Giants head to Albany with most holes filled

Can you believe camp's upon us already? None too soon, if you ask me. It's been a great offseason for the Giants and optimism abounds. But there's still a lot of work to be done. The Giants need to plant the seeds of success right now, during this next month in Albany.

In the latest issue of The Giant Insider we go over all that New York needs to accomplish during camp, what they need to take out of their summer ‘vacation' in Albany and the keys to success for the season.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it's time to take a quick look at what tripped the Giants up last season and what they've done to address it.

First things first, the players against coach mentality must dissolve. From listening to players all offseason, it sure sounds like the troops are quickly heading in that direction. In the two offseasons since Tom Coughlin took control, New York has done a good job of bringing in his type of players and weeding out the others. The Giants can and will succeed only if everybody is on the same page moving forward.

Let's look at some of New York's troubles as last season concluded.

The Giants need a receiver that can get into the end zone. Enter Plaxico Burress. He's scored 23 TDs in his career, and the Giants need a lot more from him this year.

The Giants need a short-yardage back. Enter Brandon Jacobs. While the rookie still has plenty to prove, you have to like the success he had in that role both at Auburn and Southern Illinois.

The Giants need a solid left tackle. Enter Kareem McKenzie and Bob Whitfield. Luke Petitgout is going to hold up just fine on the left side, unless of course his back starts troubling him again. If so, the Giants now have Bob Whitfield ready to jump in. On the right side, McKenzie's presence fortifies the entire offensive line.

That ties neatly into another area that hurt New York last year – interior OL depth. When players went down, the Giants really didn't have anyone worthwhile to plug in. Now that's all changed. Behind the guards and center are four players with loads of experience – Jason Whittle, Rich Seubert, who seems to be as healthy as he's going to be, Wayne Lucier and Lewis Kelly.

The Giants need an impact defender in the middle. With all due respect to Kevin Lewis, who works as hard as anyone you'll ever find, Antonio Pierce gives the Giants a playmaker, someone who can make the big stop and make the unexpected athletic play to stop an opponent's drive.

The Giants need someone to catch the ball in the secondary. Enter Corey Webster. The kid seems to have all the tools, and learned from one of the best in college – Nick Saban. With 14 picks during his sophomore and junior years at LSU, Webster can only help in that area, as can the return to health of Gibril Wilson, who managed to pick off three passes last year in only eight games.

The Giants need depth at defensive end. Enter Justin Tuck and Eric Moore. The Giants are as high on Tuck as they are on Webster, and see a real good future for the Notre Dame DE, who's going to get plenty of snaps right from the start.

The Giants need someone to kick off. Enter Jay Feely, who has the best kickoff leg the Giants have seen since the pre-surgery version of Brad Daluiso.

All is not yet perfect in the land of the Giants, however. There are still some glaring potential trouble spots that remain.

Defensive tackle could be a major issue, unless Fred Robbins plays well above the level he did last year and either William Joseph or Kendrick Clancy really steps up. The reserve rotation might end up being better than the starting pair.

The backup QB tandem of Jesse Palmer and Tim Hasselbeck doesn't exactly excite many fans. Not the way a Doug Flutie or Vinny Testaverde would have, but the bottom line is – and we've said this before – if Manning goes down, they're dead regardless of who comes in.

The Giants also looked to upgrade their punt return game, taking a glance at both R.W. McQuarters and Chad Morton, but signing neither.

In a nutshell, the Giants are much, much better off now than when they started camp last year, especially since Manning is the main gun from the get-go, like we still insist he should have been last year. Only time, work ethic, dedication, desire, discipline, smarts, health, mental and physical toughness will determine whether that's enough, starting on July 29.

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