Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.
â¢ The concept of a No. 1 and No. 2 receiver has become outdated. More and more teams are fielding three and four wideouts against defenses. The New York Giants are no exception. The team is deep with pass-catchers but might be without injured starter Hakeem Nicks (foot) until the season opener.
â¢ With Mario Manningham fleeing to the San Francisco 49ers, Randle, Jernigan, Hixon and Barden are fighting for the so-called No. 3 spot behind Nicks and slot sensation Victor Cruz. Until Nicks returns, the No. 2 role also needs a stand-in. The dress rehearsal is over for this group.
â¢ Ramses Barden told the New York Daily News last month, "I'm here to be the man." Maybe so (and he looks the part at 6-foot-6, 224 pounds), but Barden has caught 15 balls in three seasons and hasn't proven he can win matchups. The same can be said for Jernigan, who stuck to special teams last season.
â¢ When Nicks went down in May, Hixon was inserted into the lineup opposite Cruz during practices, which is no surprise. He's unspectacular, but has appeared in 48 games (10 starts) with the Giants and understands the system. There's built-in chemistry with Eli Manning (at least a dash of it), which doesn't apply to the rest of this bunch.
â¢ The Giants don't hand out starting roles, but Randle was drafted to play. It's going to take time. Rookie wideouts typically struggle, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said in June, "There is so much thinking going on. You can see it slows him down."
Projected winner: Tale of two players: The Giants will lean on Hixon early, but we expect Randle to take snaps away as the season progresses.