Some Position Battles to Watch at New York Giants Training Camp 2
Jul 30, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants tight end Matt LaCosse (81) catches the ball at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will open their training camp at the end of July and surprisingly most of their starting lineup is already in place. 

The New York Giants will hold their first training camp practice session in just a little less than three weeks, and after another active offseason chock of player personnel moves, will have fewer position battles than most teams.

The club is suddenly flush in many areas and deeper in many units where they recently had been shallow. GM Jerry Reese made moves to create competition along both the offensive line and at tight end while players returning from injuries in other units are sure to reassert themselves into the team’s plans.

The offensive line is set at center and on the left side. Weston Richburg returns at center. He is an ascending player who was voted the best pass-blocker at his position by Pro Football Focus. He will be joined by former first-round picks Justin Pugh at LG and Ereck Flowers at LT. Pugh is entering the final year on his rookie deal and Flowers, after an inconsistent sophomore season, has worked diligently this offseason to re-sculpt his body and gain more quickness.

Its the right side that the Giants will spend most of the summer trying to staff up. They re-signed the reliable veteran, John Jerry, to a two-year deal and he appears the early favorite to continue as the right guard. Bobby Hart, another third year player the team hopes will turn the corner on his career, finished last year at RT. He stayed in New Jersey along with Flowers this winter to focus on conditioning and the team plans to pit him against veteran free agent D.J. Fluker and rookie Adam Bisnowaty in camp for the RT spot. Fluker will also challenge Jerry at guard.

Jun 13, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (76) during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The tight end room is full these days, too. First round pick Evan Engram and free agent pickup Rhett Ellison join Will Tye, Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse in what has become perhaps the most intriguing unit in the building these days. Engram can line up as a traditional TE, but he’s more effective in the slot or even split out as a wide receiver. Ellison is strictly a blocker and my be used as fullback as well as an in-line TE.

Jun 13, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (88) runs after catching the ball during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

It’s unlikely the Giants will keep all of these players. Adams has the size and tools to become a prototype NFL tight end, and Reese hates to give up on his draft picks, so he’s likely to stay. That leaves Tye and LaCosse and from what we’ve seen at OTAs and minicamp, LaCosse has been the better player. In fact, he may end up being the best all-around player they have at the position.

Other positions to keep an eye on are free safety, linebacker and running back. The Giants have an idea what they want to happen at all three spots and are hoping they pan out that way this summer. They would love nothing more than for Darian Thompson to reclaim the free safety job next to All-Pro Landon Collins. Thompson won the job out of camp as a rookie last year but played only one game after breaking a bone in his foot. UDFA Andrew Adams stepped in and played fairly well, but Thompson is the Giants’ guy. If he’s healthy, he should be able to take his job back.

The Giants are hopeful that second-year LB B.J Goodson can be their man in the middle. He has shown a propensity to be around the ball and is getting comfortable wearing the headset. Goodson won’t really have a lot of competition for the job. The team re-signed Keenan Robinson, but he is expected to be a package-type backer who is used primarily on passing downs. Devon Kennard returns at the SAM backer and Jonathan Casillas is expected to be the WILL. He could be challenged by several others, including J.T. Thomas, who missed the majority of the 2016 season with a torn ACL.

The featured running back job is Paul Perkins’ to lose, but that is only of you believe the Giants plan on using a featured back. Perkins is in position to be the guy but the Giants have several backs they plan on using. Shane Vereen will get his share of snaps as the receiving and third down back. Orleans Darkwa was re-signed and the team has a son spot for him. He is a tough, creative runner that the coaches love. Add in fourth-round draft pick Wayne Gallman, veteran free agent Shaun Draughn and UDFA Khalid Abdullah and the group appears to be more formidable than it’s been in years.

John Fennelly has been covering the New York sports scene on the Internet since 1997. He has advised and been published on dozens of prominent websites and in major periodicals and can been heard on sports talk radio stations all over the dial. Before embarking on his career as an accredited journalist, John held several management positions in a successful 25-year career in the financial industry. He holds a degree in New Media/Journalism from Queens College.