Double Coverage

What do the Giants need to get out of training camp? Paul Schwartz: Here's the quickie response to such a question: The Giants need to get out of camp in one piece. Look, there's no doubt Tom Coughlin will have his team prepared for the season, the nuances of the playbook will be installed and the offenses and defenses will be ready to roll. But all of this can come crashing down if nasty injuries infiltrate the team.

Firstly, the Giants need to receive encouraging reports on their many walking wounded of a year ago. That means clean bills of health for Michael Strahan, Barrett Green, Tim Carter, Jamaar Taylor, Rich Seubert, Gibril Wilson and Shaun Williams. And that also means incurring no additional debilitating injuries. Camp always is accompanied by bumps and bruises, someone going down for weeks or months or longer. But that someone can't be a key player. The depth on the Giants roster is better than it's been in years, but no team can thrive if it's forced to dig too deeply into that depth.

Ken Palmer: Pollyanna Paul's at it again. Of course they need to come out of camp healthy. But we both know they won't. The last time that happened they were training in Pompton Lakes in 1933 and Paul was just a teenager. Of course, they can't afford to lose a key player or two this summer, but undoubtedly they will. That's why the real onus will be on any of a number of potential key players stepping up and making an impact in Albany. They're going to need Ryan Grant to be more than just a tackling dummy when one of the backup RBs goes down. Heck, rookie Brandon Jacobs couldn't even make it through a non-contact minicamp without having to be carted off. They're going to need Eric Moore to be more than a typical late-round pick when one of the top three DEs is inevitably shelved. How about the ageless Bob Whitfield and resurgent Visanthe Shiancoe stepping up when Luke Petitgout and Jeremy Shockey go down to their various ailments? And who – show of hands please – really thinks Tim Carter is going to make it through the season – let alone camp – healthy? The key isn't for the Giants to stay healthy – that's not realistic. The real key is to have people in place to lessen the blow.

PS: Kenny, the offseason must have been good to you, as you're actually making sense. That's likely just a temporary condition. In any case, can we mention Eli Manning when it comes to the keys to camp? At this time a year ago, Manning was treading lightly as he ventured into his first NFL camp, knowing he would have to score a knockout in order to beat out veteran Kurt Warner from the starting quarterback job. There's no need for Manning to even glance over his shoulder, unless he wants some encouragement from Jesse Palmer or Tim Hasselbeck. Eli's the man in charge, it's his offense, and the Giants need to see him take a quantum leap forward in terms of command, presence and leadership. It was eye-opening to hear Manning this past spring politely request Jeremy Shockey's attendance at the offseason workout program. Now Eli has to turn it up a notch, to control the fields in Albany as if they were his own.

KP: Good point, buddy. But it's not just Eli's leadership that's going to define this treacherous month at your alma mater. The other so-called leaders need to lead. Last year, most of the big names spent plenty of time in Albany complaining about the new coach. This year, they need to make sure they're just worried about the man in the mirror. The Giants have plenty of potential leaders on this team – but they need to act it, not just talk about it. From the Strahans to the Barbers to the Shockeys, all lead in their own way. But they need to set the tone for the newcomers and youngsters right from the first meeting in Albany. They need to ensure that everyone knows the Giants way and follows it strictly. The talent level hasn't been and isn't a question – the desire and consistent dedication certainly has been and still is. The Giants players – to a man – need to turn over a new leaf right out of the chute at U-Albany.

PS: What else do the Giants need to get out of this camp? They need to make sure their cafeteria is well stocked as long as Kenny Palmer enjoys meals free of charge. You know that look Strahan gets when he's bearing down on a quarterback? That's nothing compared with Kenny's demeanor when there's one slice of pizza left and he's still grazing. The big guys on the squad also can pack it away, which brings us to another key for camp. The Giants need to stabilize their defensive line. Strahan (if healthy) and Osi Umenyiora are set at the two defensive end spots and Fred Robbins is likely a strong starting candidate at one tackle spot. There's a host of unproven youngsters in the mix in the middle and someone needs to emerge. It's probably too much to ask disappointing William Joseph to be that someone, but others in the picture include Kendrick Clancy, Davern Williams, Kenderick Allen and Damane Duckett. Clancy has some experience and an advantage in that he worked in Pittsburgh under Tim Lewis, the Giants defensive coordinator. Out of that group the Giants must find capable starters to anchor the middle of their line.

KP: Right again, Paul. But trust me on this one – media members and players alike know to steer clear of you when you're headed toward the frozen yogurt. Your love for that metal machine makes Isiah Thomas' infatuation with Larry Brown seem juvenile. Seriously though, the absolute main thing the Giants need to take out of Albany is their support of Tom Coughlin. Players have spoken how their relationship with the boss is much better and that a year makes a world of difference. All that might be just talk once double-sessions in the Albany heat start up. But the players realized they can't fight town hall and win, so they had better learn to live with Coughlin. They certainly can't be with the one they love, but they sure as heck better start loving the one they're with.

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