The New York Giants, like the rest of the NFL, have missed out on a lot during this offseason due to facilities around the league being shut down for the spring due to COVID-19. However, it increasingly looks like training camp is going to happen as usual, starting in late July – even if the preseason is likely to be shortened to a couple of weeks thanks to awkward scheduling.
When the players do hit the field once again though, to work out together for the first time during 2020, which players are the ones worth keeping an eye on? Here’s three players to pay attention to, for both positive and negative reasons.
OLB Lorenzo Carter
The Giants are waiting on Lorenzo Carter. And they have been waiting on Lorenzo Carter. Carter was drafted in 2018 but after a pair of seasons where the outside linebacker performed somewhat under the expectation in tackles and sacks, many are wondering if Carter is even the right player for the spot.
Carter has increased competition this season after the Giants signed Kyler Fackrell at the same position specifically to help with the pass rush. The team also brings back Oshane Ximines, and if the Giants manage to bring back sack leader Markus Golden despite Golden’s free agency dragging on all the way into late June, Carter will have to deal with an even more crowded outside linebacker position with multiple other players who have statistically performed better than him.
It’s a make or break season for Carter despite being one of the regulars in the linebacker group during 2019. If his training camp performance is poor, those starts at OLB may not be so regular and Carter may find himself with a lesser percentage of the team’s snaps compared to others.
CB DeAndre Baker
So far, it looks like DeAndre Baker has a good shot to beat his legal case and return to football after multiple witnesses have claimed that he isn’t guilty of the crime he’s been accused of.
But Baker hitting the field again doesn’t necessarily mean all of his troubles will go away instantly. Baker’s missed time with the team during this offseason already because of his legal trouble, and while the Giants have been limited to a virtual program just like the rest of the league, the time spent still counts for something.
It’s an advantage for Baker’s rivals such as Sam Beal, who have a chance to move up and position themselves as the number two corner next to James Bradberry if they can outperform Baker early on, starting with camp.
After all, even if Baker is back in the game physically, there’s no telling if his head will be in the game immediately after a stressful legal situation.
OLB Kyler Fackrell
Another player on the defense and specifically the defensive line, Kyler Fackrell is another important name to keep an eye on not just for camp but for the entire season.
That’s because the Giants seem unlikely to come to a deal with Markus Golden, and they’re relying on him to fill the gap that Golden leaves in their team. The Giants haven’t been good in the sacks department for a long time now and Golden was their one saving grace in that area. If he’s gone, someone else is going to have to fill in for the production if the Giants don’t want to stay where they are or decline further in that area.
Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018 but only had 1.5 last season. He was supplanted by others, playing in 16 games for Green Bay but starting none of them. It’s a concerning performance and the Giants will need Fackrell to bounce back to have a good pass rush this season.
All of that starts in camp. It’s worth paying attention to reports about how Fackrell has done once training camp begins.