Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell isn't sure what kind of...

Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell isn't sure what kind of scheme he wants to run, but he has high hopes for the Giants' defense. Credit: AP

Three biggest questions:

Who'll be the middle linebacker? The Giants brought in late-addition Keith Bulluck to compete with Jonathan Goff and rookie Phillip Dillard for the job, but it'll be a pretty wide-open race.

Can Eli Manning do it again?

Lost in the disappointment of the 8-8 season, the lack of a healthy running attack and the porous defense was Manning's best statistical season as a pro. He threw for 4,021 yards and 27 touchdowns, both career highs. And he did it while playing about half the season on an injured foot. If he can play at that level again and get a little help from other areas of the team, things should work out for the better.

Will Perry Fewell turn the defense around?

A year after giving up more points than all but one other team in Giants history, Big Blue is looking to a new defensive coordinator to bring not only schemes but a spark. Bill Sheridan clearly didn't connect with the players. That shouldn't be a problem for the fiery Fewell.

Dealing with Osi:

In January he said he'd rather retire than be a situational player. In June he said he believes he should start but dropped the threats of walking away. Now Osi Umenyiora gets his chance to prove that he should be a starting defensive end for the Giants ahead of his key rival for the position, Mathias Kiwanuka. That he's dealing with a hip injury that reportedly will require surgery after the season could encumber him in that pursuit. Either way, how much Umenyiora plays - and his reaction to it - will be a continuing storyline throughout this season.

Safeties first?

The Giants spent a lot of offseason attention (and money) on the safety position, but it's still unclear just how recovered Kenny Phillips, at right, will be from last September's knee surgery. Even if he's not ready to go, the Giants should be strong there with newcomers Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant, who already have taken on leadership roles.

Second chance for first impressions:

Four Giants draft picks from a year ago who had few if any contributions in '09 are looking to make a splash in their sophomore seasons. TE Travis Beckum and WR Ramses Barden could emerge as targets for Manning with their unique skill sets and size, Clint Sintim is penciled in as a starting outside linebacker, and Will Beatty will be given every opportunity to win a starting job at left tackle.

Rookies who'll make a splash:

Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) There's a big crowd at his defensive end position, but with Justin Tuck coming off shoulder surgery and a foot injury that sidelined him in minicamp and Osi Umenyiora dealing with his hip, the first-round athletic freak probably will see decent reps this summer. Backflips? Maybe we'll see those, too.

Matt Dodge (P) The seventh-round pick replaces the best punter in team history (perhaps NFL history) with Jeff Feagles having retired. They're tough footsteps to follow. He'll also have to learn how to hold for kicker Lawrence Tynes, an area in which he has little previous experience.

Duke Calhoun (WR) An undrafted rookie from Memphis, he could find his way on to the team, especially with veteran Domenik Hixon (knee) already lost for the season. At 6-4, he's got good size and hands. And training camps always seem to be a place for young receivers to shine.

Running backs on the mend

The top four running backs on the depth chart have had surgery in the last year. Brandon Jacobs (knee), at right, and Ahmad Bradshaw (ankle, both feet) had them as recently as January, DJ Ware had elbow surgery last September and Andre Brown missed his entire rookie season with a torn ACL. Jacobs and Brown seemed good to go at the minicamps and OTAs, but Bradshaw still was hobbling around a bit and could be limited during the preseason.

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