By Paul Dottino
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Question him all you like. Giants GM Jerry Reese is not one to blink.

What of the mass exodus of starters from last year’s team? It’s okay. Thank you for your concern, he says.

What about the lack of big-name imports going into this season? Don’t worry about it, not part of the game plan.

He must be concerned about the popular consensus that his team has taken a step backward, right? Irrelevant.

Reese is preaching patience and confidence in a carefully constructed blueprint that he says will put the Giants in the playoff hunt this season.

But the most troubling omission in his State of the Giants address to the media on Thursday may be how to deal with the unexpected departures of free agents Steve Smith (Eagles) and Kevin Boss (Raiders). The game plan included re-signing both players to “reasonable contracts,” partly because the team’s salary-cap situation made it very difficult to chase them up the financial ladder.

In fact, the Giants still might attempt to re-work Osi Umenyiora’s deal, so their projected season-opening cap number remains a difficult ball to handle. We know Reese reworked the contracts of Brandon Jacobs, Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster (and maybe others) at the very least as a means of retaining Ahmad Bradshaw and signing 49ers center David Baas (who is expected to anchor the O-line for the foreseeable future).

Reese’s response, frustrating as it is to most fans, is to ask his players to increase their production to an appropriate level so the team can overcome the key losses.

Risky? You bet, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Are you still asking why the Giants didn’t sign any big-ticket players? Before you go any further, think about which of the players on the roster you could have done without because paying additional “name” players would have required Reese to either trim and/or release salary from another spot on the team.

The bottom line is the Giants really don’t have much of a choice other than to follow the blue print, unless an unexpected receiver or tight end of significant quality finds himself on the waiver wire over the next month. Surely, Reese will be watching those daily transactions with more than casual interest. Perhaps he will find a late nugget – or maybe not – but don’t expect him to lose any sleep because worrying is not a part of his game plan.

OSI SAGA: Osi Umenyiora, who remains disenchanted with his contract, got a positive report on his injured knee from a specialist in Atlanta and is expected to practice on Monday. Coach Tom Coughlin already has stated he will manage the lineman’s schedule throughout the season in order to maximize his effectiveness on game day.


* Coughlin said he may give his first-stringers – depending on their medical status – as many as 18 snaps. These will be very important plays for the revamped offensive line – left to right – of Will Beatty, David Diehl, Baas, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie. How well do they work together? Are their mistakes more of a mental, physical or communication variety? Or are they flawless?

* Which receiver gains an edge on the No. 3 spot – veteran Domenik Hixon appears to go into the game with an edge – but Victor Cruz, Devin Thomas, Darius Reynaud and Jerrell Jernigan are among those who may provide competition.

* What kind of production do the Giants get out of their tight ends, beginning with Bear Pascoe, who’s expected to play many more snaps at the position after spending much of last season in a fullback/H-back mode. Second-year pro Jake Ballard, a blocker with minimal experience in the passing game, has been lining up as the second tight end in practice. The duo will have plenty of chances to show their stuff since pseudo-receiver Travis Beckum is fighting a hamstring injury.

Follow Paul’s updates from Big Blue training camp @GiantsWFAN

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