There are several starting positions up for grasp heading into New York Giants training camp.
We’re less than two weeks away from the start of New York Giants training camp. Most of the starting positions are already decided, but there are many positions up in the air.
Here’s a look at five close position battles to watch for during Giants training camp.
1. Third Wide Receiver
With Odell Beckham Jr not participating on 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills during minicamp, Cody Latimer took reps with the first-team offense on the opposite side of Sterling Shepard. Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond played with the second-team offense while Roger Lewis and Travis Rudolph took reps with the third team.
Due to what we saw in minicamp, Latimer seems to have a leg up on the other receivers to be third on the depth chart. But he will be pushed hard by the other receivers, especially Lewis, who was thrust into a bigger role last season due to injuries at the receiver position. Lewis finished 36 receptions for 416 yards and two touchdowns last season.
The receiving core is arguably the deepest and most talented unit on the Giants. So the battle to be third on the depth chart will be a highly competitive battle.
2. Starting Center: Jon Halapio vs. Brett Jones
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 312-pound Jones started 13 games at center for the Giants last season in place of Weston Richburg who battled through injuries last season. With Richburg now a San Francisco 49er, it seemed Jones was poised to be the starting center.
But throughout minicamp, it was the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Jon Halapio who started at center with the first-team offense. Although Halapio has impressed coaches, when asked if the starting center position was his to lose, head coach Pat Shurmur responded by saying, “No, there is a competition right now.”
The Giants are banking that their improved offensive line which includes Nate Solder, Patrick Omameh and rookie Will Hernandez, can make the offense explosive and dynamic. But they’re going to need the man that snaps the ball to Eli Manning to be the rock of the unit, which makes the battle to be the starting center one of the most important position battles.
3. Outside Linebacker: Kareem Martin vs. Lorenzo Carter
The Giants believed they found four starters from their 2018 draft class in Saquon Barkley, Hernandez, B.J. Hill and Lorenzo Carter.
It was presumed that Carter would be on the top of the depth chart at one of the outside linebacker positions. But throughout minicamp, it was Kareem Martin starting at left outside linebacker with Olivier Vernon playing right outside linebacker with the first-team defense.
It makes sense for Martin to be on the field as the defense gets accustomed to defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s 3-4 defense. After all, Martin is very familiar with the defense having played in it when Bettcher was the defensive coordinator for Arizona Cardinals from 2015-17. So, in essence, Martin is in some ways the quarterback of the defense.
It will be interesting to see if young Carter can unseat the veteran Martin for the starting role.
4. Running Back Depth Behind Saquon Barkley
Simply put, Saquon Barkley can do it all. He’s strong and fast, has exceptional hands, is solid in pass protection, and runs precise routes for a running back.
But he can’t be on the field for every snap and the Giants will need a solid reserve as the Giants will use their running backs often and in various ways.
Wayne Gallman is favored to be the backup to Barkley as he had an impressive 4.3 yards per carry last season behind a terrible offensive line. With the experience free agent signing Jonathan Stewart brings, you’d figure he’d be in prime position to be third on the depth chart and used for short yardage and goal line opportunities. But he is being pushed by Jalen Simmons who took several reps with the second team offense in minicamp.
It will be interesting to see where Gallman, Stewart and Simmons end up on the depth chart.
5. Free Safety: Darian Thompson vs. Andrew Adams
Free safety is the only position in the Giants secondary that isn’t solidified. We know Landon Collins will start at strong safety, and Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple will represent the two corners.
Last season, Darian Thompson started 16 games and finished third on the team in tackles with 75 but had just one interception. In 2016 a foot injury ended Thompson’s season after two games and Andrew Adams filled in and finished the year with 46 tackles and one interception.
Both players have shown they’re capable of being the starter. Now the question is, “Who will perform better in training camp and the preseason towards winning that starting job?”