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Monday, June 28, 2010
NFC East Beat Writers Series: Giants

By Calvin Watkins

Today we begin a week-long look at the NFC East.

We talked to the beat writers of the Cowboys' divisional opponents and asked them to break down the teams they cover as best they can.

First is Big Blue, the New York Giants, covered by ESPNNewYork.com's Ohm Youngmisuk. We ask Ohm for five concerns the Giants face and five things they shouldn't worry about.

Five things Giants need to worry about:

1. Middle linebackers. Don't know about this. They have to replace Antonio Pierce and the top two guys, Jonathan Goff and Phillip Dillard, are totally unproven.

2. Defense returning to its old standard. In 2007 and 2008 the Giants were a top 10 defense, but last year they finished 13th. The defense gave up at least 40 or more points in three of the last four games of the year. The team has a new defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell, and the players like his attitude, and that's a plus.

3. Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. Both want to start opposite [defensive end] Justin Tuck and that's good, but the bad part is Osi keeps saying the best players will start and he will be a leader and he won't be a problem. But he also says if he's the best player but doesn't start, it's going to be a problem. They have to solve this problem, if it becomes one.

4. Offensive line/running game. All the running backs are coming off surgery -- Brandon Jacobs (knee), Ahmad Bradshaw (both feet and ankles), Andre Brown (Achilles) and Danny Ware (elbow). They didn't have a 1,000 yard rusher for the first time since 2002. The offensive line was banged up and showed signs of age. The bulk of the veteran starters are either 30 or older or just nearing it."

5. Safety. "Kenny Phillips has to come back. The question is, can he? He said he has no swelling in that knee and he's doing light running and little cutting. He is on track to come back for training camp. His return is important with Chad Jones' status uncertain. I'm not sure how much Deon Grant has left."

Five things not to worry about:

1. Wide receiver. Plenty of depth here when you have Steve Smith, Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss and Hakeem Nicks. I think Ramses Barden, who enters his second year, adds another threat.

2. Eli Manning. They know what they're getting from Eli. He threw 27 touchdowns for a career-high 4,021 yards, his best season, and they didn't make the playoffs. Solid.

3. Pass rush. "Overall the defense has that issue with Osi and Kiwanuka but they have an excellent pass rush. That front line if healthy is very good with Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, Barry Cofield and the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul.

4. NFC East schedule. The Giants won't face a division opponent until Oct. 25 at Dallas. New York has four winnable games in the first six weeks of the season, and a solid record going into the Cowboys game will make that game bigger.

5. Tom Coughlin. He dumped three assistant coaches on defense and made the right hire at defensive coordinator. His job isn't on the line right now because the team seems behind him and he understands how important this year is to the Giants.