New York Giants: Steve Brown

Camp preview: Defensive backs

July, 18, 2012
As training camp approaches we're taking a look at the defending champions, position by position.

Position: Defensive backs.

Projected starters: CB Corey Webster, CB Terrell Thomas, S Antrel Rolle and S Kenny Phillips.

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesTerrell Thomas, who signed a new contract in the offseason, is returning from a knee injury.

Projected reserves: CB Prince Amukamara, CB Jayron Hosley, CB Michael Coe, CB Justin Tryon, S Tyler Sash, S Stevie Brown.

New faces: Hosley, Brown, CB Antwaun Molden, S Chris Horton, S Will Hill, DB Janzen Jackson, DB Dante Hughes and S JoJo Nicolas.

Going, going, gone: CB Aaron Ross, S Deon Grant, S Will Blackmon and DB Derrick Martin.

Player to watch: Thomas. He has been cleared for training camp coming off the second torn ACL injury of his football career. He was having an outstanding camp last year and was poised for perhaps his best season before he suffered his season-ending knee injury in a preseason game. Thomas is motivated to prove that he can return to the level he was at before; if he can, the Giants secondary will be better than it was last season with one of its best tackling defenders back opposite Webster. Thomas may also cover slot receivers as well.

Potential strength: The secondary will be a competitive unit in training camp and might be deeper than last season if healthy. GM Jerry Reese signed Brown, Molden and Horton while drafting Hosley in the third round. Thomas said that Coe and Tryon shined during OTAs and minicamp while getting extra reps in his place as he took things slow with his surgically repaired knee. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell also praised CB Brandon Bing for his play during OTAs.

Amukamara should improve in his second season even though he missed most of his rookie year due to a foot injury. And if Amukamara isn't ready for more snaps, veterans like Coe, Tryon, Molden and potentially Bruce Johnson, who missed all of last season due to injury, can step up. Due to injuries last season, Rolle had to take on even more responsibilities such as covering slot receivers at times. With a healthier secondary, Rolle should be able to return to playing a more familiar role at safety and be the ball hawk that he yearns to be.

Potential weakness: Health. Thomas, Coe, Tryon and Johnson are all returning from season-ending injuries. If Thomas struggles to regain his form, the Giants will need someone else to step up. Amukamara required an injection to help strengthen his foot, which kept him out for half of last season. Health is always a concern for the Giants and their secondary. The Giants also lose valuable experience and leadership with Grant still unsigned.

Wild card: Amukamara. He lost most of his rookie season and valuable experience and coaching due to his broken foot suffered in training camp. The Giants drafted him in the first round in 2011 with hopes that he will become a starting cornerback soon. The hope for this season is that he will replace Ross as the third cornerback, mature and show his first-round pedigree.

Fewell's state of the Giants' defense

June, 14, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Perry Fewell knows the Giants' defense can be better this season than it was last year if it remains healthy and motivated.

“I said a year ago before we sustained all the injuries that we would have a pretty good defense,” Fewell said. “(Then) after all the injuries that we would not be a great defense but we would be a good defense. Those guys will decide how good we can be.”

“I found this out about our New York Giant football players … If they take a stand and they are mentally into it and I will use the term, if they are all in, we can be whatever we want to be. So I am not going to come out and say we can be this or be that. I am going to leave that up to the players because self-motivation or their motivation to be champions again will determine where we want to go.”

And with that, here are some of Fewell’s observations on the state of the defense as we leave minicamp and head into the summer and next month’s training camp (we will explore some of these topics more in-depth in the Giants blog in the coming weeks):

Chase Blackburn will be the starting middle linebacker as the team enters training camp at the end of next month.

“I can’t say he will stay there permanently, but right now Chase is our guy and no one has clearly beaten him out for the position,” Fewell said. “Chase has some distinct advantages over some of the other guys.”

“He probably knows as much about our defense and how to make the calls and run our defense as any of those linebackers with exception of Michael Boley right now.”

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The Giants have two plans in place for Terrell Thomas, who is returning after missing all of last season with a torn ACL.

"We have a backup plan in case he is not ready," Fewell said. "But he is heavily in our plans. Again, we have to wait until Albany to see which plan we go with. Like anything that we try to do, we have a Plan A and a Plan B and he is in the Plan A."

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Fewell says he has liked what he has seen from his linebackers and feels comfortable enough to use three linebackers more often than he has the past two seasons.

“I definitely feel comfortable playing three linebackers in our base defense at this point in time based on what I have seen in this training camp and the OTAs,” Fewell said. “Again we will find out in the preseason if we can do that.”

• • •
Marvin Austin adds a different dimension to the front line at defensive tackle.

“I am excited about Marvin Austin,” Fewell said. “He is different than the other defensive tackles we have because he has legit speed and quickness and get off. I am going to have to learn how to use Marvin a little bit differently than Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers and Rocky Bernard because I think he can really cause some offensive linemen some problems with some of the things he can do.”

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Fewell said Prince Amukamara needs to improve physically before he reports for camp.

“Prince was still under the doctor’s care until the second mandatory minicamp practice,” Fewell said. “He was getting his feet wet again. We didn’t try to push him. I think he only took 50 percent of the reps if that. The five-week period, Prince has to get himself into great shape physically. I think mentally, he was into it in the classroom, but Prince needs to work physically and training camp will be a big deal for Prince.”

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Safeties Steve Brown and Will Hill made an impression on Fewell.

“Brown really showed me some things that I didn’t see in his workout,” Fewell said. “He was a guy that I thought, ‘hey we can do some multiple things with.’ I didn’t think that initially but after OTAs and minicamp, I thought he did some nice things for us.”

“I still like Will Hill,” he added of the rookie free agent from Florida. “I think he is a talented young man. The volume of things that we do, you could see taxed him a little bit. Again, we will try to put him in a position where he can have some success and not have so much to think about.”