Camp preview: Wide receivers
July, 17, 2013
By Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPNNewYork.com
As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.
Position: Wide receiver.
Projected starters: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz.
Projected reserves: Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden.
Jim O'Conno/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning and the Giants will have reason to smile if Hakeem Nicks is healthy in 2013.
New faces: Murphy, Brandon Collins, Jeremy Horne, Kris Adams, Kevin Hardy, Keith Carlos.
The departed: Domenik Hixon.
Player to watch: How important is Nicks? Though their defensive struggles were a major factor in the Giants' disappointing 2012, a healthy Nicks could've been the difference between the Giants winning 10 games and making the playoffs and winning nine games and missing the postseason. Nicks, who missed three games and struggled with foot and knee injuries, opens things up for Cruz and will be highly motivated to excel in a contract year. If Nicks is healthy again, the Giants and Eli Manning should be running on all cylinders.
Potential strength: The Giants could potentially be as deep as they have been at wide receiver in some time. Nicks and Cruz make up one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride raved about Randle's progress during OTAs and minicamp. On top of that, the Giants believe Murphy has the type of speed to give them an over-the-top threat that could make an already dangerous passing attack even more potent. During OTAs, the Giants worked on the long ball with Murphy while Cruz and Nicks skipped the voluntary workouts. They are also hoping Jernigan can provide another speedy option from time to time.
Potential weakness: Health is always a concern with the Giants. But when one receiver goes down, Manning usually makes things work with the next receiver in line. One potential weakness is experience. Super Bowl champions Nicks and Cruz have caught big-time passes on the biggest stage there is. But outside of that duo, the Giants don't have a ton of experience at receiver. Randle had just 19 catches during his rookie season. Murphy has started a total of six games in the last two seasons. Jernigan and Barden have limited experience as well, although Barden delivered in a start against Carolina last year.
Wild card: Randle showed in the season finale against Philadelphia last year that the Giants could have another potent receiving trio, like the one they had with Nicks, Cruz and Mario Manningham. The last time Manning had that at his disposal, he won his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.
Tell us what you think of the Giants' receivers entering camp.