One of the big position areas of concern for the Giants this season will be tight end.
I know. I said that last year. But this year I really mean it.
Jake Ballard is gone (although he wasn’t expected to play this season anyway). Martellus Bennett is new and his weight may be an issue and he was unable to participate in offseason work because of a hamstring. Rookie Adrien Robinson has promise (the JPP of …) but has missed most of the offseason program finishing his degree. And Travis Beckum may be quickly progressing from his ACL surgery, but really, even a fully healthy Beckum at this point in his career would put a question mark at the position.
So that leaves the Giants essentially where they left off at the end of Super Bowl XLVI. With Bear Pascoe as the projected starting tight end. Projected? According to Pascoe, sure.
“My plan is right now to work hard and make our team better and hopefully kind of take over that number one spot,” Pascoe said this week. “But we’ve got some great competition out there. Right now, the way I look at it is, it’s anybody’s game. It’s just a matter of working hard and making our team better.”
Pascoe always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. In 2010 he began the season on the practice squad, was called up when Kevin Boss suffered an early concussion, then wound up playing fullback when Madison Hedgecock was injured. This season he played behind Ballard mostly, doing some H-back stuff, but in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLVI it was he and Mario Manningham whom Bill Belichick wanted to beat the Patriots in that infamous video clip from the Patriots sideline.
Now he may be the next tight end to overcome eyerolls about replacing a popular and productive player. First Boss had to replace Jeremy Shockey. Then Ballard had to replace Boss. Now Pascoe may have to replace Ballard.
“Except for Bear, there is nobody that has done it before (with the Giants),” offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said. “You are hoping to have Bear as a swing guy, a second tight end … not necessarily as your starting tight end. But right now he is the starting tight end.”
Pascoe, the only tight end besides Beckum who has caught a pass from Eli Manning, touted that relationship.
“Me and Eli have worked together for the past couple years,” he said. “I think I’ve built some good trust with him. Right now it’s all about building on that trust, you know? Getting detailed, fine-tuned as much as possible, so he’s not worried about me. He knows I’ll be in the right spot. That’s kind of where we’re at right now. Also, it’s bringing those other guys along. If I’m not in there, he’s got trust with them, too. He knows that the tight end group is solid and we know our job and what has to get done.”
It’s just a matter of who does it.
“Somebody else has to step up,” Gilbride added. “You’re hoping Martellus, that’s why he was brought here.You are hoping that Adrien Robinson down the road would be the guy. If not, Bear is going to be the guy. Bear will be the guy. Somebody’s got to do it.”