WEEK 12: at NEW YORK GIANTS
Date: Sunday, Nov. 25. Time: 7:20 p.m. TV: NBC.
2011 record: 9-7. Points scored: 394 (9th). Points against: 400 (25th).
Noteworthy: The Giants became the first NFL champion to allow more points than it scored. According to ColdHardFootballFacts.com, 30 teams in the Super Bowl era reached the playoffs while being outscored. Those teams went 23-29 in the playoffs, and only three won more than one playoff game. Eli Manning set a NFL record with five road playoff victories. The series: The Packers are 2-0 at MetLife Stadium, including 38-35 over the Giants in Week 13 of last season. In this matchup, the Giants are coming off of their bye week.
TRAINING CAMP GOALS
1. Settle the offensive line. With the Giants choosing not to re-sign veteran Kareem McKenzie, the plan is to move David Diehl, who last year started the season as the starting left guard before having to move to left tackle after Will Beatty suffered a season-ending eye injury, to the vacant right tackle spot. Meanwhile, at left guard, Kevin Boothe is expected to enter camp as the incumbent, though Mitch Petrus will compete for that spot as well.
The problem, though, is that Beatty, who was cleared medically as far as his eye injury is concerned, developed a back problem early in the spring that kept him sidelined throughout the OTAs and the spring minicamp. While he was optimistic that the rest would help him be ready for the start of camp, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride made little attempt to hide his concern when the team concluded its spring program.
If Beatty is limited in any way, the coaches will audition veteran free agent Sean Locklear, acquired this spring, and second-year man James Brewer, who last year was mostly inactive, at that position.
2. Find a starting middle linebacker. The good news is that the team brought back Chase Blackburn, who after signing with the Giants in December following a broken ankle suffered by Mark Herzlich, held onto the job and performed well right through the Super Bowl. Because of that, Blackburn will enter training camp as the incumbent starting middle linebacker, though whether he exits camp with the job remains to be seen.
The Giants have an abundance of talent that is set to challenge for the starting middle linebacker job. In addition to Herzlich, the undrafted free agent whose inspirational comeback from cancer has made him a fan favorite, there's former sixth-round draft pick Greg Jones, who last season began the year as the starter after Jonathan Goff suffered a season-ending knee injury.
If this position isn't settled by the end of camp, look for Blackburn to remain the starter.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Safety Will Hill, an undrafted free agent out of Florida, got himself noticed this spring by making plays against the run and in coverage. If he is able to build on his strong spring showing during the preseason, and stay focused off the field, he could find himself as the recipient of one of the 53 available roster spots.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Tight end Martellus Bennett, the free-agent acquisition from the Cowboys, comes to the Giants with 85 receptions for 846 yards and four touchdowns accumulated over a four-year career playing behind All-Pro Jason Witten. While those numbers aren't gaudy, over the course of his career, Bennett has caught 70 percent of the balls thrown his way, which is an encouraging statistic.
However, he comes to the Giants with questions about his work ethic and his offseason weight gain. If Bennett doesn't produce, the team may be forced to rely on rookie Adrien Robinson, who missed most of the Giants' spring orientation and workouts because he had to finish his classes at the University of Cincinnati, a lot sooner than they'd probably like.
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