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Giants camp report: Status of 'Player No. 72' hangs over team

Bill Kostroun / Associated Press
 Osi Umenyiora has been at Giants camp, but has yet to participate in workouts with his teammates.

Steve Wyche recently visited Giants camp in East Rutherford, N.J. Here's what he saw.

Umenyiora still not practicing
The defensive end, who wants to be traded or have his contract re-worked to provide more guaranteed money, continues to not take part in practice.

Umenyiora claims to be suffering from knee discomfort and, as has been the case, spent portions of practice riding a stationary bike on the sideline.

-- Steve Wyche

Observation deck

1. The drama surrounding Osi Umenyiora is the under- and over-current that the Giants aren't ignoring, but are doing their best to avoid turning into an Albert Haynesworth-like distraction. There is a feeling that the impasse could end soon, with a compromise involving the team offering opportunities for Umenyiora to earn more money through incentives, some of which could be easily achieved but several performance-based escalators could be involved. A team official said the Giants will not void the second and final year of Umenyiora's contract.

Defensive end Justin Tuck explained how he and other players are coping with the situation, joking that he is no longer allowed to talk about "Player No. 72."

"By concentrating on what you think you can control as player," Tuck said. "All I can control is what my actions are. I can't worry about what somebody else is doing. I can give my opinion on it but at end of the day, I still have to go out and perform."

2. The loss of tight end Kevin Boss in free agency to the Raiders is being viewed with far less panic within the organization than it is by the public. The Giants liked Boss and tried hard to retain him, but his limitations as a blocker and as a mid-range receiving threat were at times, counterproductive. The issue is how he will be replaced. Travis Beckum, who is more of a flex tight end in the mold of Dallas Clark and Dustin Keller, is penciled in as the starter. Although Beckum is the best receiving threat of any in-house option, a team official said he's also a solid blocker. Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe also are in the mix, but more as blocking threats. How the tight ends will be used is being worked out.

3. Last year's first-round draft pick, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, is being groomed for a heavy workload, which probably would have been the case regardless of what's going on with Umenyiora. Pierre-Paul recently weighed in at 284 pounds -- he came into the league around 270 -- and has made himself more than just a pass rusher, a team source said. There is a big buzz within the organization about Pierre-Paul, who Tom Coughlin described as "a very physical presence and he's very quick off the ball."

4. Though Coughlin was hardly ready to declare Pierre-Paul ready for greatness, a sign that the team is committed to giving him more snaps is the move of veteran Mathias Kiwanuka to outside linebacker. Don't get caught in the schematics of the move, though. Kiwanuka is going to be more of a hybrid OLB/DE -- the "Elephant" position in the system. He'll play with his hand on the ground and from a two-point stance depending on the situation. He might not be the only player used in kind of an amoeba role, either. "You'll never know how we're going to lineup and attack," Kiwanuka suggested. 

New guys to watch

First-round draft pick Prince Amukamara signed and arrived a few days into camp, and then suffered a broken foot on his second day of practice. With that injury, his impact will be minimal at best. With that setback look for veteran Aaron Ross to now be an intregal part of the nickel package, where Amukamara was initially envisioned to play, alongside Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas.

There is a lot of optimism surrounding defensive tackle Marvin Austin. The rookie second-round pick was suspended all of last season, so he's just getting back into the swing of things, but told me, "It's just like riding a bike." Austin has already shown the Giants' brass that he's a gap-penetrating force who'll play both tackle spots. He plays too high at times, a team source said, but he's learning quickly that if he doesn't play with a lower pad level, he'll get washed out.

Two potential sleepers: Quarterback Ryan Perrilloux and running back Da'Rel Scott. The star-crossed Perrilloux played in the UFL in 2010 after going undrafted following a promising career at LSU and Jacksonville State that turned sour after he was indefinitely suspended for repeated transgressions. Perrilloux has had a strong enough camp already to where he's turned a lot of heads and will get plenty of looks in the preseason. Scott has already thrown himself into the tight battle with D.J. Ware and Andre Brown for the No. 3 job. Scott, a seventh-round pick from Maryland, has shown good speed and explosiveness.

Overheard

Safety Kenny Phillips, whose promising career was sidetracked by a knee injury two seasons ago, is back to looking like his old self. A team source said that Phillips has looked very good early in camp and could be a major factor once the season is under way.

Prediction

The Giants won 10 games last season, but faded at crunch time. It wasn't the first time that has happened, but if they can stay healthy they should be in the running for the NFC East title. Nobody is talking about the Giants right now and some things seem unsettled, which is exactly how they prefer it. They've improved, albeit quietly, their defense -- especially up front. Quarterback Eli Manning won't be a turnover machine, either.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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