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New York Giants training camp: Champs never satisfied

NFL.com has dispatched several writers to report on the 32 training camps. Kimberly Jones details her visit with the New York Giants. (Click here for the complete archive of Training Camp Reports.)

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For the 16th time, the New York Giants' training camp home is the University at Albany. The length of the partnership speaks to a strong relationship. A drawback: Albany doesn't have an indoor football practice facility. During Wednesday's thunderstorms, the team finished practice with a walk-through on a basketball court, which wasn't exactly to coach Tom Coughlin's liking.

OBSERVATION DECK

1. The book on Eli. Coming off the best statistical season of his career and his second Super Bowl MVP, Eli Manning believes he can improve. Better decision making, eliminating turnovers and improved accuracy top his list. General manager Jerry Reese said the willingness to publicly challenge himself is one reason "we love Eli."

2. Who's down with JPP? Scary: Jason Pierre-Paul believes he reached only 50 percent of his potential while recording 16.5 sacks last year. Scarier: Giants personnel say he's correct. "You don't try to coach him too much," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said, "because you don't want to screw him up."

3. Injury bug still bites. For the second consecutive year, Terrell Thomas has injured his right ACL. (As of publishing, the Giants didn't know the full extent of the injury.) Prince Amukamara, whose 2011 rookie season started with a broken foot, is now expected to start. Amukamara said he takes it "as encouragement" that Reese says he needs to play like the first-round draft pick he is.

4. Victor Cruz is no diva. After a franchise record-setting season and countless salsas, Cruz continues to impress the Giants with his blue-collar approach. Practicing hard? "It's the only way he knows," Coughlin said.

5. Tweaks, from the top. Giants players express general amusement about the attention-getting New York Jets and had little to say in response to Jerry Jones' recent prediction that his Dallas Cowboys would kick the Giants', um, butt. Leave it to co-owner John Mara to deliver the goods. When reporters asked Wednesday about a Band-Aid on his forehead, Mara deadpanned, "You should see what Jerry Jones looks like." Mara also suggested he was so wrapped up in media coverage of Tim Tebow that he wasn't entirely sure what Jones had said.


The coaches of the NFL weigh in on a number of hot-button topics in the league, including Andrew Luck vs. RG3, Tim Tebow, challenge flag etiquette, the Packers' QB tree and the 2012 Hall of Fame class.

THE NEW GUYS

David Wilson: "Explosive" is the most common word used to describe the first-round draft pick. He has great feet, is fast and should team with Ahmad Bradshaw to give the Giants more burst out of the backfield. (There's nowhere to go but up for the 32nd-ranked rushing attack.) In fact, a concern for the Giants about Wilson is that he'll have to perfect his timing and employ patience to allow his blockers to work for him.

Shaun Rogers: The Giants believe Rogers, signed in April, can still play. They'd gladly take 20 snaps per game.

Martellus Bennett: The former Cowboy already has had his ups (ballooning up to 291 pounds in the offseason) and downs (a balky hamstring) as a Giant, but Coughlin has lauded his blocking and catching early in camp. If nothing else, Bennett's a great quote. Bennett has described himself as "a black unicorn," which somehow is supposed to illustrate that he's in the best shape of his life.

OVERHEARD

"It remains to be seen as to how good we can be. I think we can be strong, and we can be good again. But you have to do it. You can't talk about it, you have to go out there and do it. That's what's important to us."
-- Reese

EXTRA POINTS

1. As fierce as the Giants' defensive line has been, consider this: Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck have yet to play together at full strength. Saying he's healthy for the first time in six years, Umenyiora is back to practicing at 100 miles per hour; he tweeted post-practice Wednesday that he lost 11 pounds in the Albany heat and soup-like humidity.

2. In his third season, defensive tackle Linval Joseph has impressed coaches, who think he's in for a big year.

3. While Thomas is sidelined -- which will be a significant amount of time, if not the season -- safety Antrel Rolle shifts back to the nickelback role. He did so with hesitation in 2011. This time, he told coaches: I'll play wherever you need me.

4. As Hakeem Nicks (broken foot) projects to return mid-August, receiver Domenik Hixon is having an impressive camp. Hixon has torn his right ACL in each of the last two years, but says he's 100 percent. Evidence: the running, leaping catch he made to end Thursday's practice. Said Coughlin: "He has no fear."

OUTLOOK

A Super Bowl repeat is not out of the question, but the Giants will tell you it takes luck just to get there. As usual, they'll depend on their ferocious, play-making pass rush to cover other defensive deficiencies. Offensively, they'll lean on Manning to lead a still-green receiving corps and look to get out of the NFL cellar in the run game. The Giants are built to make the playoffs. After that? Even they wouldn't pretend to know.

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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