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5 questions facing the Giants when training camp begins

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants throws

Daniel Jones of the New York Giants throws a pass during the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 1, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Is Daniel Jones ready to lead this team?

Sure, he was the starting quarterback for most of last year. And despite some admittedly “awkward” moments during 2019, Jones and Eli Manning did a very good job of sharing leadership of the team. But now it’s all on Jones. The second-year player will have to step up to those duties. All signs indicate that he welcomes the job, whether it was while spearheading on-field workouts with teammates over the past few months or grabbing the reins in the virtual offseason program in the spring. Now he finally gets to flex those leadership muscles in person and for the entire team. For his team.

How will the offensive line shake out?

With the fourth overall pick in April, the Giants selected Andrew Thomas to play tackle. They still may not know which side, though. Ideally the spring would have given them a much better picture of how they will deploy Thomas and veteran Nate Solder, either of whom can play on the left or right. Ideally that left tackle job will eventually belong to Thomas, but he may start his career on the right with Solder, coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, looking to re-establish himself at his familiar position. If Solder keeps slipping, though, Thomas may be thrust into the marquee spot. The Giants are fairly set at guard with Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler returning, but they will have some options at center including veteran Spencer Pulley, rookie Shane Lemieux, versatile Nick Gates and possibly Jon Halapio if he can rebound from a burst Achilles suffered in the last game of 2019.

Who will rush the quarterback?

The Giants hold the exclusive rights to Markus Golden, who led them with 10 sacks last year, but he’s in no rush to sign that May 5 tender the team used to backdoor its upper hand. Even with Golden, the Giants don’t have a very imposing fleet of edge rushers to hassle opposing quarterbacks. They’re hoping young linebackers Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter can begin to fulfil the potential the team saw in them when they were drafted, and they’d like to have free-agent signing Kyler Fackrell return to his double-digit sack form of 2018.

Will DeAndre Baker play for the Giants this year?

The second-year cornerback is facing eight charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm from an incident in Florida in May, and while he maintains his innocence and controversy has swirled around the case, those charges still stand. The Giants told Baker to focus on his legal matters and not participate in the virtual offseason program, but with training camp starting they’ll have to decide what they want to do with him. He could land on the commissioner’s exempt list, putting him in limbo until the case is resolved. If Baker is unavailable, the Giants will have to use training camp to find a new starting cornerback. Sam Beal, Grant Haley, Julian Love and rookie Darnay Holmes may all get a shot at the audition.

What will the offense and defense look like?

Besides a new head coach in Joe Judge, the Giants have new coordinators on both offense (Jason Garrett) and defense (Patrick Graham). Judge wants both sides of the ball to be flexible and adaptable, so neither of them may have a true identity. Garrett’s scheme, brought from the Cowboys, figures to rely on running the ball and using a lot of tight end packages, which bodes well for Saquon Barkley and Evan Engram. Graham’s tendencies are a little more mysterious since he’s had just one season as a play-caller in Miami in 2019. With no preseason games in which to work out the wrinkles, the first time these new playbooks are used will be on the opening night of the season against the Steelers. Maybe we’ll have a better idea of the team’s play-calling personality by then. More likely, we won’t. And even if we do, it’ll probably change for Week 2.

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