The New York Giants are set to report to training camp this Thursday. Training camp marks the beginning of the 2016 NFL season; one that will be pivotal for rookie head coach Ben McAdoo. Coach McAdoo has inherited a very talented Giants’ roster that brings with it high expectations. McAdoo will have the opportunity to make some key judgment calls that could have serious implications for the Giants’ success this year. Here are three training camp battles that fans should keep an eye on.
Victor Cruz vs. Sterling Shepard
While some analysts may not call this an actual battle, Cruz and Sterling will duke it out this offseason. Victor Cruz’s ability to perform at a high level still remains a mystery. Cruz is going to need time to ease back into the grind of football. In that time frame, it’s possible that Sterling Shepard may steal the spotlight away from him. Shepard and Cruz will fight to see who becomes the New York Giants’ number two option at receiver.
It is important that whomever plays alongside the number one option, Odell Beckham, is able to make plays. Defenses will look to double cover Beckham, leaving the second option at receiver an important part of the offense. Cruz’s injury was so severe that some players never come back from similar damage. The biggest concern surrounding Victor Cruz is his speed. Unfortunately for Cruz, Shepard’s speed is off the charts. The winner of the battle will likely be determined on the field during the first few preseason games. As of right now, Cruz has the advantage over Shepard if he remains healthy. Ben McAdoo will not choose to throw a struggling rookie on the field over a seasoned veteran.
Larry Donnell vs. Will Tye
Tight end was one unit of the New York Giants’ offense that has been an area of concern over the years. Will Tye, the only Stony Brook University player to ever make an NFL roster, burst onto the scene last season. Tye lifted those concerns almost instantly by filling in for Larry Donnell quite nicely. When called upon, Tye served as a very reliable option for quarterback Eli Manning. Tye scored three touchdowns and caught 42 receptions for 464 yards last season.
Tye will battle fellow undrafted free agent, Larry Donnell, to see who will be the number one tight end on the depth chart. Donnell caught 63 receptions for 623 yards and scored six touchdowns in 2014. He was poised to put up similar statistics in 2015, but suffered a major neck injury that ended his season. Donnell will be looking to get back on track in 2016, but has a few obstacles in his way. He does have the edge, due to his amount of experience with the team. However, Tye’s highlight reel is just too good to ignore.
Andre Williams vs. Paul Perkins
This battle definitely ranks as one of the most important of the offseason. The New York Giants’ haven’t had a solid starting running backs since Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were members of the team. The clear-cut starter is probably going to be Rashad Jennings unless he sustains an injury. Andre Williams and Paul Perkins will battle to back up the Giants’ number one rusher.
Perkins has a slight advantage over Williams, who had multiple opportunities to carve out a starting role. In the wake of an injury to Jennings, Williams didn’t make much of the time that was given to him. Even though Perkins is a fifth-round pick, he was highly regarded as a “steal” to be picked up that late in the draft. Bradshaw was drafted by the New York Giants in the seventh round, so no credibility should be taken away from Perkins just yet.
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