacks Sam Madison and R.W. McQuarters and safety Will Demps. Second-year corner Corey Webster for the first time moves in as a full-time starter. There's much chemistry and cohesion to create and not much time to ensure everyone is on the same page.




There is no reason to believe Eli Manning in Year No. 3 won't be better than he was last season. That student of quarterbacks, Phil Simms, says he expects to see dramatic improvement from Day One in the way Manning throws the football. The Giants certainly hope so. Everyone is waiting for that quantum leap forward in his development, which may never come. His production last season was more than adequate, but a stark second-half swoon was alarming. He's never going to be a fiery, take-charge personality but he's got to be steadily moving toward quarterback stardom. The Giants didn't unload a heap of draft picks for him to merely "manage the game." That's for lesser players. Eli has to come out slinging and, whether he likes it or not, exude more leadership than he ever has.




It's not a sexy or headline-grabbing battle, but for the defense to remotely return to domination, someone is going to have to emerge at nose tackle to stop the run and direct congestion away from middle linebacker Antonio Pierce. The unexpected free- agent loss of hard-working Kendrick Clancy left a void and the Giants are rolling the dice that among unproven youngsters Jonas Seawright, Damane Duckett and rookie Barry Cofield, one capable run-stuffing defensive tackle will emerge. It's a leap of faith that one of these big men can fill this large void.




For some reason, the Giants are incapable of sustaining success. No matter who is pulling the coaching strings, it sure seems all it takes is a little success to get the Giants too enamored with themselves. This summer, they'll hear how good they are and how much promise this season holds. Ignoring the rising expectations and attending to business is never easy for Big Blue. Here's some free advice: Recall how they didn't come close to scoring or competing in the one and only playoff game last year.




Anyone seeing LaVar Arrington in uniform for the first time will no doubt be in awe of his physical presence. The guy cuts quite a figure on the field. Is he a stud or does he just look like one? The Giants believe Arrington, who fell into disfavor in Washington, can return to greatness as a menacing pass-rushing linebacker. His later years with the Redskins were marred by knee injuries and accusations that he's a freelancer. It will be interesting to see how many practice sessions he misses and how he's able to adapt to a new system.

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