Camp dogfights

They are the most intriguing part of training camp – the positions on the Giants roster that are up for grabs. The candidates fight tooth and nail to hold onto their spot for another season, assume the role left by a former teammate, or unseat an incumbent. Below TGI has outlined the positions, and the players who will try to outwork, outsmart, and ultimately outperform their competition.

Quarterback

The incumbent: Jesse Palmer

The veteran: Kurt Warner

The upstart/franchise: Eli Manning

Perhaps by now you've heard that the Giants have a couple of pretty good QBs on the roster. Some believe that former two-time MVP Kurt Warner should be the man to take the season's first snap and who could argue? His accuracy during camp has been the stuff of legend. Others believe it's high time to toss the keys to Manning, whose arm strength and tight spirals make it clear that he's something special. Jesse Palmer is the incumbent in name only, taking that role once Kerry Collins, who has since landed in Oakland, was jettisoned. While Palmer's known more for his role as "The Bachelor," he has the inside track over Ryan Van Dyke to be New York's third QB.

As for who's going to start, don't you wish you knew?!? Don't feel bad…so do we.

Edge: Warner

Free safety

The incumbent: Omar Stoutmire

The veteran: Brent Alexander

The upstart: Gibril Wilson

One of camp's hottest battles this side of the QB competition takes place in the secondary. Stoutmire has been a very dependable tackler, posting 109 hits last season. However, Coughlin and Tim Lewis want picks, picks and more picks. With 21 career INTs and experience in Lewis's systems in Pittsburgh, Alexander might be the man to start at free safety.

However, Coughlin has admittedly been impressed with Stoutmire.

"I don't think there's any edge there now at all," the coach said of the free safety battle. "I've been very impressed with Omar's shock ability. He does have a lot of shock to him."

Rookie Gibril Wilson doesn't really fit into the equation at this point.

Thus far in camp both Alexander and Stoutmire have looked pretty good. Let the preseason games decide.

Edge: Alexander

Right defensive end

The veteran: Keith Washington

The challenger: Osi Umenyiora

The upstart: Isaac Hilton

The battle for the starting RDE spot is expected to get hot and heated as camp unfolds. In one corner, fighting out of the run defense corner is Washington, a dependable vet to which the Giants will certainly be comfortable awarding the job. In the other corner, fighting out of the pass rush specialist corner is Umenyiora, who will eventually claim the starting spot, if not by the start of the season.

The Giants would love to see better pass pressure from Washington and likewise be thrilled if Umenyiora can master the run game sooner rather than later. It should be an interesting tussle to watch.

Hilton, one of the club's seventh-round picks, will hope to nab some playing time himself.

Edge: Washington

Right tackle

The incumbent: Ian Allen

The veteran: Ed Ellis

The upstart: David Diehl

While it appears the Giants plan to eventually move Diehl into the starting right tackle slot and demote Allen, it hasn't happened yet. In all fairness, it's tough to judge the linemen until the preseason games begin. While the Giants, and Diehl as well, would likely be content with the second-year player remaining at right guard, it seems that New York's brass thinks that his best spot is at tackle. At the same time, that would allow rookie Chris Snee to slide into the starting lineup at RG.

"We need to find a right tackle," OL coach Pat Flaherty said. "Ian Allen needs to show us with his pads and his play that he can hold down that position. David Diehl we feel pretty good about as a football player. That's the one position, probably more than any other that we need to find out about. And we will."

As far as Ellis, he seems a lock to make the roster and potentially become the top backup at RT. However, as of this writing, Ian Allen, who has overcome some crazy odds to even get this far in his career, was still New York's starting right tackle.

Edge: Diehl

Kicker

The veteran: Bill Gramatica

The challenger: Todd France

Now more than a week into camp, it's become more and more apparent that Gramatica has a real fight on his hands. When Matt Bryant was let go, many figured the job was safely his. That's not the case, as he continues to miss make-able field goals, while France continues to make them. At the same time, France is more than holding his own in the kickoff department. That could be the key since there's clearly only room for one kicker on Coughlin's roster.

"Obviously you don't want to devote a roster position to just a kickoff guy and we don't intend to do that," special teams coordinator Mike Sweatman said.

The true test will come in the upcoming preseason tilts. But so far, it certainly hasn't been the routine gearing up for the season camp that Gramatica, and many others, had figured.

Edge: Gramatica

Third receiver

The incumbent: Tim Carter

The veteran: James McKnight

The upstart: Jamaar Taylor

There's no doubt that Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer will remain New York's starting tandem at receiver. However, there appears to be quite a battle for the next spot, the first WR in off the bench. If he remains healthy, which is always a very big if, Carter has the inside track. He's looked very good during camp's early going. But he did miss the afternoon practice with the Jets due to a mild hamstring injury. That might just open the door for McKnight, who dropped his share of balls early in camp, but has the speed and experience that Coughlin is looking for from a third guy. While JaJuan Dawson and Ataveus Cash have shown themselves well, rookie Jamaar Taylor could be the diamond in the rough that grabs the third spot before too long.

Edge: Carter

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