A lot has transpired over the last few days, let us get up to speed.
After having a tremendous game against the Carolina Panthers, JPP's back has flared up. As a result of his recurrent back problem, JPP had to sit out of practice. This is nothing new. Last year, JPP explained his enigmatic back condition. When he goes into a three-point stance, he endures a pinching back pain. Thankfully, the pain subsides in 4 days to a week. Let us hope this is the case. Because if a rejuvenated Shawn Merriman can put up impressive sack numbers against the Bears, the sky is the limit this Monday night with JPP.
As for linebacker Michael Boley, his back condition appears to be more severe than JPP's. Head coach Tom Coughlin did not specify the extent of Boley's back injury. The unwelcome news of Boley's back injury and Deon Grant's arrival at training camp is no coincidence. Boley, the team's best linebacker in coverage, could be sidelined for an extended period of time. And the Giants do not have quality depth at this position. An important takeaway from the Carolina game, the Giants pass coverage against tight ends is still problematic. By having Grant back, at least, the Giants can place a patch on the problem. Because Grant, a safety by trade, filled in nicely as a pseudo-linebacker.
Other significant injury news, DE Justin Tuck did not practice on Wednesday. Tuck sat out of practice due to a sore achilles. Thus far with injuries affecting JPP and Tuck, it is an uptick Osi is back at camp practicing. With Osi getting repetitions in, this softens the blow of JPP and Tuck missing practice time.
Speaking of practice, starting left tackle William Beatty is giving Osi all he can handle. Despite getting off to an inauspicious start against the Panthers, Beatty hung in there and was solid. This is very encouraging news.
After suffering an injury on Saturday, placekicker Lawrence Tynes has been sidelined. With Tynes nursing a sore thigh, the Giants signed Rhys Lloyd. This is an uptick too. If Tynes did not get injured, the Giants would have never considered bringing in competition. Although Lloyd has been used exclusively as a kickoff specialist, he will have an opportunity to make the most out of his situation. More importantly, the new NFL rule based on "safety" which places the kickoff from the 30 to the 35 yard line helps Lloyd's chances. If there is a shortcoming to Tynes' game, it is his short kickoffs. Last year, I discussed this at length. Mix in Tynes' short kickoffs plus a rancid special teams unit and you have a recipe for disaster. The Giants cannot continue to surrender hidden yards to their opponents. Remember, the Giants have a tough schedule this year. Giving Brees, Brady, Rodgers et al. a short field would put us at a disadvantage. Therefore, I am rooting for Lloyd to boom each kickoff into the stands. And I hope he makes each extra point and field goal attempt. Certainly, when Coughlin makes his final cuts, this would give him something to think about.
Uncharacteristically, "Eli the Inaccurate" gave us something to think about. ESPN's Michael Kay asked the Giants signal caller this question. "If he believes he’s in that upper echelon?" Eli responded telling Kay and listeners he is a top 5 quarterback. Does it really matter if he is a top five quarterback in the NFL? Clearly, Kay caught Eli off guard. Today, Eli clarified his position with Mike Francesa. “It was kind of like, what am I supposed to say? ‘No, I don’t think so?’” the Giants quarterback said. “I’m trying to compete, I’m trying to be the best quarterback and get to a championship. That’s what I’m trying to do every year.” Lost in all of this hysteria was Eli's remarks about not pining for Burress.
“I didn’t want to put my owners in a spot, I didn’t want my other teammates in a spot to say ‘we needed him’ because then all the sudden it will be in the papers that Eli doesn’t think his receivers are good enough,” Manning said.
Read between the lines. Eli is not a leader. His company man too a fault attitude hurts his relationship with his team. His inability to stand up for them is his tragic flaw. For example, Tom Brady was quite outspoken when the Patriots allowed Deion Branch to sign with the Seahawks. On the other hand, when the Giants did not sign Burress, Smith, and Boss, Eli was silent. As a matter of fact, Eli's unwillingness to restructure his contract in order to make cap room for other players has placed a strangle hold on the rest of the organization. When the chips will be down this season, Eli will have difficulty rallying his teammates because he does not have their backs.