‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
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Minicamps ended in June. Training camps beckon at the end of this month.
Before the Jets and Giants report to their respective summer training bases in Cortland and Albany, their rosters will finish their respite from football, presumably recharging for the long haul. And no more important aspects of each team needs the extra energy and focus than the ground games.
In that, the Giants appear positioned to head into camp in decent shape despite the free agent disposal of the moody but bulky new 49er, Brandon Jacobs. With returning backs Ahmad Bradshaw, DJ Ware, Da’Rel Scott, and first-round pick David Wilson, they do have talent. And the most interesting of that is Wilson if one goes by the performance of players running around in jerseys, shorts, helmets, and the very little else allowed under offseason workout rules.
The Jets have pretty much remained the same, unless you count the addition of Tim Tebow, which you should. When he’s not uniting the world with his very special brand of religion or serving as the starting quarterback-in-waiting until Mark Sanchez plunges downhill, he’ll be taking direct handoffs in offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s gimmicks. And yes, the Wildcat is a gimmick, albeit a widespread one.
Still, Tebow will be a key running game addition, especially since the Jets can’t really count on Shonn Greene staying healthy for a season or Joe McKnight eradicating his fumble problems. In the long run, Tebow could be Sparano’s best bet to turn the Jets’ sagging running game of last year back into one that defenses at least have to account for, if not fear outright.
Also in the mix will be Terrance Ganaway, a sixth-round comp pick who set Baylor’s single-season rushing and touchdown records with help from the guy the Jets took right after him, Robert T. Griffin. At 335 pounds, Griffin should in no way be confused with Robert Griffin III, the Redskins great rookie hope at quarterback. Ganaway should get a chance to compete with McKnight for the backup spot.
But it was the Jets’ neighbor down the MetLife hallway that generated the most buzz at running back. Wilson, the first-round pick out of Virginia Tech, exhibited an explosiveness and speed that set Tom Coughlin’s offensive staff’s hearts a-flutter.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride praised Wilson for his burst. And the 5-10, 201-pound Wilson was indeed visually impressive during minicamp.
All that comes secondary to the book learning, however. At camp, Wilson will inundated with blocking assignments. His mastery of them, not his speed, will determine how much playing time he gets.
Coughlin isn’t about to lose a quarterback because a rookie running back, even one with Wilson’s gifts, missed a blitz pickup.
Rex Ryan and Coughlin are both anxious to see their backfields, for two entirely different reasons. Ryan wants to get back to the ground game as the primary source of offense. Coughlin has always thought of the ground game as a vital part of his offense, despite the Eli Manning-led passing game providing evidence to the contrary.
The training camp battles for both teams won’t involve the starters, as it is pretty much accepted that Bradshaw and Greene will take the main rushing roles barring injuries. But the potential changes in the pecking orders behind them could affect the overall potency of both units.
So both staffs are hoping to see a rested, educated group walk into upstate New York ready to hit the ground running — in a most literal sense.
Will this be the year of the rusher in NY? Be heard in the comments below…