Saturday, April 28, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Pre-Game News and Notes: Game 1

Saturday, April 28, 2012 3:30 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat
Game 1 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals 0-0 Series

The NBA Playoffs are finally here.  It has been a crazy season with the lockout condensing the playing schedule and a roller coaster ride for the Knicks but they have gotten to where they wanted to be.  This will be the most intriguing first round match-up because of the history of the Knicks and Heat and also because this is the match-up with the most star power.

The Knicks are riding a wave of confidence into the playoffs, accomplishing many feats even though there were shaky times in the season.  The Heat present a very difficult match-up obviously finishing 46-20 in the regular season.  That does not mean the Heat are perfect though, as taking a closer look you’ll see the Heat have holes just like any other team.  The Knicks could be the perfect team to ruin the Heat’s NBA Final’s expectations.

-Injury News and Notes

The Knicks have a huge question mark going into the first game of the series this afternoon.  Sometime between Thursday and Friday, Tyson Chandler contracted flu-like symptoms.  Mike Woodson has been saying there is a very good chance that Chandler will miss game 1.  The players are saying otherwise, but even with talk that Chandler may miss the game is no good.

Chandler is the heart and soul of the Knicks defense and not having him play would be disastrous.  There is so much that he brings to the game even when he is not actually playing. 

I believe that if Chandler is not seriously injured he will be on the court.  He did not come to New York to sit out playoff games and watch from the bench.  Once the adrenaline kicks in and things get going I would fully expect Chandler to be doing his thing on the court.

In other news, everything seems as it was a few days ago.  Both Baron Davis and Jared Jeffries are not 100%, but will be suiting up.  They will give the Knicks everything they can, even if it is in limited amounts of minutes.  At this point, even a little something is better than nothing because as the playoffs come around, all hands are on deck.

-X-Factor Bosh

The Knicks need to handle Chris Bosh.  They can not let him go off in any of the games if they want a realistic chance of winning this series.  You know what Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are going to give you so stopping Bosh is key.  If the Knicks can keep him from consistently knocking down his 17 foot jump shot it would go a long way. 

It will be a big decision of who guards Bosh for the Knicks.  Stoudemire is a lesser defender than Chandler, but Chandler is needed to be as close to the basket as he can so he can control the boards.  Stoudemire is going to have to step up his game on the boards and on defense for the Knicks to succeed in the series.

-3-Point Shooting

If the Knicks are going to make noise in this series, it will come down to 3 point shooting.  The Heat are one of the worst teams in the NBA at defending the 3 point line and that is something the Knicks can take advantage of.

The Knicks have gunners Steve Novak and J.R. Smith who can shoot the ball from anywhere on the court.  If they are able to get going in any game, they can single handedly change the outcome on 3 point shooting alone. 

The perfect formula for the Knicks would be to work the inside out game.  Look to dominate the paint early and often and then look outside.  If they can get some easy looks at the rim from the start, the perimeter will open up once the Heat have to sag their defense and protect the paint.  Novak, Smith and the rest of the Knicks will then have open looks and will just need to convert.

-Limit Turnovers

The Heat are one of the most athletic teams in the NBA and fully use it their advantage.  Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are always looking to play passing lanes and cause turnovers to get into the open court to start some fireworks on the fast break.  The Knicks have to do their best in limiting those opportunities and lowering their NBA high turnover rate. 

Miami is very dangerous in the open court because of James and Wade.  The Knicks have to make it a point to slow that down as much as possible.

One positive the Knicks have going for them is that they have two postseason proven and experienced point guards in Baron Davis and Mike Bibby.  Both understand playoff basketball and how much different of an atmosphere it is.  Look for them to help keep the younger Knicks composed along with other team leaders Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire.  

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Benches

This is the sixth and final installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The last match-up will be between the bench units.

Coming into the season, both the Knicks and Heat had question marks about their second units.  The Knicks were looked at as a team with only two scoring options and a bunch of other guys.  The Heat had that problem last season and looked to alleviate it with the addition of Shane Battier to go along with a healthy Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller.  But now that the playoffs are actually here, it is the Knicks who have the more secure bench and Heat with question marks.

If the Knicks are looking to actually make noise in the series, the bench is going to have to gain a distinct advantage over the Heat.  If you go by the regular season numbers that is exactly what the Knicks should be able to accomplish.  The Knicks bench averaged a solid 30 points per game compared to 26 for the Heat’s bench. 

There is a real possibility that number can skyrocket for the Knicks though based on the personnel and make up of each team’s second unit.  The Heat’s focus is to stop the dribble drive of opponents, and that is something the Knicks should be able to take advantage of.  If the slashers on the second unit in Landry Fields and J.R. Smith are able to attack the paint it will create open looks for the Knicks shooters.  It will then fall on the shoulders of Steve Novak and J.R. Smith to knock down their open jump shots and make the most of the opportunities given to them. 

Novak has been deadly all season from 3 point range and everyone knows how capable Smith is of going off at any moment.  If Fields is able to regain any of his shooting form from last year in addition to the hot streak Carmelo Anthony has been on the Knicks will be deadly.  Any threat the Knicks can work up outside of Novak and Smith will be a huge. 

Where the Knicks may struggle some with the bench squad is on the defensive end.  Jared Jeffries is questionable at best because of a sore knee which has bothered him for much of the past eight weeks.  Jeffries isn’t expected to play more than 15 minutes a game for the Knicks, leaving them with a huge void on the defensive end. 

The worst part is that the Knicks do not have a clear decision of who will pick up the slack for Jeffries.  Dan Gadzuric was signed last week because of the concerns over Jeffries, but he looks out of shape and incapable of picking up any sort of meaningful minutes right now.  Josh Harrellson has shown the ability to play well, but seems to not have the full trust of Mike Woodson.  Woodson will have to get creative in filling the void left behind by Jeffries.

The advantage for the benches goes to the Knicks.  Novak and Smith are capable of knocking down shots in bunches and can turn a series quickly in favor for the Knicks.  The Knicks bench has come a long way this season, and actually is a big reason the Knicks have made it this far, in comparison to the Heat who have yet to find consistent production from their bench unit even with the additions they have made.

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Center

This is the fifth installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The fifth match-up will be between the Center position.

Match-Up: Tyson Chandler vs. Joel Anthony

No disrespect to Joel Anthony, but this might be the most lopsided match-up in the series.  “I think Tyson gives you all the intangibles – he gets charges, rebounds, emphatic dunks.  He’s so active.  Not that Joel Anthony isn’t, but I think this is a distinct advantage for New York,” said the scout.

Tyson Chandler is thought of to be many things for the Knicks.  One scout believes that Chandler is the emotional glue for the Knicks and that could not be any more accurate of a statement.  Chandler provides the Knicks not only with some of the best rim protection any player can give in the NBA, but he also gets the Knicks fired up, focused and ready to go.  Chandler also brings invaluable experience with his NBA Finals run last season that ended in a victory over these Miami Heat players.  Chandler needs to help the Knicks by keeping Bosh off the glass and dominating the boards; something he should not have a problem with since he has been doing it all season long.  Chandler is the driving force behind the Knicks turnaround from the putrid defense in 2010-2011 to the top five defense they were this season. 

Many scouts point out that the Heat have been very good at taking away the pick-and-roll of opposing teams.  This could cause problems for the Knicks and Chandler since that is the main source of Chandler’s scoring opportunities.  Mike D’Antoni was adamant in pointing out that the Knicks missed Chandler a number of times in the first match-up with the Heat.  Those opportunities never seemed to be available again after that, as Chandler was held to only eight field goals in the last two games against the Heat. 

It should be pointed out though that Chandler was injured half way through the second half of the most recent meeting April 15th in the Garden. 

Another thing to keep an eye on as a Knicks fan is the amount of technical fouls that Chandler raked up.  He finished with 11 technicals, tied for most on the team with Carmelo Anthony.  Chandler plays with a lot of emotion and passion which can sometimes get him in trouble.  He can still play tough and aggressive, but he is going to have to keep his emotions in check because giving away free points to the Heat will only make it harder on the Knicks. 

The advantage at the center position goes to the Knicks.  There are not many players in the NBA that can have the impact on a game Chandler can without scoring a boatload of points.  

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Power Forward

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The fourth match-up we will take a look at another big time match-up at the power forward position. 

Match-up: Amar’e Stoudemire vs. Chris Bosh

Yet another high profile match-up in this series between the Knicks and Heat.  This will be an interesting confrontation because Stoudemire and Bosh have become second or third options at times, yet have the ability to win games by themselves if need be. 

For Stoudemire to excel in the series, the best opportunity will come in the pick-and-roll situations, if they are even available.  For much of the season, Stoudemire has not been the main screener.  Instead, the Knicks have had Tyson Chandler fill that role.  But against the Heat, Stoudemire is the more dangerous screener because of his ability to knock down a perimeter jump shot. 

If Mike Woodson can draw up some plays for Stoudemire being the main screener it would go a long way for the Knicks.  Woodson has been able to adapt to situations so far since he has become head coach, but doing it in the playoffs is a whole different story.  If Stoudemire is given the opportunities and makes the most of his chances it gives the Knicks an advantage not too many teams have in a jump shooting big man. 

Another positive with Stoudemire is that he seems to have been regaining some of his explosiveness and pop towards the end of the season.  He really looked good before the back injury derailed him for about a month, but even in the last four games of the regular season you could see some of his athleticism returning.  A good example of this was the monstrous dunk he threw down over Tyrus Thomas in the season finale against the Bobcats for an and-one and a lot of ooh’s and aah’s from the crowd.

The place Stoudemire can be exploited is the same place he has been exploited all season, which is on the defensive end.  It should be acknowledged that of the 48 shot attempts that Bosh has taken in the half-court against the Knicks, Stoudemire has guarded him for only one of those attempts.  Chandler has assumed responsibility of guarding Bosh for most of the game, but that has a real possibility of changing.  Bosh plays more around the elbow extended, so having Chandler guard Bosh for extended periods of time could bring the Knicks big man too far away from the basket.

This may cause Woodson to commit Stoudemire to guarding Bosh.  The numbers suggest that this will be a match-up that Bosh will take advantage of.  Bosh has averaged 21 points per 36 minutes that Stoudemire is on the court over the past two seasons.  It should be noted though that the numbers do not go into specifics about how much Stoudemire is actually guarding Bosh.

It Stoudemire is matched up against Bosh another thing he will have to worry about is keeping Bosh off the glass.  That has not been a strength for Stoudemire much of this season, but hopefully with it being playoff time his commitment and attitude will change like the rest of the roster has under Mike Woodson.  Woodson has preached more of a team effort and less selfishness and it is about time Stoudemire bought in more such as Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith has. 

Another match-up and yet another advantage for the Heat.  Stoudemire has been so inconsistent this season that it seems hard for the Knicks to count on him.  His short comings on defense and rebounding this season are causes for concern against Bosh and the Heat.  If Stoudemire can find his old form it would be greatly beneficial for the Knicks, but until then the advantage leans in the Heat favor.

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Small Forward

This is the third installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The third match-up we will take a look at is the small forward position where the superstars reside.

Match-up: Carmelo Anthony vs. Lebron James

This is the match-up everyone will have their eyes on.  The superstar that wanted the limelight and bright lights of New York City and the superstar that shied away from it.  Carmelo Anthony vs. Lebron James.  They have been going at it against each other for years, dating back to their high school days.  There is no bigger stage to take their rivalry than the NBA playoffs.  Both will come out firing wanting to put on a show for a national audience.

Carmelo Anthony has had his most success against the Heat this season from the perimeter.  In the two regular season games versus the Heat this season, Anthony averaged four 3 point makes per game.  This works well for the Knicks because Anthony has been on fire from deep throughout April, shooting a Steve Novak-esque 46%.  If he can knock down his deep jumpers, it will force James to stay away from the basket guarding Anthony.  That will open up opportunities for the other Knick players to take advantage of. 

Anthony has also been able to exploit James while driving to the basket.  Anthony has one of, if not the quickest first step and blow by dribble in the NBA.  It makes it difficult for players to guard him because he can then explode and finish at the rim or shoot a pull-up jumper over a defender.  This style of play also gives Anthony plenty of opportunities to get to the foul line.  Anthony averaged eight trips to the line for every 36 minutes James was on the court.  Obviously, not all the fouls counted against James but if Anthony can get James in foul trouble it will be one less superstar the Knicks have to worry about. 

The offense will run through Anthony and if he is able to knock down his shots and draw fouls it will force the Heat to throw more than one defender at him.  If the Heat show more focus on Anthony, he is a more than capable passer and will find the open teammate if given the chance.  It will then come down to the other Knicks making the most of Anthony’s passes to finish the job.

On the flip side, there are times Anthony may struggle.  It is nearly impossible for anyone to guard James, so that is where the challenge will come for Anthony.  When Anthony is committed to playing defense, he is capable of getting stops.  One example is the game the Knicks won in Miami last season when the final play of the game was Anthony forcing James into a tough shot at the rim and Amar’e Stoudemire coming over for the block.  That was great defensive effort.  But there are times he does not show that effort, and it hurts the Knicks.

You can count on Anthony bringing the intensity for this one, wanting to show people he’s just as good as James is.  But if Anthony is not on top of his game, the Knicks will struggle.  Anthony has to find a way to stay in front of James and not allow him to prance into the paint.  Such advances into the paint would destroy the Knicks defense as they would have to collapse on the driving James and leave open shots for his teammates.  It may also put Anthony in foul trouble, who has been prone to fouls this season; multiple times picking up his fourth foul early in the second half.  Not having Anthony on the court for any amount of time other than his normal rest would destroy the offense. 

There is a positive for this, as James has shot only 46% against the Knicks while Anthony was on the court.  That sounds good for an NBA player, but is 10% lower than his normal averages.  Even with that, the edge in this match-up is in the Heat’s favor.  It is closer than people think, but James has the edge on defense and that proves to be the difference in this match-up.

Friday, April 27, 2012

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Shooting Guard

This is the second installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The second match-up we will take a look at the shooting guard position.

Match-up: Iman Shumpert vs. Dwayne Wade

This will be quite a match-up to watch throughout the series.  Shumpert and Wade are both super athletic and are fun players to watch for a number of reasons.  It will be fun watching them go back and forth.

Shumpert will excel in this match-up in one-on-one defense.  Mike Woodson has been quoted as saying that Shumpert “changes the game from a defensive standpoint.”  Shumpert led the Knicks with 1.7 steals per game, good for second among rookies and seventh in the NBA.  Shumpert is a great all-around defender, but is dominant in two areas specifically.

The first is on the perimeter.  Shumpert is harasses players on the perimeter thanks to a 6’5” 220 pound super athletic frame.  He has long arms and is always moving making it very difficult for whomever he is guarding on defense.  Shumpert causes players to speed up and become uncomfortable, rushing passes and disrupting their views with his long arms. 

Shumpert can potentially cause Wade to slow down the ball movement because of the visibility issues Shumpert will cause.  This will give the Knicks defense and advantage because they will be able to keep up their rotations and be in position to slow down the Heat.  This plays right into the other area in which Shumpert dominates, which is on help defense. 

With his size, Shumpert has the ability to drop down onto post players, which is valuable because the Knicks do a lot of switching on defense.  He then has the defensive instincts to quickly rotate back to his original player to finish off the full rotation.  Shumpert always has his head on a swivel while playing defense, giving him great instincts and never having a delayed response.  He has great awareness of what is going on around him and guarding Wade, a fellow Chicagoan should only fire up Shumpert even more, as if he didn’t have enough reason to come into the playoffs fired up and with intensity. 

The problem for Shumpert is that Wade is still Wade.  He is a top flight player in the NBA and will give Shumpert all he can handle.  Shumpert is a great defender, but Wade will get his at points in the game.  The Heat have two advantages with Wade over Shumpert.  The first is using the pick-and-roll game.  Wade is not a point guard, but he knows his way around the pick-and-roll game and is very crafty.  He can split the double team and explode to the rim, which will cause problems for the Knicks when Tyson Chandler is not in the middle. 

Second is Wade’s improved post-up game.  Wade and Shumpert are almost identical in size, but Wade is light years ahead of Shumpert basketball wise.  Wade can score from multiple spots on the floor making Shumpert’s assignment that much tougher.  In the post, Wade can cause problems for Shumpert with pump and ball fakes.  Shumpert has to stay on his feet or else he will get killed by Wade and the referees.  Shumpert has to be carefully about how he handles Wade because any close call is going to go his way.

The Heat again have the advantage here.  Even if he is less than 100%, Wade is still better than a majority of the NBA.  Wade is also a great defender in his own right and is ahead of Shumpert obviously on the offensive end.  This is also a position where the Heat have a distinct advantage in playoff experience.  Shumpert, being a rookie, obviously has no playoff experience compared to Wade who will be taking part in his eighth postseason.  Foul trouble will be something Shumpert needs to avoid as he will be responsible for guarding Wade for long stretches at time and will be needed to guard Lebron James at times also.   

New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat Position Match-Ups: Point Guard

This will be the first installment in a series of posts breaking down the match-ups between the Knicks and Heat position by position.  The first match-up will be at the point guard position.

Match-up: Baron Davis vs. Mario Chalmers

This match-up will have more of an effect on the series than people think.  With so much star power being showcased, Davis and Chalmers can sometimes get lost in the shuffle but will play big roles.

Davis is slower now because of injuries, but he is still a big body that can cause problems for Chalmers.  At 6’3” and 215 pounds, Davis can keep Chalmers at bay, while still allowing Davis do his thing on offense.  Having such a size differential look for Davis to get into the paint and cause some problems.  If Davis is able to attack the paint it will allow for easy scoring opportunities for Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire.  

Davis should also have his fair share of opportunities at the 3 point line.  The Heat put a lot of emphasis on their athleticism on the wings with Dwayne Wade and Lebron James trying to get into the open court.  This at times saps their energy, meaning slower rotations and open jump shots for the opposing offense, in this case the Knicks.  Davis may be hampered overall because of nagging injuries, but he is a veteran and is crafty enough to make things happen.  His veteran leadership and playoff experience, making the postseason six times prior, will help keep the young Knick players in line whether he’s on the field or on the bench. 

There are some negatives for Davis though.  The first obviously is health concerns.  Davis will provide strong first quarters playing well out of the gate.  But, as the game wears on, the pain increases in his hamstring, severely hindering his performance.  Intensity and physical contact are increased in the playoffs, which is not good for a player as injured as Davis.

Another tough thing is that the Heat play great pick-and-roll defense, which is what Davis, thrives in.  The Heat’s athleticism makes it tough on teams to run the pick-and-roll because they can recover so quickly and play the passing lanes. 

The advantage in this match-up I will say goes to the Heat.  Chalmers is less of a concern with what is asked of him than Davis is for the Knicks.  This match-up has a whole different ring to it though when J.R. Smith enters the game.  With J.R. Smith running the point, the Knicks have a distinct advantage over the Heat, but Chalmers gives the Heat the advantage when Davis is in the game.  

10 Things to Get You Excited About Knicks vs. Heat First Round Match-Up

The NBA Playoffs are finally here and for the second consecutive season the Knicks will be taking part.  The Knicks are going to start to rekindle their rivalry with the Miami Heat starting Saturday, April 28th at 3:30 P.M. ET.  Here are 10 things that should get you excited about the first-round match-up with the Heat as if it wasn’t exciting enough to watch your team in the playoffs. 

10.) Lebron Comes to Madison Square Garden

When Lebron James became a free agent in the summer of 2010, he entertained the idea of joining the New York Knicks.  We all know how it turned out in the end, with James joining his buddies in South Beach to make a big three with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  This upset many Knicks fans, many of who still hold a grudge to this day.  Nothing would make Knick fans happier than sending James and his buddies home with an early exit in the playoffs and yet another season without a ring. 

9.) Which J.R. Smith Will Show Up?

Knick fans are starting to realize what Nugget and Hornet fans already knew in that Smith is the definition of a streak shooter.  This has resulted in some games in which Smith has been unconscious at the Garden.  The night that sticks in most fans minds is the game in which he knocked down seven 3 pointers in a half against the Celtics.  On the other hand, there are times where Mike Woodson and Knick fans like are left shaking their heads in disbelief.  Smith is a huge x-factor coming off the bench in this series and if he can provide for highlights than head-scratchers it would make an above average Knicks offense that much more potent.

8.) Can the Knicks Grab a Victory?

The Knicks are making their second consecutive trip to the playoffs, but this is only the third time in the last decade they are doing so.  They have not won a playoff game, let alone a series, since Jeff Van Gundy was head coach in 2001.  A terrible taste was left in the mouth of the Knicks players, staff and fans alike because of a sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics.  Can the Heat provide mouthwash for the Knicks this time around?

7.) Mike Woodson’s Future

Mike Woodson led the Knicks on a ferocious charge after being named interim head coach, going 18-6 to end the season. With the great job he did, Woodson has given himself a legitimate chance of being named the head coach on a full-time basis for next season.  Woodson can boost his chances by having the Knicks put on a good performance this postseason.  The way to get that done is by having the Knicks show the same defensive intensity they showed throughout the end of the regular season. 

6.) Which Amar’e Will Show?

Amar’e Stoudemire had a tough regular season, but was able to end it with a high note against the Bobcats Thursday night, scoring 21 points and throwing down a monster dunk over Tyrus Thomas.  Will Stoudemire be able to bring that aggressiveness into the playoff series against the Heat?  With Stoudemire sidelined the Knicks were unable to find a consistent scorer behind Carmelo Anthony.  Hopefully Stoudemire will fill that role like envisioned when the season started.

5.) Shooting Guard Match-Up, Shumpert vs. Wade

Iman Shumpert lived up to the hype that was surrounding him upon getting drafted as being a defensive stopper.  Shumpert has wowed the crowd all season long with his aggressiveness and prowess on the defensive end, finishing seventh in the NBA in steals per game with 1.7.  Those steals would more times than not end in a highlight play at the other end.  Shumpert will have his hands full in the series against Dwayne Wade.  Shumpert will not be able to stop Wade cold in his tracks, but can he at least slow him down some?  This will be a fun match-up to watch.

4.) Carmelo Anthony on Fire

The Knicks were carried single-handedly by Anthony to finish the second half of the season once Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire went down with injuries.  Anthony put up dominant stats throughout the month of April, averaging 29.8 points per game and shooting 49.5% from the field and 46% from 3 point land.  The Knicks will need the same effort from Anthony if they have any hope of making some noise against the Heat in the first round.

3.) Chandler Culture Change

The defense chants have rang throughout the Garden for years.  For the first time in what seems like forever, the Knicks are actually responding to them. Chandler is the reason behind this turnaround.  He defends the paint as well as any big man in the NBA and set the tone for the Knicks right when he walked through the doors for the first time.  The Knicks were a laughing stock on defense last season, and have made a complete 180 degree turn into a top five defense this season.  Will that play continue throughout the playoffs?

2.) Bomb Squad

Steve Novak has come out of nowhere to become the most beloved player for the Knicks.  Every time he enters the game the crowd gives a loud cheer, and whenever he touches the ball on the court the crowd gets into a feverish buzz.  There is good reason for fans to react in such a way, as he shot an unheralded 47% from 3 point range this past season.

1.) Superstar Match-up

Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James have been going at it for years, dating all the way back to their high school days.  They are now on the biggest stage of all to showcase their skills in the NBA playoffs.  Anthony is playing arguably his best basketball of his career, and it could not have come at a better time for the Knicks.  This adds even more intrigue to this match-up because you know Lebron James will come in prepared and ready to go.  It is not time for Anthony to show why the Knicks traded all those players for him, and to show James what he is missing when you get a New York home crowd behind you.  

Kiwanuka Signs with Giants

Mathias Kiwanuka has signed a three year extension with the Giants according to ESPN New York.

New York Jets Select Quinton Coples with First Pick
With the 16th pick in the NFL draft the New York Jets took Quinton Coples out of North Carolina. The 6-6 280 lb defensive end has been praised for his overall athletic ability, but was also criticized for selfish attitude, and lack of consistency on the field. Coples has been known to take plays off during games, and not going full speed for the full 60 minutes. Taking plays off will not be tolerated by the Jets, and sometimes could lead to injury on the field. 

Overall this was a good pick for the Jets. They got a big defensive end who knows how to play in the 3-4 and 4-3 defenses, and he can get to the quarterback. Coples tallied 17.5 sacks in his last two seasons. He can also play on the interior line like the Giants do with Justin Tuck. Coples will have an immediate impact and will help the Jets forget about their dreadful pick in 2008, Vernon Gholston. 

Anyone know what Gholston is up to these days?

New York Giants Select RB David Wilson

With the 32nd pick in the First Round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Running Back, David Wilson of Virginia Tech.  The Giants were in need of a running back after Brandon Jacobs left this off-season and signed with the San Francisco 49ers, so drafting Wilson not only added talent but filled a need.  This is the earliest the Giants have taken a running back since drafting Ron Dayne out of Wisconsin in the first round in 2000.

Wilson is 5’9” tall and weighs 206 poundsWilson has big-play ability, which is something the Giants rushing game sorely lacked this past season.  He had runs of 51, 68 and 57yards long in the last three seasons at Virginia Tech.  Another thing the Giants liked is the overall production Wilson had.  Last season he ran for 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns, breaking the 100 yard mark in 10 separate games, tying the Virginia Tech single-season record.  He also added 22 receptions of out the backfield for 129 yards and a touchdown.  All in all, Wilson ended the season with 2,253 all purpose yards and was a first team All-American. 

That may be what the Giants actually covet most and could be the big reason why the Giants selected Wilson.  He is a more than capable return man, going for 1,324 kickoff return yards and two touchdowns in his three years at Virginia Tech.  Wilson offers the Giants another option to the backfield and can bring some excitement to the return game as well, two areas in which the team struggled in last season. 

Wilson should be able to come in and compete for the backup job behind starter Ahmad Bradshaw right away.  He provides the team with depth and more insurance incase Bradshaw is unable to make it through the season and his feet begin to act up again.  The potential is there for Wilson to be very successful with the Giants as the main backup option and primary kick returner. 

There are some things that Wilson will have to work on, as like any rookie coming into the NFL out of college.  As Tom Coughlin said, “Needs some work in some of the other areas – pass protection and that kind of thing, as do a lot of these young guys.  And also the question comes up about ball security and we’ll remind him of that right away.” Wilson’s had problems with sometimes holding onto the ball, fumbling seven times last year, losing the ball four of the times.  Luckily for him, Coughlin has been pretty good at fixing that problem with running backs in the past.

“He’s the kind of guy that we felt would add very much to our present situation in terms of big play potential,” Coughlin said.  “He’s one of the guys that has the speed and maneuverability to make the big play and that’s what was very important to us at this time.”

“We’re looking at the fact that Brandon [Jacobs] is no longer here and we do have to try to balance that out,” Coughlin would later add.  “We believe that you do have to have multiple runners or at least two that can effectively take the field at any time, and this young man we thought was one of those that can be a big play threat.”

Jerry Reese would admit that there were many options available for the Giants when they were on the clock that they were not expecting to be there.  But he was quick to say that Wilson was their guy.  They had him as the second rated running back behind Trent Richardson and when their pick came around Wilson’s name was atop the board.  Reese seemed to be very happy with the pick while being interviewed afterwards.  “

“Terrific football player,” Reese said.  “This guy loves to play football.  He is fast, he is productive, he can do anything you want him to do.  He can catch the ball and return kicks.  He is a good piece to put in our running back stable.” 

There are not many people who can rival the athleticism of Wilson, who is able to do more than a dozen back flips.  The Giants actually have one of the few people who can in Jason Pierre-Paul who is a renowned acrobat in his own right.  The Giants have fared pretty well so far with Pierre-Paul and can only hope Wilson can bring the same type of impact. 

Here are the videos of Wilson and Pierre-Paul showing off their athleticism.  

New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats Post Game Recap April 26

Final Score: New York Knicks 104 Charlotte Bobcats 84

The Knicks won their final game of the regular season, defeating a lifeless Bobcats team 104-84 ending the season on a three game winning streak.  The Bobcats ended the season on their own streak, losing the last 23 games in a row, finishing with the worst winning percentage for a season in NBA history.  While the Knicks won tonight, the 76ers lost meaning the Knicks lock up the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and a meeting with the Miami Heat in the first round.  The 76ers will get the Bulls.

-Amar’e Flashback

Much like how Carmelo Anthony dominated without Amar’e Stoudemire on the floor was how it was for Stoudemire tonight with Anthony sitting out resting up for the playoffs.  Stoudemire finished with 21 points, scoring in an array of ways.  Stoudemire tonight was effective with his midrange jumper, rolling off screens and on drives to the basket.  It looked like the Stoudemire of old, especially in the 3rd quarter when he finished a monstrous dunk over Tyrus Thomas for an and-one.

The Knicks should start Stoudemire against the Heat when the playoffs started, but should not hesitate to get him burn with the second unit.  If the Knicks can split up Stoudemire and Anthony for parts of the game and let each dominate for a stretch of time, it will help them in the long run.  If both are having a good game, it will be difficult to decide which one to send help at.

Tonight’s game was against statistically the worst team in the history of the NBA, but there were still encouraging signs to take out of it for the Knicks.

-J.R. Smith Steps Up

J.R. Smith has turned a corner since Mike Woodson took over as head coach, and he has to be a big reason for that.  The relationship between Smith and Woodson seems very similar to a father-son relationship.  Woodson comes down harder on Smith compared to some of the other players because he realizes Smith is a big piece to this team being competitive and they need him.

Woodson is able to communicate to Smith without turning him off and making him upset.  Smith has all the talent in the world, but can sometimes get lost in his own games causing problems for the team.  We have seen less of that since Woodson took over and I think it is because Woodson has gotten through to Smith that team basketball and continuity will be what leads them to where they want to be, not one-on-one show off basketball. 

The pushing Woodson gives to Smith only motivates him more to show the coach he is capable of doing what is asked of him.  For example, Smith now brings it consistently on the defensive end.  Tonight that pushing paid off as Smith led the Knicks with 22 points in a game which he gave a strong performance when it looked like not many people were interested in taking part.

Next up for the Knicks is the playoff series against the Miami Heat.  This is the beginning of the re-start to the rivalry from the 90’s when the Knicks and Heat would battle it out it seemed every year in the post season.  Saturday afternoon at 3:30 P.M. ET in Miami is when Game 1 of the series will take place.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

New York Giants Draft Preview: Secondary

This is the 9th and final installment of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The last position is the secondary.

Currently, the Giants have Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Prince Amukamara, Antwaun Molden, Bruce Johnson, Brian Witherspoon, Michael Coe, Justin Tryon and Brandon Bing at corner back on the depth chart.  At safety, the Giants currently have Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, Tyler Sash, Stevie Brown, Chris Horton and Chad Jones on the depth chart.  Currently un-signed from last season for the Giants is Deon Grant, Will Blackmon and Derrick Martin.

Most moves made by the Giants so far this off-season has come in the secondary, albeit they were minor ones.  Thomas was re-signed after suffering an ACL injury during the preseason last year.  The Giants are hoping he can return to his old form as Thomas was really starting to come into his own along side Corey Webster.  Amukamara is looking to improve off what was a disappoint rookie season that was derailed by injury from the start.  Amukamara broke a bone in his foot in his second practice last off-season, and is looking to bounce back.  Recently, Amukamara received an injection to help the foot heal, but should be ready by the time training camp roles around.  Having him healthy would be a huge benefit as the Giants could use some help at cornerback after Aaron Ross left this off-season to join the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Molden, Brown and Horton were added mostly for depth.  All three have potential to help the team on special teams since cracking the rotation will be tough.  Johnson, Coe and Tryon were all re-signed from last season.  The secondary, even though from the looks is deep, has its question marks.  Thomas, Johnson, Coe, Witherspoon and Tryon all suffered season ending injuries, so no one knows for sure how effective they will be once training camps open up. 

Rolle and Phillips return for the Giants this season, giving the Giants one of the best safety combinations in the NFL.  Popular veteran Deon Grant though still remains unsigned and it remains to be seen what the Giants do with him.  His veteran leadership is a quality that would not hurt the Giants adding.  There is a possibility the Giants bring him into the fold later in the off-season, but they do like what they have in last years 6th round pick Tyler Sash.  Adding linebacker Keith Rivers may make Grant expendable also because he should not need to use three safeties on the field together as much. 

Chad Jones suffered injuries in a horrific car accident after being selected by the Giants in 2010.  The accident almost cost Jones his life and left leg, but he is attempting to return this off-season.  If Jones is able to return and give the Giants anything, it would be considered a huge bonus.  Jones is an inspiration to everyone in the organization attempting a comeback from such a life changing experience. 

The last time the Giants went secondary in the draft was last year, when they selected Amukamara in the first round out of Nebraska and Sash in the sixth round out of Iowa.  The Giants have been taking a look at a number defensive backs and it makes sense. 

The front office will have a lot of decisions to make after this season, having only six defensive backs under contract past this year (Webster, Amukamara, Thomas, Rolle, Sash and Jones).  The Giants would like to retain Phillips as his contract is up this season, but you never know.  Reese always has an eye on the future, which is what the draft is for so seeing the Giants take some secondary players would be a surprise to no one.  The fact they have so many players returning from injuries is also a concern and reason for the Giants to look secondary in this year’s draft.
There are a number of options for the Giants in the draft this year.  If Notre Dame Safety Harrison Smith is there at 32, the Giants will have to take a long hard look at him.  Another player to keep an eye on is Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama.  He has told the Giants they will need to trade up to get him, but there are a few people that think he may be in for a fall down the draft board.  Janoris Jenkins formerly of Florida University, out of Northern Alabama comes with a lot of baggage but is highly talented. has said that the Giants have had Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden for two visits, so keep an eye out for him on draft day.
With so many question marks surrounding the secondary this season and into the future, it would seem like drafting a cornerback or safety would be a logical move.  I would place the necessity for a player in the secondary to be drafted at a 5 for the Giants.

So there it is the last installment of the NFL Draft preview for the New York Football Giants.  Leave comments to let us know what you thought of the coverage and how you think we did.  Hope you all enjoy watching the draft this weekend. 

New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats Pre-Game News and Notes April 26

Thursday April 26, 2012 8:00 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Charlotte Bobcats

The Knicks end the regular season tonight against a Bobcats team riding a 22 game losing streak.  This is an important game still for the Knicks, as their playoff seed is still not set.  If the Knicks and 76ers share the same result tonight, the Knicks will get the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and a first round match up against the Miami Heat.  If the Knicks win and 76ers lose they also get the 7th seed.  The only way the Knicks can fall behind the 76ers tonight is a lose in combination with a 76er win.  So the question now comes, do the Knicks lose on purpose, trying to avoid Miami in the first round?  As a fan I do not want to watch my favorite team be the ones who end the Bobcats 22 game losing streak.  I may be in the minority tonight, but I want to see the Knicks come out firing trying to end the regular season on a high note and not lose to the Bobcats even if it means a match up with the Heat in the first. 

-Lots of Lineup Changes

The Knicks will start a very different looking lineup tonight, giving multiple players the night off.  Tonight’s starting lineup for the Knicks will be Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson and Amar’e Stoudemire.  Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Toney Douglas are all sitting tonight.  Douglas is the only one who is actually not healthy enough to play, as he is sitting out because he is sick.  This will be an interesting game for the bench, as they will get extended playing time.  It is an opportunity for many of them to showcase what they have going into the playoffs trying to earn playing time from Mike Woodson.  Woodson has said he will use tonight to see who deserves minutes going forward into the playoffs.

-Show Up Tonight

The playoffs are right around the corner, so why not start with the intensity tonight?  It should not be hard to get the bench players to play hard tonight.  They are all fighting for a spot in the rotation for the playoffs and have nothing to lose.  There should be no drop off in intensity and work ethic with this group.  I actually believe the Knicks have a better chance of beating the Bobcats with this group because they will match the energy the Bobcats will bring trying to end their losing streak.

The Knicks want to ride a wave of momentum into the playoffs, especially because it will be a tough opponent in either the Bulls or Heat.  Losing to the Bobcats would destroy any good feelings the Knicks are building up, so tonight is a game they should come out in and try dominating from the start.

-Going for Recognition

Steve Novak has come out of oblivion this year and has turned in a great season for the Knicks.  Tonight he has a chance to secure the league lead in 3 point shooting if he knocks down a couple of jumpers.  The Knicks should do everything they can to get Novak that title.  He deserves any recognition he can get because of how well he has played this season, playing most of it out of nowhere.  He is better known for his championship belt maneuver than actually playing.  

New York Giants Draft Preview: Linebackers

This is the 8th installment in the series of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The next position up is linebacker.

The Giants currently have Michael Boley, Keith Rivers, Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Jacquian Williams, Greg Jones, Mark Herzlich, Clint Sintim, Spencer Paysinger and Adrian Tracy on the depth chart at linebacker.  The only linebacker that remains unsigned for the Giants is Jonathan Goff.

Last season the Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell was most comfortable going with two linebackers on the field, opting to using a third safety instead.  The addition of Keith Rivers should have an effect on that philosophy, enabling the Giants to go to a more traditional three linebacker set.  Rivers gives the Giants a third true linebacker to go along with Boley and Kiwanuka.  Rivers had a rough go of it in Cincinnati, but was a top 10 pick when he came out of USC in 2008.  The Giants like his speed and the sideline to sideline ability Rivers has and are hoping that a change of scenery in combination to a fresh start can help him reach his potential.  The acquisition of Rivers gives the Giants new found flexibility at the linebacker position giving them plenty of options.

Kiwanuka could be seeing more action at his more natural defensive end position this season.  The loss of Dave Tollefson and the addition of Rivers, the defensive line is in need of Kiwanuka more than the linebacking corps. 

Jacquian Williams was a nice surprise last season for the Giants.  A product coming out of USF like Pierre-Paul the season prior, showed elite athleticism.  His speed and ability to play coverage really helps the Giants, and should only get better with a full season behind him and his first full training camp ahead of him.

GM Jerry Reese is also very high on the potential middle linebackers Jones and Herzlich posses.  They were pressed into action last season because of injuries and responded much better than you would expect from a 6th round rookie and an undrafted free agent.  Look for them to have their biggest impact on special teams throughout the season. 

Another player to keep an eye on is Clint Sintim.  He will be returning from his second consecutive season ended prematurely because of an ACL tear.  Sintim was penciled in as one of the starting outside linebackers last season and should come out aggressive wanting to get his spot back. 

Paysinger and Tracy are two more young players the Giants like and will add competition in training camp.  Paysinger had his biggest impact on the team last year as a valuable member of the coverage teams.
The last time the Giants drafted a linebacker was last year, when they took Williams out of USF and Jones out of Michigan State, both in the 6th round.  This time around, the Giants are well stocked at linebacker, but that does not mean they still are not looking.  Draft experts have the Giants linked to a number of linebackers.  One is Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama, who if falls in the draft is expected to be snapped up for the Giants.  Another name to pay attention to is Lavonte David of Nebraska.  Draft expert Todd McShay is very high on him and very well could be available to the Giants at 32 or in the second round.  I would place the necessity of the Giants adding a linebacker at a 3 on a scale of 1-10.

New York Jets Draft Preview: Wide Receiver

The Jets have lacked a real down field threat since parting ways with Braylon Edwards, and even then their down field attack was mediocre. Plaxico Burress was not the receiver the Jets were hoping they were getting. He did have a good season in the red zone but how many catches did he make of twenty yards or more? Santonio Holmes will need help if the Jets are to have a solid air attack.

 It is possible that the Jets could use their first round pick to get a receiver that is a big target for Sanchez to throw to deep. With the 16th pick in the draft the Jets will have their choice of receivers, except for Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon (projected 6th overall).
Michael Floyd ( 6-3 224 lbs.) out of Notre Dame, if available, is a great down field receiver with very strong hands. Floyd had some problems with Notre Dame in his first few year that led to a leave of absence from the team, but it looks like Floyd has turned his attitude around. He is a good deep route runner and he can also go up and get the ball with the best of them. Floyd had 100 catches for 1,147 yards, and 9 touchdowns for the Irish last year.

Kendall Wright (5-10 190 lbs.) is a pure athlete. Wright, who comes from Baylor University, is a smaller receiver than Floyd, but he is a speedy receiver who can easily get behind the secondary, and can run under any ball thrown. Wright could be a Victor Cruz like receiver, he can run the inside routes, but he can be a deep threat at any point, and out of any set. Wright finished last season with 108 catches for 1,663 yards, and 14 touchdowns. That is impressive.

If the Jets are looking for a receiver a little later than the first or second round there are other good receivers out there. Nick Toon (6-2 215 lbs.) out of Wisconsin would be a good pick for the Jets, or Ryan Broyles (5-10 192 lbs.). I know Broyles tore his ACL during last season, but he had 83 catches for over 1,000 yds and 10 touchdowns before he went down. He will go in the third or fourth round for sure. If the Jets don't have a receiver after the second round and Broyles is available, they should take him with no hesitation.

I would like to see the Jets add some depth to their receiver core. Santonio Holmes, and tight end Dustin Keller will not be able to carry the load for the entire season, and Plaxico Burress is gone. Adding another target for Sanchez, and I keep saying Sanchez because he will be the starting QB in 2012, the Jets will be a real threat through the air, and that can open up the running game.

New York Giants Draft Preview: Defensive Line

This is the 7th installment in the series of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The next position up is the defensive line.

Currently on the depth chart for the Giants at defensive end are Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Trattou and Craig Marshall.  At defensive tackle the Giants have Linval Joseph, Marvin Austin, Chris Canty, Dwayne Hendricks and Martin Parker.  The Giants also have combo man Mathias Kiwanuka who switches between the d-line and linebacker positions.

Defensive line is the strength of the Giants, and again one of its top players has a lot of uncertainty around him.  Umenyiora is still looking for the same contract extension he wanted last season, and is entering the last year of his deal.  Another problem is that he wants to be a starter, but the defensive end spots are currently filled by Tuck and Pierre-Paul.  The Giants have to weigh all their options regarding Umenyiora, deciding either to make him play out his contract or if it is easier to trade him this time around. 

Tuck was a warrior last season, and is hoping to get through this season in much better health, as he was injured all the way from preseason through the Super Bowl.  Pierre-Paul will look to build on his break out campaign in which he registered a career high 16.5 sacks.  Joseph and Canty were very disruptive in the middle, combining for 96 tackles.  Joseph was seeing playing time for the first time in his career last year, meaning he should only get better this year with a full season under his belt and a full training camp to go through this season.  With the addition of linebacker Keith Rivers from the Cincinnati Bengals and Dave Tollefson leaving in free agency, look for Kiwanuka to potentially see more action on the defensive line this season. 

Austin is the wildcard of the group.  He missed all of his rookie season because of a torn pectoral muscle.  He has missed the last two seasons of football, after having to sit out his last year at the University of North Carolina after being ruled ineligible.  With Rocky Bernard currently remaining un-signed, there is a hole left in the rotation that Austin could easily fill backing up Canty and Joseph. 

The last time the Giants drafted a defensive lineman was last season with Marvin Austin.  It is normal for the Giants to draft defensive lineman early because they draft based on talent, not need.  The Giants have actually taken a defensive lineman in either round one or two in the last two drafts and it would surprise no one if they did it again this year.

If one of the top defensive ends such as Chandler Jones of Syracuse or Illinois’ Whitney Mercilus were to drop to the Giants at 32 it would be hard to pass them up.  Disruptive defensive tackle Jerel Worthy of Michigan State could also be available at 32.  Even though Worthy was inconsistent at times, there is no denying that he as ability.
It is not exactly a necessity for the Giants to add defensive lineman, but they do have to look at the future.  There is no knowing for sure what will happen with Umenyiora, and it will be extremely tough for the Giants to keep both Kiwanuka and Tuck when their respective contracts expire after this season and next season.  Having depth is never a bad thing, so I will give the necessity rating a 5 on a scale of 1-10.  

New York Giants Draft Preview: Special Teams

This is the 6th installment in the series of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The next position up is special teams. 

The Giants depth chart currently includes Kicker Lawrence Tynes, Punter Steve Weatherford, Long Snapper Zak DeOssie, Punt Returner Domenik Hixon, and Kick Returners Jerrel Jernigan, Da’Rel Scott and D.J. Ware.  Will Blackmon is the only current special teamer still on the free agent wire for the Giants.

Last season the special teams saw a vast improvement throughout all aspects in 2011 compared to 2010.  One area that saw a glaring improvement was in the punting game.  After beating out Matt Dodge in training camp, Weatherford provided clutch and outstanding punting.  Tynes was efficient, going 19-24 on his Field Goal attempts and kicking 34 touchbacks.

The coverage teams were also vastly improved.  Neither the punt return or kick off coverage allowed a return touchdown on the season.  A reason for this was the infusion of young talent through the draft in Greg Jones, Jacquian Williams and Tyler Sash and the signing of undrafted free agent Mark Herzlich. 

At times superstars Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck were seen on the special team units attempting to block field goals and punts.  Giants’ fans will remember JPP blocked field goal against the Dallas Cowboys in week 15 that very well could have saved the Giants season.  Let’s not also forget to mention Corner Back Justin Tryon, who contributed in his short amount of time before suffering a season ending injury.  I distinctly remember the play he made on a punt against the Miami Dolphins and Reggie Bush.  It was the play Tryon sadly got hurt on, but he was still able to make the play and stop the explosive Bush. 

The return game was the only thing that was not so stellar for the Giants. They averaged only 6.1 yards per punt return and 23.3 yards per kick return.  Hixon is a capable return man and his return is nothing but positive for the team.  But he is a huge injury concern, and the other main kick and punt return men all either left the team in free agency or remain unsigned.  Hixon, Jernigan and Scott are all capable of being good return men because of the tools they posses.  Ware also has experience as a kick returner.

The last time the Giants selected a special teamer in the draft was 2010 with Matt Dodge and we all know how that ended up.  Don’t expect the Giants to take any special teamers outside of possibly an electric return man.  The Giants are more than set at Kicker, Punter and Long Snapper.  Some possibilities are Arkansas’ Joe Adams who led the FBS in yard per punt return at an average of 16.9 or Keshawn Martin from Michigan State who was mentioned earlier in the WR post.  Another return man to keep an eye on is Florida’s Chris Rainey, who is dangerous in space and is capable of being a good return man in the NFL. I would put the need for a special teamer at a 4 for the Giants, only because it would be beneficial to add a spark plug in the return game.  Other than a returner, the need for special teamers would be a 1 on a scale on 1-10.  

New York Giants Draft Preview: Offensive Line

This is the 5th installment in the series of posts breaking down the Giants position by position for the upcoming NFL Draft.  The next position up is Offensive Line.

The Giants depth chart on the offensive line includes Guards Chris Snee, Chris White and Mitch Petrus, Tackles Will Beatty, James Brewer, Selvish Capers and Joel Reinders, Centers David Baas and Jim Cordle, and combo linemen David Diehl, Sean Locklear and Kevin Boothe.  The Giants also have free agents Kareem McKenzie, Stacy Andrews and Tony Ugoh on the market.

Last season the Giants underwent a huge overhaul across the offensive line.  They started the season with three positions not returning starters from the previous season.  Throughout the season the line was raved by injuries, causing more changes to be made.

This season will be no different, as longtime starter Kareem McKenzie was released and not expected to be retained.  That means Eli Manning will have a new right tackle at the very least. 

Brewer has been mentioned by Reese as a potential player in all of this.  He was selected last season in the fourth round and looked at as a project, but is expected to compete for the right tackle position throughout camp.  Beatty has been cleared to play and is expected to assume his role as the starting Left Tackle. 

Boothe was a valuable contributor all over the line last season.  Boothe ended up getting playing time at both Guard and Center last season and has a legitimate chance of being named the Left Guard this season.  Petrus filled in admirably in three games started last year at Left Guard.  Baas was the marquee free agent acquisition for the Giants last off-season, but did not exactly live up to expectations.  He had an up and down season fighting nagging injuries, but ended it with a Super Bowl victory.

Sean Locklear is the wild card here.  He was brought in with the potential to be an extra blocker for the team, but he has his sights set higher than that.  Locklear is looking to become the starting Right Tackle for the team.  The former Redskin and Seahawk is a grizzled veteran, playing in 105 regular season games and starting 82 of them.  Locklear was a main cog in the Seattle Seahawks run to the Super Bowl in 2005. 

The last offensive lineman the Giants drafted was James Brewer last season in the fourth round out of Indiana University.  Brewer was drafted as a project last season, and the Giants could potentially go in the same direction this year.  The only way the Giants take an offensive lineman with their first pick this year is if that player is the highest rated player remaining on the board.  Mike Adams of Ohio State University could potentially be there when the Giants draft at 32 in the first round.  Another option a little later in the draft is California University’s Mitchell Schwartz.

On a scale of 1-10, I would rate the necessity of adding an offensive lineman as a 5 for the Giants.  They have a lot of flexibility currently on the roster, but it never hurts adding more depth.