Monday, May 7, 2012
Gilbride hoping top picks help right away
By Matt Ehalt
NEW HAVEN, CONN. -- With the departure of Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs this offseason, the Giants have openings at backup running back and No. 3 receiver.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is hopeful the team's top two draft picks, running back David Wilson and wide receiver Rueben Randle, can help fill those voids.
"That's what we drafted them for," Gilbride said Monday night.
He added: "You got your fingers crossed, you never know, but they look like they have enough physical skills to come play."
Gilbride, along with receiver Hakeem Nicks, talked about winning the Super Bowl to an audience at Gilbride's alma mater, Southern Connecticut State University. Gilbride played for and coached the Owls, and the pair answered questions from the audience.
The offensive coordinator specifically said he believes Randle will give the team the outside threat needed with Nicks and Cruz receiving double teams. As it stands, Nicks will be the primary receiver on the outside, while Cruz is in the slot.
"(The slot receiver) was what Cruz was this year," Gilbride said about Cruz being the team's slot guy. "He can play the outside, but he was much more proficient inside."
That leaves a spot on the outside to be filled, be it by Randle or by a returning player like Ramses Barden or Jerrel Jernigan. Gilbride said Jernigan, who has slot receiver qualities, is going to have to learn how to be more of an outside receiver with Cruz having the slot duties.
"You need that third guy," Gilbride said. "Hopefully, if not one of our returning veterans, Randle will be able to give us what we're looking for."
OFFENSIVE LINE SHIFTING: The other question mark surrounding the Giants offense is the status of the offensive line and how the line will reshuffle. With Kareem McKenzie, the former right tackle, now a free agent, and left tackle Will Beatty returning from an eye injury, there will once again be some shuffle among the unit.
Gilbride said the team hasn't made a decision, but moving Dave Diehl to right tackle and keeping Kevin Boothe at left guard is the most likely configuration.
"That would certainly seem to be the most likely way to do it," Gilbride said. "Those are your five guys starting. If we keep Beatty healthy, he's already out now. You have five starters but you got to get some guys behind that come to the forefront in case one of them goes down."
Diehl started last season as the left guard before moving to left tackle after Beatty went down. Boothe slid in as the left guard when Diehl shifted about midway through the season.
The offensive coordinator also mentioned drafted tackles Brandon Mosley and Matt McCants as replacements and depth, and is hopeful that one of the young players on the offensive line will emerge this season. He believes that improved play from the offensive line can galvanize a 32nd-ranked rushing attack.
"There were too many changes and injuries with the guys so we never really meshed," Gilbride said. "We got better as the season went on and the playoffs we got it going a bit. Right now, to be honest, we're throwing the ball so well that it opens up opportunities for the running game."
NEW TIGHT END: The Giants will have a new starting tight end this year in Martellus Bennett, the former Cowboys they signed as a free agent. While Bennett didn't put up glowing statistics as the backup in Dallas, the Giants see a lot of potential.
"I think he has the chance to be a very good all-around player; blocker, receiver, the whole bit," Gilbride said. "He just hasn't done it to the satisfaction of the Dallas people. We look at him and we see as a guy that physically has the chance to be very good."
OSI?: A fan asked Gilbride about what will happen with defensive end Osi Umenyiora, and not surprisingly, Gilbride said he does not know. He said the Giants want him to stay but Umenyiora is not happy with his contract, and it remains to be seen how it all is resolved.
PRAISE FOR HIS QB: Gilbride stayed up to watch Eli Manning on Saturday Night Live and gave his quarterback a passing grade.
"I enjoyed it," Gilbride said. "For me to stay up until 1 o'clock, it has to be pretty good."