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Giant Questions Start Right Up Front

New start for a Giants team still tasting their sour finish



    Giant Questions Start Right Up Front
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    Big Blue is coming in under the radar

    The Giants have had a quieter offseason than the guys who share the new stadium that debuts in East Rutherford on Monday night. With a few exceptions, they are more than happy to go about their work in the shadows and cede the spotlight to the talkative men in green.

    The Giants also had a quieter January than those chatty fellows, something that doesn't sit quite as well in the bellies of Big Blue because it hasn't happened all that often in the history of civilization.

    To make sure that doesn't wind up happening again, the Giants don't have to beat the Jets on Monday night. One look at the lengthy Giants injury list -- Steve Smith, Chris Snee, Rich Seubert, Kevin Boss and Keith Bulluck are just a few big names in street clothes -- tells you that this game isn't going to be about winning or losing for the Giants. It's going to be about developing the players and schemes they need to be successful when the games start counting and when they are hopefully playing with a full deck.

    With that in mind, here are several areas to watch during the preseason opener. 

    William Beatty: The Giants haven't settled on an exact configuration for their offensive line just yet but the injury to Seubert means they'll look at one option on the left side. David Diehl will slide inside to guard while Beatty, a second-year man, starts at left tackle. The pressure-obsessed Jets defense should give him a good workout. If Beatty can hold firm, this alignment might become permanent because Diehl has struggled with speedy pass rushers in the past. It would also inject some needed youth to the Giants on the offensive line. 

    Defensive line: Don't expect to see some of the exotic personnel groupings that the Giants have been toying with during training camp on Monday night. They don't want to reveal too much to other teams and still need to focus on basic things like stopping the run before they can get too dreamy with their defensive approach. Once that is in place, you can worry about formations and player rotations. Neither matters if the line can't get the job done again in 2010. 

    Michael Boley: The Giants got zero return on their investment in Boley during the 2009 season so it would be nice for them to get something back from him this season. There's more than just Jerry Reese's reputation as a talent evaluator on the line, though. The Giants need more plays from their linebackers if the defensive revival is going to be successful and Boley is the one guy who profiles as a playmaker. Seeing some signs of that on Monday would be quite encouraging. 

    Injuries: We've already mentioned the long list of players that are out but the Giants also have to deal with all kinds of lingering aches and pains (Osi Umenyiora) and the enhanced risk involved with playing preseason games without a deep bench. Most worrisome would be Eli Manning's health because the Giants don't have a real backup and because they are facing an aggressive defense with a makeshift offensive line.

    Special Teams: The Giants lost Jeff Feagles to retirement and Domenik Hixon to a torn ACL, which means they've got big holes to fill at punter and kick returner. Matt Dodge is the only punter in camp and he's been inconsistent to this point. The Giants benefited royally from Feagles's ability to pin the opposition deep on a weekly basis and they can't afford to lose the field position battle so Dodge has much to prove. There will be a bunch of different guys trying their hands at kick returns and the Giants have to hope someone gives them a threat in that facet of the game before camp is out.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for You can follow him on Twitter.