The day has arrived and the 2012 NFL season begins as various teams have started reporting to summer training camp. Giants began reporting as well and will start practicing Friday 27th July. There are a number of interesting questions and positional battles coming up this summer. The biggest question mark and perhaps the most important unit requiring improvement from last year is the OL. Last year the OL played poorly; they were at the bottom of the league in rushing yards per attempt and Eli was among the most pressureed QBs in the league. Kareem MacKenzie had an awful year and showed that he is at the end of a very solid career. Diehl did not play well at all when he was starting at LG and played a little better when he slid out to LT, but was far from great. Kevin Boothe was a very valuable substitute and played C when Baas was hurt and started at G to fill the void made by Diehl moving to T. He was solid but not much more than that. Many times, his lack of athleticism and quickness got him in trouble and nearly got Eli killed. Snee is the best OL-man but he was hurt last year and his effectiveness was cut down. Beatty played reasonably well at LT before getting hurt, but there was not enough of a body of work to judge if he is a top shelf LT. The shuffle with MacKenzie's release has Diehl moving to RT, Beatty coming back to LT and (initially) Boothe slotted in as the starting LG with Baas at C.
I would like to see someone beat Boothe out for that starting position, because I believe hs is more valuable to the Giants as a substitute than as a starter. Mitch Petrus looked good to me the few times he played - he is a very good run blocker and his pass blocking was coming along and has to improve for him to be a good starter. There are some other candidates for OL play and James Brewer is someone getting a lot of attention from the coaching staff for some time at T. Giants need Baas to simply improve his play or this will go down as one of the only FA busts Reese has ever had. He simply did not play very well last year. There were changes in the OL and lack of training camp time may have caused some of the weak play and lack of communication with a new OL trying to bond. They have a good OL coach in Flaherty and they need to get better play out of the OL this year.
The other thing that affected the running game last year was poor blocking from the TEs and FBs. Though Ballard is really big, he is not quick and did not get himself in good position to block effectively. Pascoe also whiffed on a lot of blocks both on the backside seal as well as lead blocking at the point of attack. Interestingly, Beckum, who is the smallest of the three seems to do a better job though he is somewhat limited in who he can block because of his size. Hynoski started off poorly but as the game slowed down for him, his blocking really improved towards the end of the season and playoffs. This year, Bennet replacing Ballard should help the running game because he is a great blocker, both in-line as well as in open space. The contribution from the TEs and the development of the rookie TE Adrien Robinson is another interesting story in camp. Reese spoke highly of him from an athletic point of view - let's see what he's got.