- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're counting down to training camp with a look at the Giants, position by position, starting with quarterback.
Projected starter: Eli Manning.
New faces: Nassib, Curtis Painter.
The departed: None.
Player to watch: Manning. As Eli goes, so do the Giants. Manning has proven that he is an elite quarterback thanks to his two Super Bowl rings. But he has to play more consistently than he did last year for the Giants to be contenders again. When the defense struggles like it did last year, the Giants depend so much on Manning. Last season, Manning fell short of his normal level of play with 3,948 passing yards and 26 touchdowns -- the first time he failed to throw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns since 2008. He set career highs with 510 yards against Tampa Bay and five touchdowns against Philadelphia, but also had a three-game touchdown drought in the middle of the season -– the worst stretch since his rookie season. Manning and the offense need to be more consistent and a healthy Hakeem Nicks should make a major difference. The defense also needs to give Manning more help and opportunities this year.
Potential strength: The Giants have surrounded Manning with the weapons and supporting cast he needs to have an explosive offense again. The Giants scored the second-highest points in franchise history last year and that was with a banged up Nicks. Manning’s top receiver is expected to be healthier than he was last season when knee and foot injuries slowed the offense at times. And he will be motivated in a contract year. Victor Cruz has the security of a new deal and will continue to thrive with Manning. The Giants added speedster Louis Murphy as a deep threat and Brandon Myers provides a pass-catching tight end as a safety valve. David Wilson and Andre Brown should provide Manning with a good enough one-two punch in the running game. And Jerry Reese re-signed left tackle Will Beatty and used his first-round pick on offensive lineman Justin Pugh to protect Manning.
Potential weakness: Health. Manning needs his receivers and offensive linemen to stay healthy. Two of his starting offensive linemen (Chris Snee and David Baas) are returning from offseason surgeries. Nicks’ health and explosion is vital considering Manning threw for one touchdown or less in 10 games last year. When the Giants needed points the most last season, they scored a total of 14 in two losses at Atlanta and Baltimore. And of course, Manning has to remain injury-free as well. Manning has been a rock and never misses games. But when he struggled through a three-game touchdown drought last season, there were rumblings of a tired arm. Sometimes it's easy to forget that Manning can get banged up as well since he always gets up after a hit. The Giants have depth at quarterback but it's a luxury they hope they won’t need this season. Even though Reese surprised many by drafting Nassib to provide depth and a young prospect to groom at quarterback, a serious Manning injury would cripple the Giants’ title chances this season.
Wild card: Nassib. It will be very interesting to watch his progression in training camp and how he develops. The fourth-round pick impressed coaches early in rookie camp with his ability to orchestrate the huddle. Nassib probably isn't ready to assume the sole backup job to Manning yet. A strong camp showing could convince the coaches that they only need to keep two quarterbacks. But Carr provides the kind of experience the Giants need behind Manning. Even though Tom Coughlin would rather have the extra roster spot, the coach probably will have to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season while Nassib develops.
Tell us your thoughts on the Giants quarterbacks entering camp.