Five takeaways from New York Giants training camp

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- This may be the most hype surrounding a Giants season since 2008, and for good reason. Odell Beckham Jr. is a transcendent talent that will draw eyes to the screen regardless of the team's record, and now he'll be surrounded by a promising cast of wide receivers.

The only problem, of course, is whether or not Eli Manning will have time to get them all the football.

The Giants' offensive line takes shots year after year, and in most cases end up playing well beyond initial expectations. But during Thursday's practice, injuries reduced their starting lineup to the following:

Pugh is a natural guard who played two solid years at tackle. He was moved to guard this summer but immediately shot back outside due to a rash of injuries. Geoff Schwartz, a versatile guard/tackle and one of the key signings from the team's 2014 free agency splurge, is still struggling with some lingering soreness. Left tackle Will Beatty is out until at least October. Then, 2014 second-round pick Weston Richburg, the presumptive starter at center, started getting bothered by some knee tendinitis. Erek Flowers, the 2015 first-round selection, has a hip flexor issue.

NFL Media's Shaun O'Hara summed it up well in one Tweet:

Pugh was well worth that first-round selection and is good enough to pick up the players around him. The Giants need him badly in 2015.

Some other training camp observations:

»I was thinking recently about the complete lack of quality starters across the NFL and the great lengths some teams go to find one. When backup diving, teams normally look at the system the quarterback is coming from and the pedigree he's had since entering the league, on top of any preseason film compiled over the years.

This made me wonder about the future of Ryan Nassib, a quarterback that was thought my some to be a top-15 pick during the 2013 NFL Draft. NFL Media Analyst Mike Mayock sang his praises several times, not to mention a flurry of anonymous talent evaluators, scouts and agents who didn't think there was any way he would make it out of the second round.

Though he did (he slipped into the fourth round) there must still be a lingering sentiment from some teams that he can start. Tom Coughlin has said as much. He progressed well in the preseason this past year (Five touchdowns, no picks, completion percentage near 60) and he's been schooled in Ben McAdoo's offense; a popular hybrid between the system in Green Bay and Andy Reid's offense in Kansas City.

But now, he's waiting behind Eli Manning, who is likely to earn an extension that will keep him in Blue close to his 40th birthday.

"I have high expectations for my career," Nassib told Around The NFL. "It's in the back of my mind right now but I'm just focused on training camp, getting ready. Getting ready for today's practice and getting ready for today's preseason."

He added: "I mean, I'm not sure what the future holds yet, I'll just make sure I'm ready for when my number gets called."

Nassib will be 26 when his deal comes up after the 2016 season. It might be something for quarterback-needy teams to think about.

»I cringed momentarily while watching Victor Cruz put a double move on a defensive back in practice given the particularly gruesome nature of his torn patellar tendon last year, but nothing happened. Nothing except for a great catch and run by Cruz who seems to be working his way back to full speed. If the Giants continue to be smart about his rehab -- they're in Year 3 of GPS technology, and Year 2 of a completely revamped diet, exercise and preventative care movement -- I could see him looking like the old Cruz sooner than expected.

» Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo could very well be a head coach in the NFL next year, especially if he handles the potentially dynamic combination of Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham, Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris and James Jones the right way. Thursday's practice yielded plenty of concepts that seem to focus on the same goal: Get Beckham in space. The Giants were resurrecting a few classic old pick plays on top of some new wave designs that actually have a Kevin Gilbride element to them. It's going to be vertical. I can't help but think that this offense will only go as far as Rueben Randle can take them, though. In the formations I saw Thursday he was out wide with Cruz and Beckham bunched in the slot. As a former second-round pick with tremendous size and speed, Randle should be able to dominante in single coverage. He took a major step forward last year, posting career totals of 127 targets,71 catches and 938 yards. Might he crack the 1,000-yard mark this year?

» The team's general manager, Jerry Reese, takes a lot of flak. It's something that inevitably accompanies the market, but even after two Super Bowls, his decisions are routinely questioned. One thing that is hard to fault him for, though, is the way he and his scouting department are able to find talented bargain basement players way off the football radar. Last year, he opted not to waste a pick on a tight end and proved his coaches could develop former Grambling quarterback Larry Donnell. Donnell finished the 2014 season with 654 yards on 60-plus catches. His six touchdowns were a nice bonus. This year, it looks like he'll strike again with a pair of undrafted free agents from Southern Connecticut State: Tight end Jerome Cunningham and defensive tackle Carlif Taylor. One is almost certainly a lock to make the roster in 2015 while the other, Taylor, is an intriguing prospect given his physical tools. A good team needs a scouting department who can find players like this.

» There's a definite difference in the way Manning presents himself this year. Though he wouldn't admit that last year's anemic preseason was worrying him -- there were starts where Manning didn't complete a single pass, and the starting offense struggled to put any points on the board -- there was a feeling that this was an offense he'd need to grow with. Now, he has the feel of a 2012 Manning, a far more relaxed quarterback that has mastered his offense. He's certainly playing like it. In the same vein, McAdoo has done a nice job incorporating some of the throws Manning is best at. This could easily be a top 10 offense this year if their offensive line holds up. Then again, that's a big if.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast features Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo sharing his thoughts on the upcoming season.

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