W2W4: Giants begin OTAs this week


The New York Giants begin the OTA (organized team activity) portion of their offseason this week with on-field workouts Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We'll be there Wednesday to see practice and to talk to players and coach Tom Coughlin. Then we'll be back the next two Mondays for in-person coverage leading up to the June 16-18 mandatory minicamp.

Here are three things to watch as this latest phase of the offseason program gets underway this week:

1. Offensive line alignment: Obviously, the way the linemen line up on May 27 isn't set in stone and shouldn't be taken as the projected starting offensive line for Week 1. However, in the wake of the Will Beatty injury, it will be interesting to note which combinations the Giants' coaches are interested in trying. Specifically, everyone will want to know who gets the first crack at left tackle. Will it be Justin Pugh, who has started at right tackle the past two seasons? Will it be 21-year-old rookie Ereck Flowers, who was the No. 9 pick in the draft just a few weeks ago? Will it end up having to be someone not on the roster yet? And how will this affect things along the rest of the line? There's no hitting or pads in these practices, but the teams can line up for 11-on-11 drills that allow the coaches to install and practice specific schemes and plays. We will get some sense of how they view their options on the line.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul: The Giants' franchise player still hasn't signed his $14.813 million franchise tender and has been opting out of the voluntary portion of the offseason workouts in order to work out on his own at home. It's possible he shows up and signs the tender this week, but I think we'd all be pretty surprised if that happened. Pierre-Paul was hoping for a long-term deal, and while he hasn't spoken out about any disappointment and things between him and the team seem to be OK, it doesn't make sense for him to expose himself to injury until he absolutely has to. These are voluntary workouts, these OTAs, and while the team would like to have everyone in house, the Giants can't compel Pierre-Paul to attend, and they're really not supposed to criticize him publicly for not attending, either. He'll be here soon enough, and I don't think a training camp holdout is likely. But he's within his rights not to be here if he doesn't want to be at this point in the offseason.

3. Defensive position battles: Who will line up at safety with the first team? Who gets first crack at the starting defensive end spot opposite Pierre-Paul? (And does Pierre-Paul's continued absence open up two spots to allow players to showcase themselves for the coaches?) Who starts at defensive tackle next to Johnathan Hankins? How do they arrange the linebackers? Who's the nickel cornerback? As with the offensive line, nothing we see this week is anywhere close to final. But again, it's always interesting to get a glimpse at what the coaches are thinking about the positions where they have questions and/or competition. Even this early.