By Ernie Palladino
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Fair warning. We’re not going to talk about the intrigue surrounding the Biogenesis investigation or the financial stiff arm Anthony Bosch allegedly tried to put on Alex Rodriguez before he agreed to squeal to Major League Baseball.
We’re not going to talk about the Mets’ woes or the Yankees’ resurgence, or the Jets’ idea that they might name a starting quarterback by the first practice of training camp — a scheme that looks like just another organizational failure right now.
No, this one is going to be boring. This one is about the Giants, which means minimal drama and maximum work even during the offseason program. Unlike the Jets, who inevitably win the offseason public relations Super Bowl every year, the Giants typically go about their business with the same flash that pervades Eli Manning’s weekday interviews.
That is to say, BO-R-R-R-I-N-G!
It’s not as if the Giants don’t have issues. There’s this Jason Pierre-Paul thing for starters. He’s had back problems since the season, which saw his sack production slide from 16.5 in 2011 to 6.5 in 2012. Nobody can say for sure if the herniated disk was the sole cause for the dropoff, but it certainly didn’t help.
The question surrounding him now involves why he didn’t go for surgery immediately. Having it now will certainly cost him all of training camp, since the operation has a 12-week minimum recovery period. That would put him back in time for the Sept. 8 opener in Dallas if all goes exactly right.
But backs are a tricky thing. A little setback during rehab, a twinge here or there, and everything gets pushed back, and suddenly Pierre-Paul has missed a significant portion of the season. It’s a legitimate worry, especially now that Jerry Reese allowed Osi Umenyiora to fly off to Atlanta.
The fact that Justin Tuck is coming off a subpar season shouldn’t create a lot of worry. He’s the type that will push himself to come back strong. And Pierre-Paul’s spot can be filled, as it was during Thursday’s OTA, by Mathias Kiwanuka. Look for the linebacker to move back to his natural defensive end spot permanently, or at least until Pierre-Paul returns.
The troubling part is that he’s had this condition for a while. If the operation will indeed “cure” it, why did he spend all this time trying to “manage” the issue? Chronic problems don’t just go away. Sounds like he should have had the operation right after the season.
Now, the Giants are left with a shallow talent pool up front. They‘ll hold their breath and hope Pierre-Paul comes back stronger than ever. But that’s never a guarantee with back problems.
Then there’s the Victor Cruz-Hakeem Nicks saga. We all know why Cruz isn’t participating in the offseason workouts. He’s looking for a long-term, big bucks contract in the neighborhood of $10 million per year, while the Giants want to play in the $8 million or so part of town. So the unsigned Cruz has made himself scarce. Par for the course.
Nicks, on the other hand, has caused Tom Coughlin no small amount of consternation. He told Coughlin he’d attend the voluntary workouts. He hasn’t shown up. That’s his right, as all these workouts save for next week’s mandatory minicamp are voluntary for players under contract. Still, Nicks has offered no reason for his absence, though his agent denies it involves his desire for a lucrative extension.
So the Giants are doing all this work without their two top receivers. Sure, you can say the Jets are in the same boat, and probably worse since Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill are all out. But they have excuses. They’re injured. And Holmes may not even be ready for the start of training camp.
Assuming Nicks’ balky knee and foot have healed now, two main, healthy receivers have willingly absented themselves from valuable time with their quarterback.
The use of Andre Brown and David Wilson together in a Red Zone package Thursday added an interesting wrinkle to their battle for a starting job, but that is mundane stuff compared to Pierre-Paul and the two receivers.
Maybe things aren’t so boring around the Giants after all.
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