Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New York Giants Camp Preview: Defensive Backs

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 third position we will take a look at is defensive back.

The projected defensive starting backs are Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas at cornerback and Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle at safety.  Expected reserves to make an impact at cornerback are Jayron Hosley, Prince Amukamara, Michael Coe and Justin Tryon; at safety Tyler Sash and Stevie Brown are expected to see playing time.

New additions to the secondary this season are Hosley, Brown, cornerback Antwaun Molden, safeties Will Hill and JoJo Nicolas and defensive backs Janzen Jackson and Dante Hughes.

There are a few members from last year’s unit that will not be returning this season in Aaron Ross, Will Blackmon, Derrick Martin and Deon Grant.  Grant has the best chance of returning, as he is a great locker room presence and had such a positive impact on the Giants the last few seasons.

The player to watch out of the defensive backs is Terrell Thomas.  Thomas has been cleared for training camp and avoided a scare early on suffering a slight injury to his ACL.  Last season Thomas suffered his second career ACL tear after having an outstanding camp and looking poised to really breakout.  Thomas will upgrade the Giants defensive back unit greatly if he can return to where he was before the ACL injury; Thomas led the Giants defense in tackles the previous two seasons.

The potential for the defensive backs to be a strength for the Giants is there.  It will be a competitive unit throughout camp and barring injury can be deep.  Coe and Tyron shined during OTA’s and mini-camps according to Thomas, as they took up snaps he left behind while taking it slowly with his injury.  General Manger Jerry Reese also added some talent with Brown, Molden and Horton being signed in addition to drafting Hosley.  Cornerback Brandon Bing also received praise from defensive coordinator Perry Fewell for his play throughout OTA’s.

Another thing to watch for is the development of Amukamara.  Amukamara injured his foot in his second career practice last season and was never able to get back on track, struggling throughout the season.  He will benefit from a full training camp and preseason this time around.  If he is unable to bounce back, look for veterans Coe and Tryon to pick up the slack and possibly Bruce Johnson, who is returning from his own season ending injury. 

Health is the biggest deterrent for this group.  Thomas, Coe, Tryon and Johnson are all returning from season-ending injuries.  Thomas already suffered a scare in camp and if he is unable to return to form the Giants will need someone to step up after Aaron Ross left to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Amukamara needed an injection in his foot to strengthen it after missing over half of last season.  With Grant remaining unsigned, the Giants are also without valuable experience and leadership in the locker room.

The wild card of this group is Amukamara.  He was brought in with high expectations as the Giants were shocked to see him fall to them in the 2011 NFL Draft with the 19th pick.  Most of his rookie year was lost because of his foot injury and the lockout being in place but a full off-season should benefit him.  He was drafted with the expectation of being a starting cornerback for the Giants in the near future; that future could be as early as this season as he will have to take over for the departed Ross and will be first in line to take over if Thomas is unable to perform.

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