A year ago, the Giants' biggest issue heading into training camp was dealing with success. This year, it is rebounding from failure.
After missing the playoffs in 2012 with a shaky defense and sputtering offense that left the organization scratching its collective head over late-season drubbings by the Falcons and Ravens, the Giants are trying to regroup for another run at the title.
Before they get there, though, they have to get through the preseason. Players report for training camp tomorrow and the first practice will be held Saturday. Here are five questions that the Giants will have to answer before the regular season kicks off at Dallas on Sept. 8.
HOW LONG CAN/MUSTTHE GIANTS GET BY WITHOUT JPP?
The pass rush was a big disappointment in 2012, and now the Giants look to be starting the season without their best pass rusher. Jason Pierre-Paul had back surgery in early June and could miss the start of the regular season.
After letting Osi Umenyiora walk as a free agent, that leaves Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka as the only established defensive ends on the team. Tuck is coming off two poor seasons and is in the last year of his contract. Kiwanuka is back at end fulltime after spending most of his career toggling between there and linebacker.
The Giants have some young, intriguing players at the position -- Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and draft pick Damontre Moore -- and they'll need at least one of them to step up until Pierre-Paul is back and in shape.
WHO WILL START AT RIGHT TACKLE?
It's a battle between the longest-tenured Giant and one of the newest. David Diehl has had a successful 10-season career with the team, but Big Blue drafted Justin Pugh in the first round with the idea of having him start at right tackle. For a rookie, that's a lot of responsibility to protect Eli Manning, and the last one to start immediately on the Giants' O-line was Chris Snee in 2004. But the unit is in need of younger players and Pugh could wind up having a career just as long -- and versatile -- as the man he is vying to replace.
IS MARK HERZLICH READY TO BE THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE?
One of camp's most intriguing battles will be at middle linebacker. Third-year player Mark Herzlich had a brief flash as a starter when he was a rookie, but spent most of last year as a backup to Chase Blackburn. He's the heir apparent, but the Giants signed Dan Connor as a free agent to compete against him. Aaron Curry and Keith Rivers also offer intriguing options in the middle, but it would seem to be Herzlich's job to lose. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell seemed pleased with Herzlich's performance in the spring.
WILL NEW TIGHT END BRANDON MYERS FIT IN RIGHT AWAY?
Eli Manning has a history of confidence in his tight ends, a tradition that goes all the way back to Jeremy Shockey and has continued through Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Martellus Bennett. Now comes a new set of hands for him to throw to in Myers, acquired as a free agent from the Raiders. Myers' 79 receptions last season are more than any Giants tight end ever posted (Shockey had 74 in 2002), and his ability to draw attention away from Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks should come in handy. But as the Giants' fourth starting tight end in the last four seasons, Myers will have to earn Manning's trust in the coming weeks before he's able to do any of that.
WHO WILL BE THE BACKUP QUARTERBACK?
The Giants have a firm answer to the most pressing question any team faces in training camp: Eli Manning is their quarterback. He hasn't missed a start since taking over the job in 2004 and has won two Super Bowl MVPs. But the uncertainty at the all-important position lies with the second team. David Carr has been a reliable backup and a strong scout team player for the Giants in recent years, but the team decided to get younger at the position and drafted Ryan Nassib in April. They could keep all three quarterbacks on the roster, but they haven't had that many since 2007. If they decide to go with only two, Carr will be the odd man out.