2014 DRAFT GUIDE
After missing playoffs, Giants look to bounce back

By TOM CANAVAN - AP Sports Writer
    2013-07-23 12:27

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - A year ago, the New York Giants failed miserably in their bid to get back to the Super Bowl and defend their title.

This year, the Giants just want to stay home - and become the first NFL team to play the Super Bowl in their backyard.

The first cold-weather Super Bowl is being held in New Jersey, and the Giants have the offense to get there.

Eli Manning is in his prime. The dynamic Victor Cruz is re-signed and there are enough pieces on the offense to make coach Tom Coughlin's team's a threat for a third title in seven years. The question mark is the running game in the post-Ahmad Bradshaw era.

The concern, however, is the defense, the unit that was the key to titles in the 2007 and `11 seasons. It was the NFL's second worst in 2012 and the new-look unit needs to be better.

``We missed the playoffs last year,'' Manning said. ``That's the goal. You can't win a championship if you don't make the playoffs. It is about doing whatever it takes and making sure we're putting ourselves in position to make the playoffs toward the end of the season and then excelling at the end of the season to finish that job.''

The Giants (9-7) didn't miss the playoffs by much. The difference was a 3-5 finish after a 6-2 start.

Five things to look for as the Giants opening training camp:

1. JPP READY OR NOT: Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, the catalyst of the defense with 27 1/2 sacks in 48 games, had surgery to repair a herniated disk in his lower back in June. The recovery time was expected to be 12 weeks which makes him a question mark for the start of the season. With the loss of Osi Umenyiora to free agency, Mathias Kiwanuka is back at DE. Third-round draft pick Damontre Moore has some of that freakish pass-rush talent that JPP has exhibited and he might be the surprise this season.

2. WHO'S IN THE RUNNING? Manning is going to have new faces in the backfield. David Wilson, the first-round pick in 2012, is the No. 1 back with the release of Bradshaw in a salary-cap move. Wilson is a breakaway threat but he has to prove he can pick up the blitz. Andre Brown is No. 2 despite coming off a broken leg. The other concern is at fullback. Henry Hynoski needed surgery on his left knee after being injured in the June minicamp.

3. NICKLE AND DIME DEES: With questions at linebacker and a plethora of seasoned defensive backs, expect the Giants to use a lot of nickel and dime defenses. The three-safety formation was a staple in the run to the Super Bowl in 2011, so coordinator Perry Fewell probably will roll out more gimmick defenses to match the more pass-orientated NFL. Look for veterans Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Ryan Mundy, Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas - coming off two ACL surgeries - to lead the way.

4. HAKEEM NICKS MIGHT BE KEY: While Manning and Cruz are the offensive catalysts, New York needs a healthy Nicks at wide receiver to open things up. Nicks, entering the final year of his contract, refused to attend voluntary offseason workouts after struggling last season. He broke his right foot in minicamp and hurt his left knee in the second week of the season. A 1,000-yard receiver in 2010 and 2011, he had 53 catches for 692 yards and three touchdowns last season. He can be a second game-breaker if healthy. Second-year receiver Rueben Randle and free agent signee Louis Murphy, a speedster, might surprise.

5. NEW KIDS IN THE HUDDLE: Veteran Josh Brown replaces Lawrence Tynes as placekicker. Top draft pick Justin Pugh should push veteran David Diehl at right tackle. Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins should see time at defensive tackle, even though free-agent signee Cullen Jenkins and Linval Joseph probably will start. Brandon Myers, who had 79 catches for 806 yards with Oakland last season, gives Manning his first proven tight end entering a camp since the days of Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss.

---

Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Pierre ThomasOct 30 07:22p

New Orleans Saints RBs Khiry Robinson (forearm) and Pierre Thomas (shoulder) are both inactive in Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers Thursday, Oct. 30.

David HawthorneOct 30 07:12p

The New Orleans Saints have declared LB Austin Johnson, LB David Hawthorne, C Jonathan Goodwin, RB Khiry Robinson, WR Nick Toon, RB Pierre Thomas, CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste inactive for Week 9.

Amini SilatoluOct 30 07:12p

The Carolina Panthers have declared OG Amini Silatolu, CB Bene Benwikere, OT Byron Bell, RB Fozzy Whittaker, WR Philly Brown, FS Thomas DeCoud, OG Trai Turner inactive for Week 9.

Brandon BrownerOct 30 04:32p

New England Patriots DT Alan Branch (non-injury related) and DE Chandler Jones (hip) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. S Nate Ebner (finger), DL Dominique Easley (knee), OL Cameron [ More ]

Brandon ThompsonOct 30 04:22p

Cincinnati Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard (hamstring), LB Rey Maualuga (hamstring) and OG Kevin Zeitler (calf) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. DT Domata Peko (toe) and OT Andre Smith [ More ]

Dwight FreeneyOct 30 04:22p

San Diego Chargers LB Manti Te'o (foot), CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) and S Jahleel Addae (concussion) did not practice Thursday, Oct. 30. LB Jeremiah Attaochu (hamstring) was limited. CB [ More ]

Donald BrownOct 30 04:12p

San Diego Chargers RB Donald Brown (concussion) practiced fully Thursday, Oct. 30.

Terrell SuggsOct 30 04:02p

Baltimore Ravens WR Michael Campanaro (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (foot) and LB Terrell Suggs (neck) all did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. OG Marshal Yanda (knee) [ More ]

Brett KeiselOct 30 03:52p

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Brett Keisel (non-injury), SS Troy Polamalu (non-injury) and SS Ross Ventrone (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Ike Taylor (forearm) and FS [ More ]

Bruce CarterOct 30 03:22p

Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter (finger) suffered a broken ring finger during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, but expects to play in Week 9. He will wear a splint on his finger for protection.

Cullen JenkinsOct 30 03:12p

New York Giants DT Cullen Jenkins (calf) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (back, hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) were both limited in practice.

Brandon BoykinOct 30 03:12p

Philadelphia Eagles FS Nate Allen (hamstring) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. TE Brent Celek (back) and WR Brad Smith (groin) were both limited in practice. CB [ More ]

D'Qwell JacksonOct 30 03:12p

Indianapolis Colts LB D'Qwell Jackson (toe), DT Arthur Jones (ankle), LB Erik Walden (quadriceps) and LB Josh McNary (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30. CB Vontae [ More ]

Rashad JenningsOct 30 02:42p

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) said he is on track in terms of his rehab, but there is no timetable for his return. Jennings said he has [ More ]

Jordan CameronOct 30 02:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Anthony CollinsOct 30 02:32p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers OT Oniel Cousins is working at left tackle with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, because OT Anthony Collins (foot) is sitting out practice.

Doug MartinOct 30 02:22p

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Jason VerrettOct 30 01:52p

San Diego Chargers CB Jason Verrett (shoulder) is expected to miss two to three weeks with a torn labrum, according to two sources.

DeAngelo WilliamsOct 30 01:52p

Carolina Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams (ankle) will start the team's Week 9 game against the New Orleans Saints Thursday, Oct. 30, according to head coach Ron Rivera.

R. Griffin IIIOct 30 01:42p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (ankle) received most of the work with the first-team offense during practice Thursday, Oct. 30, and will start in Week 9 if he [ More ]

Jaylen WatkinsOct 30 01:32p

Philadelphia Eagles SS Earl Wolff, FS Chris Maragos and CB Jaylen Watkins could be options to start at safety if FS Nate Allen (hamstring) is not able to play in Week 9.

Giovani BernardOct 30 01:22p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (hip, shoulder) did not participate in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 01:02p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo (back) didn't take part in the walk-through Thursday, Oct. 30, and will not practice with the team. However, head coach Jason Garrett remains hopeful [ More ]

Trent RichardsonOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts RB Trent Richardson (hamstring) is participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Reggie WayneOct 30 12:42p

Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne (elbow) is not participating in practice Thursday, Oct. 30.

Tony RomoOct 30 12:22p

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo's (back) status is making head coach Jason Garrett feel optimistic about his availability for Week 9.

Dallas ThomasOct 30 11:43a

Miami Dolphins OG Dallas Thomas would be the most likely candidate to start at left guard if OG Daryn Colledge (illness) is not able to play in Week 9.

Rashad JenningsOct 30 11:12a

New York Giants RB Rashad Jennings (knee) has been ruled out for Week 9.

Phil BatesOct 30 10:52a

The Cleveland Browns signed free-agent WR Phil Bates (Seahawks) to the practice squad and released CB Marcus Cromartie Thursday, Oct. 30.

Charles SimsOct 30 10:13a

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Charles Sims could have 10 or more touches in Week 9, in the opinion of beat writer Greg Auman.

Ryan MathewsOct 30 09:52a

San Diego Chargers RB Ryan Mathews (knee) is likely to sit out of the Week 9 game and return after the Week 10 bye.

Dennis PittaOct 30 09:52a

Baltimore Ravens TE Dennis Pitta (hip) may never be able to play football again after two surgeries on a fractured and dislocated hip in as many seasons.

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