The Player the ‘O' Cannot Live Without

With all the talk of Michael Strahan and how the defense might be forced to hold up without him, it's time to turn our attention to the offense.

Toomer too good – With all the talk of Michael Strahan and how the defense might be forced to hold up without him, it's time to turn our attention to the offense. Now that the Giants have lost Tiki Barber to retirement, a good question is which member of the Giants offense could the team least afford to lose? The answer may surprise you, but there's no doubt who is the most valuable offensive Giant.

Despite all New York's offensive talent, the entire unit took a nosedive last season because of the loss of one player – and one player only. When veteran receiver Amani Toomer suffered a season-ending knee injury midway through the 2006 campaign, the Giants offense was never the same. Toomer has the most dependable hands on the squad, runs the best routes and has that veteran craftiness that can't be taught. He's also become quarterback Eli Manning's security blanket, which was obvious because Manning fell apart last season after Toomer went down. New York's all-time leading receiver, who has somehow never earned a Pro Bowl nod, is not only the most important cog in the offensive machine, but perhaps on the entire team as well.

Marco…Thomas… – No, Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger is no longer the only person that has noticed the excellent camp turned in thus far by receiver Marco Thomas. It seems that at least once a practice, Thomas makes an exceptional catch or blows by yet another defensive back. While it sure would be quite an upset if Thomas were to land a roster spot, stranger things have happened. Especially when you consider that both David Tyree and Michael Jennings are definitely not locks to make the team, Thomas may be only one injury away from sticking. That is, of course, providing that he continues to perform once the exhibition games begin.

So, who exactly is Marco Thomas? We'd be glad to tell you. The 6-1, 175-pound Thomas was signed by New York as a rookie free agent in May. At Western Illinois (the same alma mater as LG Rich Seubert), Thomas played in 43 games and caught 109 passes for 1,691 yards and 11 touchdowns. The high school quarterback earned All-Gateway Conference honors and was his team's leading receiver as a senior, when he caught 58 passes for 738 yards and four scores.

Kicking up a storm – Lawrence Tynes certainly didn't get off to the strong start in camp that he had hoped. But that was basically to be expected, as Tynes' wife, Amanda, had major difficulties delivering the couples' twin boys, which were born shortly before Tynes had to report to camp. But there's no doubt in anyone's mind around the Giants that Tynes will round into shape and eventually come out of camp as New York's kicker. He hasn't exactly displayed the booming kickoff leg everyone would like to see, but you can chalk at least some of that up to Tynes missing a lot of work late in the offseason while tending to his wife. His best camp moment came right before we went to print. Tynes drilled a 48-yard field goal that gave his team – the offense – an extra hour of free time before curfew on Aug. 4.

"It was a lot of fun," Tynes said. "You do feel the pressure, though. It's different kicking with the entire team standing around you. But it does help you learn to kick under pressure."

Open competition – Don't be so quick to hand the backup quarterback job to Anthony Wright. Many made the same mistake last season and just assumed that Jared Lorenzen would follow Tim Hasselbeck on the depth chart. However, Lorenzen was so much better in camp that he actually entered and spent the entire season as Eli Manning's backup. The same scenario could be unfolding once again. Wright was and still is the odds-on favorite, but if the decision came down to the results of the first week of camp, it would surely be Lorenzen's job. He's looked very strong once again, firing extremely tight spirals with plenty of zip into the smallest of openings. Obviously, Lorenzen's conditioning is still a question mark and Wright has a huge edge in experience. But this one is going to have to play itself out during the rest of August. Only then will we know for sure who's number two.

Our apologies – In previous issues of TGI, we gave the impression that both the running back and left guard jobs were up in the air. The comments were based mostly on not successfully reading through coach-speak, which we usually pride ourselves on. In any event, neither so-called competition is even close to unfolding. Barring totally unforeseen circumstances, Brandon Jacobs will be the man at RB – and Rich Seubert at LG. New additions Reuben Droughns and Zach Piller, respectively, will back them up.

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