Monday, July 23, 2012

New York Giants Camp Preview: Defensive Line


A new NFL season is right around the corner as training camp is quickly approaching.  Leading up to the start of training camp, we will have a run down position-by-position for the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. 

The first position we will take a look at is the defensive line.

The projected starters along the defensive line are Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty and Linval Joseph.  Projected reserves expected to make an impact are ends Osi Umenyiora, Justin Trattou and Adrian Tracy and at tackle Rocky Bernard, Marvin Austin, and Shaun Rogers. 

The new additions to the line are Rogers and Markus Kuhn, as the Giants saw defensive end Dave Tollefson and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy leave.

The player to watch out of this group is Pierre-Paul.  Pierre-Paul had a breakout season in 2011-2012, racking up 16.5 sacks.  He joined Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor as the only Giants to ever get 16 or more sacks in a season.  Pierre-Paul will have all eyes on him as teammates and opponents will be looking out to see if he can have another successful season piggybacking off his first Pro Bowl appearance.

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Duplicating his previous season will be no small task for Pierre-Paul, who made big plays on more than just defense.  Giant fans have fond memories of Pierre-Paul blocking the Dallas Cowboys field goal attempt to seal a win.  

It is scary to think that Pierre-Paul is still coming into his own and growing as an NFL player.  He is just still scratching the surface of his potential and it will be interesting to see how he grows and develops this season against teams that will surely be game-planning against him this season.

The Giants have arguably the best pass rush in the NFL and there is no reason to believe this strength will change this coming season.  Umenyiora for the first time in what seems forever will actually be in camp not complaining about his contract after agreeing to a restructuring earlier in the off-season.  Tuck has fixed his shoulder which gave him problems last season and is highly motivated to reach the level of play he is accustomed to playing at before injuries ravaged him.  JPP is an emerging star and factor in Mathias Kiwanuka being a situational pass rusher, the pass rush of the Giants remains their biggest strength nest to Eli Manning.

With every great thing, there is almost always a negative to follow and the same goes for the Giants defensive line.  Stopping the run is potentially a problem for this unit; opponents topped the 100 yard mark in 11 of 16 regular season games.  Canty and Joseph are solid tackles and with Bernard back and Austin returning after missing his whole rookie season should help shore up the run defense.  Rogers is a veteran and can handle himself.  The use of more linebackers on the field should also help in stopping the run game, as the Giants should look like a more traditional defense this season using three linebackers instead of three safeties.

The wild card of this group is Marvin Austin.  Austin has not played in a football game in two seasons, having to sit out his last year at North Carolina University and suffering an injury his rookie season in camp.  The Giants are eager to see what they have in Austin, as they used a second round pick on him last year with the thinking that he was a first round talent had it not been for the NCAA violations.  Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell is excited to add Austin into the mix, saying he adds a dimension to the team with quickness that could proof troublesome for offensive lineman from the defensive tackle position.  

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