Friday, June 22, 2012
Position series: Giants cornerbacks
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
Our occasional series examining each team in the NFC East position-by-position will continue today with a look at the cornerbacks for each team. We will start with the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
After injuries ravaged the secondary last season, Corey Webster rose to the occasion and played like a No. 1 cornerback.
Potential strength: Webster really showed a lot last year, stepping up as the team's No. 1 corner in the wake of major preseason injuries to Thomas and Amukamara. The Giants used Webster in a number of ways, and he excelled all over the field. But the most eye-opening performances came in the weeks when he was assigned to "shut down" the opposing team's No. 1 wide receiver and did so, easing the pressure on Aaron Ross and the rest of the secondary. Webster is just 30 years old and there's no reason to believe he'll slow down this year. As long as they can feel confident Webster has his man covered, there's a lot the Giants' defensive coaches can do with the rest of their personnel.
Potential weakness: With Ross gone off to Jacksonville in free agency, Thomas says he's ready to reclaim the starting cornerback spot that was his before his preseason knee injury last year. The question is whether he's all the way back from that injury and will be ready to start the season as a starter. He says he is, but the team is likely to go easy on him in training camp and the preseason. If Thomas can't go, is limited or is just unable to play at his former level for injury or any reason, the Giants would hope that 2011 first-round pick Amukamara could play at a starter's level. But he had foot injury problems last year and didn't have a whole rookie season to get up to NFL speed, so they still don't know what they have there. They could be very strong at the spot opposite Webster, or they could spend much of the year trying to piece things together at that spot. They're optimistic on both guys' health, but right now they don't know for sure.
Keep an eye on: The personnel packages this year. The Giants liked to put three safeties on the field at the same time a lot the last couple of seasons, but they have yet to re-sign Deon Grant (if they're going to), and they look deeper at linebacker than they've generally been. So the three-safety looks could be a thing of the past, and if Thomas and Amukamara are healthy, you could see three corners on the field more than you have in recent years. Tryon and/or Molden could get into the mix, and Hosley, their third-round pick, projects as a potential nickel corner.