While most Giants fans remain focused on the saga of defensive end Osi Umenyiora and his semi-holdout from training camp, the G-Men have an even bigger question mark on the other side of the ball.
Namely, the tight end position.
At least the Giants have other defensive ends who could immediately step in for Umenyiora, like Mathias Kiwanuka, or even Jason Pierre-Paul. But if free agent Kevin Boss -- the Giants' starting tight end the past three seasons -- ends up signing elsewhere (and he worked out for the Oakland Raiders on Wednesday), the Giants are left without a natural replacement for him on the roster.
Right now, third-year tight end Travis Beckum is seeing increased opportunities in training camp -- something he is very pleased about.
"I always thought that the only way for me to be at my best would be my chances of getting those reps, my opportunities," Beckum said on Thursday. "The more reps the better, and now I'm getting that opportunity, and I'm gonna try to take advantage of it."
Beckum was the Giants' third-round draft pick in 2009, out of Wisconsin. In his rookie season, he appeared in 15 games, accumulating eight catches for 55 yards. Last season, he upped those totals to 13 catches for 116 yards, to go along with two touchdowns -- a 1-yard pass from Eli Manning in a 28-20 win over the Lions in Week 6, and a 2-yard pass from Manning in a 27-17 loss to the Eagles in Week 11.
But Beckum's value extends beyond those statistics, because the Giants have not used him exclusively at tight end. Instead, they have lined up the 6-foot-3, 239-pounder all over the field, including as a blocking back in the backfield.
Coach Tom Coughlin was asked on Thursday whether he could envision transitioning Beckum to playing tight end full-time.
"Well that's a possibility," Coughlin said. "You'd have to change some things in the run game to be able to do that. He had a couple of nice blocks down in the green zone last night that were pretty physical."
Beckum also had a couple of nice catches in Wednesday night's practice, and afterwards Coughlin said he plans to utilize Beckum more in the offense this season. Beckum said he is willing to do whatever the Giants want him to do. But he does see the value of him playing a variety of positions. "It's something that I've been doing since about my sophomore year in college, moving from the backfield to the slot," Beckum said. "I think that's when I'm at my best, when they get me out moving, in space."
"We've blocked him inside from the fullback positon this [camp], we've put him on the edge and done that with him, and we've lined him up at the point," Coughlin said. "He has a special skill set, if you will, and we'd certainly like to take advantage of that skill set."
The Giants continue to wait for Boss to make a decision -- Coughlin said he played phone tag with Boss on Wednesday, each leaving voicemails. The Giants also signed tight end Ben Patrick, a 26-year-old with 45 career receptions in four seasons with the Cardinals, including 15 for 123 yards in 2010. But Patrick isn't considered a No. 1 tight end by most people's standards.
Whatever happens with the Giants' roster over the next few weeks, don't be surprised to see Travis Beckum making more plays for this team this season -- wherever he is lined up.
"It's a learning curve, and you have to take advantage of what you have," Beckum said. "And now that I think that I feel much (more) comfortable with the offense, with the quarterbacks, with the other guys on the team, I can kinda just go out there and play."