New York Giants: David Carr

The New York Giants have been in contact with the representatives for free-agent quarterback Josh Freeman and could have the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers' first-round pick in for a visit and workout next week, sources familiar with the situation said Friday.

Nothing official has been scheduled in terms of a visit, and it's unclear whether the Giants' interest predates Thursday's news that starting quarterback Eli Manning had surgery on his ankle. But the timing of the Freeman news is interesting in light of the possibility that Manning could have to miss time in the offseason as he recovers from his surgery.

As I mentioned in Thursday's analysis of the Manning news, the Giants don't generally employ a fill-in-starter type of backup quarterback. Manning hasn't missed a game since he got the starter's job during his 2004 rookie season, and the Giants count on him to be able to suit up and play every Sunday. In recent years, backups such as Curtis Painter and David Carr have had their jobs mainly because of their abilities to portray opposing quarterbacks on the scout team every week.

But Freeman, who has started 60 NFL games since the Buccaneers took him with the 17th overall pick in 2009, could represent a viable fill-in, either in the preseason if Manning is slow to recover or in the regular season if the Giants are concerned Manning might be at risk of missing games for the first time in his career.

Of course, there's no guarantee Freeman would be a good backup quarterback or the Giants' interest will lead to a signing. Freeman was cut by the Buccaneers last year due to a variety of off-field concerns and a personality conflict with since-fired coach Greg Schiano (who obviously had his own issues). He was signed by the Vikings and started just one game -- a horrible one on "Monday Night Football" in MetLife Stadium that turned out to be the Giants' first victory of the 2013 season. He certainly showed the Giants nothing that night that would make them interested in him, but he has shown some talent and had some degree of success in the league. If the Giants can satisfactorily answer whatever questions they have about those off-field concerns, it's possible they could offer Freeman a job.
Why did the New York Giants keep Curtis Painter as their backup quarterback ahead of longtime Eli Manning backup David Carr? My first thought was that it may have had something to do with Painter being six years younger than Carr, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin said in the team's official news release that the decision was based entirely on preseason performance.

"We simply based it on the preseason," Coughlin said. "From the standpoint of all the evaluations, it pointed to the fact that Painter had a better preseason.

"We'll miss David Carr around here, to be honest with you. He's done an outstanding job directing our second offense and our scout team. He has the ability to do whatever we ask of him in that regard. He can run the option, he can be the running quarterback if you want him to do that. Ryan Nassib is going to have to step up and be that guy when you're talking about the teams we play that have a running quarterback."

The Giants drafted Nassib in the fourth round of this year's draft and view him as a developmental prospect. That's why they needed to keep three quarterbacks this year instead of just two -- can't cut Nassib if you intend to develop him, and he's not ready to go into a game if starter Eli Manning gets hurt.

The upshot, of course, is that if Manning has to miss any significant amount of time, the Giants are burnt toast. But since they presumably would not just forfeit the remainder of the season, they would need someone with some NFL experience to take the snaps. As of now, with eight days left before the regular-season opener, it's Painter, who used to back up Manning's older brother in Indianapolis.

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
Most significant move: It was 2011 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin who was the odd man out of the numbers game at defensive tackle when the New York Giants announced their final roster cuts Saturday night. Austin was beaten out for a roster spot by former Eagle Mike Patterson, whose final two years in Philadelphia were negatively impacted by a brain condition for which he underwent surgery. Patterson and veteran Shaun Rogers were impressive in camp and will join a deep defensive tackle rotation along with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins as well as 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins. The reason the move is possibly significant is that this was the position from which the Giants were most likely to cut someone who could be of use to another team. If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, who are banged-up and shorthanded on the defensive line and play the Giants eight days from right now I'm looking into Austin if only for some intel on the enemy. Austin showed potential, but early-career injury issues held back his development, and he didn't perform well enough this offseason to earn a place on the team.

Shorthanded September?: Obviously, there are always more moves to come in the next few days as the Giants sort through the waiver process and see which players who just became available today could be of use to them. One spot where the Giants likely will look to beef up is at running back. They terminated the contract of Ryan Torain, leaving them with four running backs on the roster -- starter David Wilson, backups Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott and "co-starter" Andre Brown, who's likely out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left leg. Keeping Brown indicates that the Giants do indeed expect him back at some point during the season, but it also leaves them with only three healthy backs to start the season. It's possible they could put Brown on injured reserve with a designation to return this season, but they can't do that until Tuesday. If they did, they could add a running back (or a player at some other position). Brown is one of at least seven players (along with Victor Cruz, Henry Hynoski, David Baas, David Diehl, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore) whose status for the early part of the season is in doubt or worse due to injury, so there may not be a lot of wiggle room in picking inactives for the opener.

What's next: Based on performance, the release of Tyler Sash isn't overly surprising, but it does leave the Giants thin at the safety position and leads you to believe they'll try to acquire another safety at some point this week. The first name that will jump to mind is that of former Giant Kenny Phillips, who obviously knows the defense and was released by the Eagles last week. But don't assume they'll view Phillips as their best option. The main reason they let him go this offseason was their concern that he'd never be able to get his knee fully healthy, and the reason the Eagles (who aren't exactly strong at safety themselves) let him go was because he couldn't get healthy enough to practice. The Giants like what rookie Cooper Taylor has shown lately, and they like Will Hill as an option at safety, so they may decide they only need to weather the four games for which Hill is suspended to start the season. While Phillips is a possibility, there will be other choices, and likely a few the Giants like better.

Giants moves:

Waived: DE Matt Broha, OT Stephen Goodin, S David Caldwell, OL Matt McCants, CB Charles James, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Julian Talley, LB Kyle Bosworth, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, OL Eric Herman, OL Bryant Browning, WR Kevin Hardy, WR Marcus Harris

Contracts terminated: QB David Carr, RB Ryan Torain

Waived/injured: S Tyler Sash, OL Selvish Capers

Reserve/physically unable to perform list: DT Markus Kuhn (knee)

Injured reserve: WR Ramses Barden (knee)

Suspended: S Will Hill

Welcome to cut-down day

August, 31, 2013
Ah, yes. That gloriously inexplicable day for fans to obsess over players who are either not good enough or barely good enough to make their team. NFL teams must trim their rosters from 75 to 53 by 6 p.m. ET, and I shall, of course, be here to track all of the New York Giants' moves. The agent for defensive end Matt Broha, for instance, has already tweeted that Broha will be hitting the waiver wire. Possible practice squad candidate if he gets through waivers, but certainly not a surprise cut.

The interesting story of the day to me is what the Giants do with regard to running back Andre Brown, who fractured his left leg in Thursday night's preseason game in New England. The early timetable for Brown's recovery is four to six weeks, which would seem to indicate they could keep him on the 53-man roster and wait it out. But if they're concerned the recovery might last longer than that, they could place him on injured reserve.

Now, there are two types of injured reserve. The first is the season-ending type. If the Giants put Brown on IR today, he's out for the year, no questions asked. The other type is the injured reserve with a designation for return, which would allow Brown to return as long as he sits out at least six weeks of practice and at least eight weeks' worth of games. But teams can't use that designation until Tuesday, which means Brown would have to first make the 53-man roster today and then be designated Tuesday. At that time, the Giants could add a player, but they'd have to cut someone today to hold a spot for Brown. Also, teams may only use the IR/designated for return on one player per season, so if they used it on Brown and someone else suffered a six-week or eight-week injury in September, they would face a tough decision on that player.

Other key decisions loom at backup quarterback, where Curtis Painter and David Carr have fought it out for one spot, and at defensive tackle, where the team may be debating whether to give up on 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin in favor of impressive veteran Mike Patterson.

As I said, I'll keep you posted throughout the day.
A look at some of the tough decisions confronting the New York Giants in advance of Saturday's 6 p.m. ET deadline to reduce their roster to 53 players.

Defensive tackle: Could they keep six? Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Shaun Rogers and Johnathan Hankins look like locks. They may not be ready to give up on 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin. And veteran Mike Patterson has played well in the preseason. (Markus Kuhn, we assume, will start the season on the physically unable to perform list.) To keep both Austin and Patterson, the Giants likely would have to give up a roster spot at linebacker or defensive back, and honestly my current 53-man projection doesn't include a spot for defensive end Adrian Tracy. So the odds say the Giants will have to cut at least one defensive lineman they like, and who could be snatched up quickly by another team (cough * Cowboys * cough) looking for help on the defensive line.

Running back: The Andre Brown injury clouds this, because he may or may not need a 53-man roster spot depending on the severity of his injury. But assuming Brown and his fractured left leg aren't on the 53, there's no reason they can't keep all five from the group of David Wilson, Henry Hynoski, Ryan Torain, Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox. Torain is a guy they like as a pass protector, and Cox may well be the new kickoff returner. If they cut someone from the Scott/Torain/Cox group, it's likely because they decided they needed a sixth wide receiver or a fourth tight end.

Offensive line: I have them keeping nine, including injured David Diehl, and if they only keep nine, that likely means good-bye to prospect Eric Herman, whom they like as a project guard.

Quarterback: Assuming they keep fourth-round pick Ryan Nassib, they have to take three quarterbacks, because Nassib isn't ready yet to fill in as the backup if something happens to Eli Manning. The competition for QB2 is between David Carr and Curtis Painter. Flip a coin, honestly. And part of me even wonders how sure we should be about Nassib's spot. He didn't show a lot in camp or preseason. Are they really so bound and determined to develop a young quarterback behind Manning that they'd spend that roster spot on a guy who probably won't play all year?

Defensive back: Charles James was getting a lot of punt-return work in the preseason and would give the Giants 10 defensive backs (six cornerbacks and four safeties) if they kept him. They'll need a spot for Will Hill after Week 4, so somebody from this group could be a short-timer. Tyler Sash's concussion bears watching, but if he has to miss time, they probably have to go and get a safety from somewhere else.

W2W4: Giants at Patriots

August, 29, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even though the starters will play sparingly, there should be plenty to watch for when the New York Giants visit the New England Patriots for the preseason finale (7:30 p.m. ET).

What have you done for me lately? It's a meaningless final preseason game, but the real drama will be at certain position battles. Tonight is one final opportunity for some players to stake a claim for a roster spot.

I broke down the roster position-by-position and who could be on the bubble entering tonight. Keep a close eye on defensive tackle, where guys like Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson could be fighting for a roster spot. Can fan favorite Adewale Ojomo or fellow defensive end Justin Trattou make the final 53 with a sack or two in the finale? Also, will Dan Connor hold on to the starting middle linebacker job or can Mark Herzlich do enough tonight to get back in the mix there?

David Carr is expected to hold off Curtis Painter for backup quarterback while Ryan Nassib could be taking the last live snap of the season with the second team.

Get offensive: The starters may only play 12-to-15 snaps but Tom Coughlin desperately wants to see a spark from his starting offense. After struggling in the red zone repeatedly this preseason, Eli Manning would love nothing more than to punch it into the end zone on one of his two or three drives.

The new line: After the first revamped offensive line struggled against the Jets, Coughlin opted to move Kevin Boothe to center and insert James Brewer in at left guard. Justin Pugh will remain at right tackle alongside right guard Chris Snee. And Will Beatty will stay at left tackle.

We'll get to see how this line does and if the communication will be better than it was against the Jets. We fully expect this to be the offensive line moving forward until David Baas and David Diehl get healthy.

Safety dance: This will be the Giants' first game without the injured Stevie Brown. Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy are now the starters, but the Giants will need to figure out the depth behind them. Tyler Sash, Cooper Taylor and Will Hill should all get an opportunity to show what they can do against the Patriots. For Hill, this will be his last action before serving a four-game suspension when the regular season begins.

Get lucky: More than anything, the Giants just need to finish the preseason without another notable injury. So far, Baas, Victor Cruz, Diehl and Brown are among the starters who have suffered injuries during preseason games. It would be nice to leave Foxborough in one piece.

Coughlin report: Starters will play vs. Pats

August, 27, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin confirmed Tuesday that he will play his starters against the Patriots, in the team's final preseason game.

Coughlin expects to play his first units for 12-15 snaps on Thursday. Rookie quarterback Ryan Nassib will come in after Eli Manning, followed by David Carr, and Coughlin hopes to play Curtis Painter as well.

The first-team offense in particular has struggled thus far in the preseason. They've scored just two touchdowns, and both came on big plays as opposed to sustained drives -- Manning's 57-yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz against the Steelers, and David Wilson's 84-yard TD run against the Jets.

"I'd like to see some continuity and some execution, some performance," Coughlin said, when asked about the offense. "I'd like to see us get the ball in the end zone, I'd like to see us do well on third down. I'd like to see our passing game, with our protection, look like some type of an efficient operation. I'd like to see progress, that's what I'd really like to see [Thursday]."

The Giants are 1-2 in the preseason, have lost two in a row and have looked very mediocre in the process. Coughlin was asked if he is satisfied with what he's seen thus far from his team.

"I don't like the word, I never have. Satisfied is not a good word for me, it doesn't work and it never never has," Coughlin said. "I see things that I like, and I see things that I don't like, and I see things that have to happen, and have to move along. ... It's a work in progress, there's no question about it. It'll be a work in progress when we get ready to play the first [regular season] game, it's just been one of those [summers]."

To be fair, the Giants have had a bunch of injuries to deal with during training camp and the preseason.

"We're trying to get 11 guys to work together, [that] has not been easy," Coughlin said. "There is, I hope, a silver lining in that lots of people have played, lots of experience, lots of guys have been in positions of flexibility. So we've had some things we could see, and I'm hoping that becomes a good thing."

Coughlin report: Starters get a half

August, 22, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin plans to play his starters for "basically a half" against the Jets on Saturday night, in the team's third preseason game.

He also left open the possibility that some of them could play a little more than that, into the third quarter.

"Sometimes that's based on numbers if the numbers aren't where you want them to be," Coughlin said Thursday. "You'd like to get guys 30 snaps in this game."

As for the quarterbacks, Coughlin confirmed that Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib will play Saturday, in addition to Eli Manning. David Carr will sit this one out, after Painter sat out last Sunday's game against the Colts.

But the coach would not reveal who'll play immediately after Manning, and who will be the third quarterback.

"Who comes in second -- we've got some maneuvering thoughts on that one, too, but they're both going to play," Coughlin said.

Nassib, who the Giants traded up to draft in the fourth round this past spring, will almost certainly make the team. Carr and Painter are competing for a spot on the roster.

Carr, Painter talk backup QB competition

August, 13, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said there is a “legitimate competition” for the No. 2 quarterback spot, he essentially dislodged David Carr from what is perceived as a dream job -- that of being a backup quarterback in the NFL.

“You’re evaluated every day,” Carr said. “I’ve been evaluated for the last 12 years so it’s not any different.”

[+] EnlargeDavid Carr
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Carr has a fight on his hands to remain the Giants' No. 2 QB behind Eli Manning.
Instead Carr will be considered for the job, along with offseason acquisition Curtis Painter and rookie Ryan Nassib. And in the likely event that the Giants go with three quarterbacks this season, either Carr or Painter will likely be cut. For Painter, it means he has a legitimate shot at making the roster.

“I think that’s everyone’s goal in the beginning -- you want to come and compete with the guys around you,” Painter said. “For me I just take it in stride and work to get better. It doesn’t feel like too much of a competition in our room, we work well together.”

This isn’t Painter's first rodeo, or even his first Manning. Painter has also played with the Colts, where he worked with Peyton Manning.

“I had the opportunity to learn behind Peyton, which was a good opportunity for me when I was young," Painter said. “And got a little experience there at the end.”

"He’s got great poise, he’s smart," head coach Tom Coughlin said of Painter. "He’s done a good job of understanding what we want. In a limited number of snaps he’s been relatively productive."

The Giants' next preseason game is Sunday against the Colts. Both Painter and Carr said they haven’t been told how much playing time they will get, or where in the rotation they will fit in. But now those reps will be under a microscope.

“They’re very important,” Painter said.

The Purdue product said the Manning brothers have a lot more in common when it comes to the way they approach practice and meetings.

“They’re both very active and both get involved in the offense, and good teammates,” said Painter, 28. “They’re both very friendly.”

Carr, 34, said it was hard to look at any competition for a backup spot and let it affect preparation and performance.

“When you get out on the field you’re doing what you’ve been taught and you’re leaning on experience. You start thinking about the outside stuff and people who are making decisions and all that stuff, that’s literally out of your hands. You’re taking attention away from what you should be focusing on which is playing the game.”

Ultimately, it is a competition for a job that, if things go well for the Giants, will never lead to regular season playing time. As for whether or not that’s a dream job?

“There’s one guy,” said Carr, who has backed up Eli Manning for two seasons. “It’s not like when you’re in baseball and you’ve got five pitchers and if a guy has a bad day he comes out of the game in the third inning. You just don’t do that in the NFL -- especially when you have Eli, franchise quarterback. It just doesn’t happen. You’re there and you’re an insurance policy.”

Gilbride: Backup QB job up for grabs

August, 12, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride says there is a "legitimate" competition to back up Eli Manning.

David Carr, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib are in the mix, and all three got snaps in the preseason opener. The expectation is that the Giants could keep three quarterbacks, with Carr and fourth-round draft pick Nassib behind Manning.

[+] EnlargeRyan Nassib
AP Photo/Don WrightRyan Nassib has a shot at backing up Eli Manning this season, according to Kevin Gilbride.
"I think there’s no question, it’s a legitimate competition," Gilbride said.

The Giants have typically kept two quarterbacks on the roster in recent seasons, but that could change since Nassib likely needs time to be groomed.

"Most places do keep three," Gilbride said. "We’ve been kind of a rarity, and we’ve kind of rolled the dice. But now, when you go with a young guy … drafted him to keep him, who knows what’s going to happen. But that’s what you would think would happen.

"Is he far enough along at the end of preseason camp that you’re saying he can be No. 2 [on the depth chart]? That’s a long way from being decided, and if it’s not, then that will probably determine what the numbers are that we keep. We’ll keep three instead of two."

Gilbride said Nassib has "played pretty well."

"He didn’t get as much protection as some of the other guys got," Gilbride said of Nassib's preseason debut. "But I thought he hung in there, and he was throwing the ball to the right spot. When he had the time, he made some good throws."

Good blocking: While the running backs didn't gain much in terms of yardage against the Steelers, Gilbride was pleased with the way David Wilson and Andre Brown blocked.

"Having to block live for the first time, I thought they did a terrific job in chipping," Gilbride said. "David did a tremendous job the first time. He missed the second time, but he was very physical on the other ones. That was very, very encouraging."

Randle and Jernigan: Gilbride is extremely pleased with what he's seen from Rueben Randle.

"He’s light years from where he was last year," Gilbride said. "The consistency of performance, reacting the right way on all the different looks that you get, in the professional ranks. That wasn’t at the level that you needed, but in terms of his work ethic, his leadership has been phenomenal, and he’s always had great hands. He’s always been a smooth route runner. He’s always going up and gotten any throw that was close."

"In terms of making the right decisions off the coverages, he’s not being fooled," he added. "I mean, who knows what’s going to happen, but I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t continue to play at a high level."

And Gilbride praised Jernigan for his effort Saturday night. Jernigan had two receptions for 28 yards.

"He was excellent," Gilbride said. "He ran a hook-and-up that he was wide open. He ran a corner route where he was wide open. Just couldn’t get him the ball. Biggest thing is he’s got to stay healthy."

"He’s always shown glimpses, he’s always shown flashes," Gilbride added. "As a coach, that’s what’s frustrating because you see it there and you want to get it out on a play-in, play-out, day-in day-out basis. He played really well, so, hopefully, that will continue."

Coughlin Report: All four QBs to play

August, 8, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin said he will try to play all four of his quarterbacks against Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

Coughlin has mapped out about a quarter for Eli Manning. David Carr, Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib then will see snaps after Manning is done.

Coughlin, though, isn't revealing the order of quarterbacks after Manning and Carr.

"Don't worry about it," Coughlin said. "You'll see."

Full speed: Coughlin is eager to see how his young players deal with the increase in speed in the preseason opener.

"The thing that you are not prepared for other than the form tackling -- which is the number one defensive drill that we do -- you're going to tackle live for the first time," Coughlin said. "And you are going to be brought to the Earth for the first time. Ball security is a big issue. Head up, see what you hit. All those types of things that are taught from a fundamental standpoint are now going to happen full speed. People have to be ready for that."

"It will be a good first experience, I am sure," Coughlin later added. "We talked about being physical. We are playing against a very physical team."

Practice report: Randle puts on show

July, 29, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coaches have been raving all offseason long about Rueben Randle and his progress.

On Monday, Randle looked outstanding, making several impressive catches. He waged a battle with cornerback Prince Amukamara, who also impressed Tom Coughlin with his competitive spirit.

[+] EnlargeRueben Randle
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsRueben Randle has one of the early starts in Giants camp.
Randle first caught a pass over the middle from Eli Manning and basically used his body to shield the ball away from Amukamara in 11-on-11's. Randle followed that up with a nice catch on the sideline with Amukamara at his back.

Then came the highlight of the day. Given a ton of time to throw in the non-contact 11-on-11 drill, Manning launched a 50-yard bomb for Randle, who got behind both Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle. Randle still had to make an impressive over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone and held on, garnering a roar from the crowd.

Randle added another leaping grab over the middle in red zone work for a touchdown. The scary thing is, he could've had two more big plays, but he dropped a beautiful deep sideline pass from Manning with Amukamara again in coverage and had another pass in the corner of the end zone batted away by a defender.

Randle seemed to take advantage of Hakeem Nicks being limited in practice. Nicks experienced tightness in his groin Sunday, and took a few snaps in 11-on-11 drills on Monday but otherwise was limited again.

The key will be seeing if Randle can keep this up. He's set to be the third receiver, and could play an even bigger role if Nicks' health becomes an issue again.

Pick city: Randle's catches actually overshadowed a strong day by the defensive secondary. Coordinator Perry Fewell screamed with delight as the Giants intercepted five passes on the day. Every quarterback besides Manning threw at least one pick.

Ryan Nassib and Curtis Painter threw two interceptions apiece, and David Carr threw one.

Jayron Hosley, who has been working with the third-team defense, intercepted Painter in seven-on-seven drills. Laron Scott picked off a deflected pass from Nassib in seven-on-seven. Safety Tyler Sash made a diving interception off Painter and Aaron Ross had a pick-six off Carr.

Junior Mertile added the final interception of the day, off Nassib in the end zone in red zone practice.

Flashes: LB Jacquian Williams had an active practice, knocking down two passes. … Rookie DE Damontre Moore continued to impress with his second-team snaps. He had one nice inside move and showed good push against a running play. … RB David Wilson flashed his speed and agility on a few runs. … Rookie Justin Pugh, working with the second team at right tackle, had a nice pull block. … Jerrel Jernigan drew applause from fans on a couple of nice punt returns. … Victor Cruz dropped a short pass but still got a lot of love from the fans.

Camp preview: Quarterbacks

July, 15, 2013
Eli Manning Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesThe success of the Giants lies on Eli Manning's shoulders.
We're counting down to training camp with a look at the Giants, position by position, starting with quarterback.

Position: Quarterback.

Projected starter: Eli Manning.

Projected reserves: David Carr, Ryan Nassib.

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.

Mailbag: What about Marvin Austin?

June, 24, 2013
We weren't able to have a chat last week so here are some leftover questions from my previous chat:

Al (Eatontown, NJ): Do you see Marvin Austin making the team this year?

A: Defensive tackle is going to be one of the most competitive units in all of camp. Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will start. But then it will be a battle royal between Mike Patterson, Shaun Rogers, Austin, rookie Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn. Will the Giants keep five defensive tackles? The Giants will definitely keep Joseph, Jenkisn and Hankins, the team's second-round pick. Patterson, Rogers, Austin and Kuhn will be fighting for perhaps one to two spots. Perhaps the Giants will keep six defensive tackles considering how shoring up the run defense is a major priority. But that might be a stretch. Austin has much to prove since he hasn't done much thus far in his career and hasn't gotten that many opportunities. But it is hard to see the Giants giving up on their 2011 second-round pick already. Jerry Reese doesn't like to do that so my guess is Austin will be on the roster this season.

Rick (Murray Hill): Way too much emphasis on the D-line and not nearly enough at linebacker. It's a fundamental problem with the way this team is constructed. Great to get to the quarterback, but even better to have guys in the middle that can tackle once the ball is past the line of scrimmage.

A: Rick, the Giants place much more of a premium on their defensive line than their linebackers. Sorry, but that is the way they operate. Look at how the team treats the position. The Giants draft linebackers low in the draft and sign cheap veteran free agents for the most part. All the value is placed on the defensive line and that is why you saw the Giants going out and loading up at defensive tackle this offseason. The philosophy is to stop the run at the line first and foremost.

Pete (Asbury Park): Ryan Nassib or David Carr as Eli's backup?

A: I still believe that the Giants will need Carr to serve as an experienced backup this season while Nassib learns the ropes and gains experience. Carr can help Nassib grow tremendously. The problem is, will Tom Coughlin keep three quarterbacks? The Giants are going to feel a tight squeeze and have to make difficult decisions at other positions such as defensive tackle.

Dan (Queens, NY): Do you believe they will stop lining Corey Webster opposite of teams' number one receiver?

A: I think Webster would have to struggle again and Prince Amukamara would have to continue to ascend. If Webster has a repeat of last season, Amukamara could perhaps surpass him with a very impressive season. But the Giants are counting on Webster to bounce back and he is considered their top cornerback.

Tyler (NY): What's the chances of both James Brewer and Brandon Mosley seeing lot's of time this year?

A: I suppose it is always possible that both play awesome in camp and impress the coaches. But of the two, I only see Brewer potentially gaining considerable playing time if he were to win the right tackle job over David Diehl and Justin Pugh. Otherwise, Brewer and Mosley likely would only see "lot's of time" due to injuries to starters. The two did see more snaps in OTAs and minicamp with Chris Snee and David Baas recovering from offseason surgeries. The Giants took a look at several linemen at different spots such as using Kevin Boothe a bit at center.

Carr content despite backup QB battle

June, 12, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the Giants traded up to draft Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib in the fourth round back in April, many reporters and fans were stunned.

After all, the Giants have a star QB in his prime in Eli Manning, and a solid veteran in David Carr.

[+] EnlargeDavid Carr
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsDavid Carr faces a challenge from draft pick Ryan Nassib as the Giants' backup QB.
Suddenly there was competition for the backup quarterback job. And you couldn't blame Carr, who had just re-signed with the Giants in March, if he was upset.

But Carr said Wednesday he doesn't regret his decision to return to New York. "If I’m gonna go on the field, I’d rather go on the field with a Super Bowl champion than a team I’m not sure about," said Carr. "In a system I’ve spent a good part of my career in.

"This is a good situation for me."

Carr admitted that if something like this happened early in his career, he would have "freaked out." But entering his 12th season in the NFL, his perspective has changed.

"You just see things differently," Carr said. "It’s not a negative at all. I’m super happy for Ryan. I think he’s a great kid. I think that he’s gonna have a great career. And I’m gonna do everything I can to make him a good football player."

Carr, 33. has had one of the most unique careers in recent NFL history. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft in 2002 out of Fresno State, selected by the Houston Texans, an expansion team at the time.

He spent five years in Houston, but the Texans went just 24-56 during that time. And Carr took a tremendous beating -- sacked an NFL-record 76 times as a rookie, and leading the league in QB sacks in two of the next three seasons as well.

After one year with the Carolina Panthers, staring four games, Carr joined the Giants in 2008. He has served as Manning's backup for four of the past five years (spending 2010 in San Francisco). But Manning has started an NFL-best 135 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to 2004, meaning Carr's opportunities to play have been extremely limited -- he's appeared in just 11 games, and thrown 48 passes, in four years.

Now even his role as the Giants' No. 2 quarterback isn't a given. Still, Carr sounds at peace with where he is, and what he's doing.

"It sounds cliche, but I know that Christ has a plan for my life, and I’m just going out and trying to play as good a football as I can," Carr said. "God wants me to be here, and he allows me to play, and puts me in a situation. I’m gonna do what I can with the skills that he’s given me, and I’m gonna help as many people as I can."

Carr compared Nassib to his younger brother Derek, who also plays QB for Fresno State, and said Nassib has impressed him thus far. "He’s a great kid," said Carr. "Solid mechanics. But just like any guy, you’ve got a lot to learn. And I think he knows that, he understands that, and he’s working his tail off, and he’s studying hard, and he’s asking a lot of questions."

As for Carr, even if he does serve as the Giants' No. 2 QB again this season, his days in New York are clearly numbered. But he still feels he has a lot to offer NFL teams.

"Physically I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything," he said. "When you’re young, you don’t know anything, and you kinda wish you could speed along that process and meet your physical ability. When you get too old, your physical ability is not able to keep up with what you’re seeing on the field.

"Right now I feel like I’m at the peak."