What to Watch For: Giants OTAs

The Giants Beat takes a look at the story lines, position battles and players to keep an eye on when OTAs start this Monday.

The Giants will begin OTAs next week in preparation for mandatory mini-camp on June 14-16. Positivity and anticipation has surrounded offseason workouts so far as this team has the potential to do damage in 2016. With minicamp right around the corner, here is what fans should watch for heading into the new season.

Storylines

Eli Manning MVP?: Entering his 12th year in the NFL, one would think Manning would start heading down the slope to retirement. Yet, with a miraculous season of over 4,000 passing yards and 35 touchdowns, it doesn’t seem this Manning is ready to follow his brother into the sunset. Experts have said that with the addition of Sterling Shepard and the return of Victor Cruz, Manning could have an even better season than his last, and could very well be in the running for the league MVP. Will Manning top his record breaking 2015 season this year?

The Giants of Old: For years, the Giants were known for their rock solid defense. However, these past few years have shown otherwise. With all the free agent acquisitions and draft picks in the secondary, Big Blue should be able to climb out of the rut they have been in for a while now. It is clearly a massive improvement from last year, but only the regular season can tell if this new defense is the real deal.

The McAdoo Era Begins: When New York Yankees Didi Gregorious took over for Derek Jeter at shortstop last year, all eyes were on him to see how he would succeed a baseball legend. The same situation presents itself to McAdoo who takes over now for Tom Coughlin. Coughlin gave Giants fans two Super Bowl rings, and with so many expectations, McAdoo will have to produce this season to win fans over. Gregorious has settled in, but it took him 162 games to do so. McAdoo won’t have as much time.

Position Battles

Secondary: Big names are stacked on the secondary depth chart, and minicamp will be just the start to the competition for roles when September comes around. The safety slot next to Landon Collins is open for the taking with draft pick Darien Thompson, Bennett Jackson, Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson all battling for the position. Also, at corner, Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will see which spot they will be playing in when the season starts. Depth is always good to have especially in the injury-laden Giants secondary of last season. It will be fun to see who comes out victorious when the season begins.

Wide Receiver: The addition of Sterling Shepard and the return of Victor Cruz brings competition among the receiving core last season. Players like Dwayne Harris and Myles White will have to fight hard for a starting role.

Running Back: The run game for the Giants didn’t help at all in 2015. With four men in the backfield last year, the additions of a fifth in draft pick Paul Perkins brings even more competition. Perkins is said to be an all-around back being able to hit holes while also catching on screens and quick routes. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen seem to be locks, but the battle between Perkins, Andre Williams and Orleans Darkwa will be interesting to watch.

Players to Keep an Eye On

Victor Cruz: The question of can Victor Cruz stay healthy for an entire season is one that all fans want answered. Minicamp will show if he is still NFL ready and hasn’t lost a step

Olivier Vernon: Vernon hit the jackpot with his lengthy and expensive new contract. He is set to make an immediate impact, and he will surely be determined to show everyone he is worth the money.

Eli Apple v. Sterling Shepard: Video already came out of these two going at it in offseason workouts and fans will no doubt see this matchup between the top two draft picks at minicamp as well. Apple is set to be a slot corner which he is new for him while Shepard is to stand opposite Odell Beckham Jr. when the season kicks off. It will be fun to see how these draft picks get acclimated to NFL life.

Will Tye: Tye has the chance to be the starting tight end for the G-Men this season. Keep an eye on him as he will look to impress coaches over teammates Larry Donnell and draft pick Jerell Adams. 

Darien Thompson: With the safety slot up for grabs, Thompson will hope to make a splash at minicamp to be in question for that starting role. He will have tough competition especially in Bennett Jackson who was set to start next to Collins last year before he got hurt in the final preseason game of 2015. He will be back with a vengeance, and Thompson must have the same fire if he wants the role. 


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