The Giants wrapped up an intriguing minicamp last week with a lot of crucial absences.
The foot injury to linebacker and defensive leader Jon Beason in earlier organized team activities meant new faces were tasked with trying to fill that role in what could be an audition for the start of the season. Beason is out for training camp — which begins for the Giants on July 27 — but hopes to be ready for Week 1. That is still something to be seen.
The team was also without a few key contributors on the offensive line. Left tackle Will Beatty continues to recover from a broken leg suffered in the regular season finale last year and guard Chris Snee is still working through elbow and hip surgeries this offseason.
The good news for the offense is that it got to work out with a fully healthy Eli Manning, who underwent ankle surgery and was expected to miss most of the offseason workouts. Instead he was a full go.
Metro breaks down who looked good last week and who might contribute as the team looks to rebound from a 7-9 season.
Stock up: Devon Kennard
The rookie linebacker out of USC was unquestionably the biggest benefactor from the Beason injury. The fifth-round pick went from likely special-teamer to possibly second on the depth chart in no time flat. If Beason is healthy Week 1, Kennard is not a contender to start, but it looks like he’ll contribute sooner rather than later. If veteran Jameel McClain, another winner from minicamp, slides over to middle linebacker to replace Beason, Kennard could fill his role on the outside.
Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell on Kennard: “Very smart. …When you have a young man that’s like that, and we have several young rookies like that, then you try to get them as many reps as you can.”
Stock up: Johnathan Hankins
Hankins was a big (literally) riser during the offseason. The 6-foot-2, 320-pound defensive tackle may step in immediately as starter to replace Linval Joseph, who signed with Minnesota this offseason. There was some confusion last year when Hankins was selected in the second round by the Giants. He didn’t do much to allay those concerns with a quiet rookie season. But Hankins received raves during minicamp and could lineup next to Cullen Jenkins on the inside to form a nice run-stuffing tandem.
Head coach Tom Coughlin on Hankins: “There’s knowledge of what we’re asking him to do, his ability to be in the right spot at the right time [and] his intelligence. All of those things are positive.”
Stock up: Adrien Robinson
Despite being on the roster for two seasons, you can be forgiven for not knowing Robinson. But he is the next in line to step up at tight end. Brandon Myers led Giants tight ends last season with 47 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns. Bear Pascoe, a hybrid fullback/tight end, was second with 12 catches. Myers left after one season to join the Buccaneers and Pascoe went to the Falcons. Robinson has a grand total of zero catches in three games since being drafted in the fourth round in 2012. Coaches are counting on him to step up and he looked good in minicamp running with the starters.
Tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride on Robinson: “He’s working incredibly hard to learn. …He’s in there, he’s taking copious notes, he’s answering questions very well. …He’s made strides, there’s no doubt that he’s made strides.”
Stock up: Rashad Jennings
The free-agent signee looked every bit a starter in his first week as a Giant. He played the role of a humble, team player — especially in deference to David Wilson — but it would be a shock if he didn’t start in Week 1. Jennings was always a backup in Oakland, but he’s ready to be starter. New York rushed for a miserable 83.3 yards per game last season with the now-departed Andre Brown the feature back. Things were so bad they had to bring Brandon Jacobs out of mothballs nine games into the season and he might’ve been their best back.
Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo on Jennings: “He’s someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for. He came in, he shows up and he’s ready to work every day.”
Stock down: David Wilson
Speaking of running backs, the news on Wilson has been disappointing all offseason. He claimed during OTAs he should be ready for minicamp after offseason neck surgery and a final check up. He went to the doctor for that final checkup and was told he would not be able to take part in contact drills until training camp. It’s certainly not Wilson’s fault that he got injured, but the Giants were clearly planning for his unavailability by signing Jennings and drafting Andre Williams. Not only has Jennings clearly jumped over him on the depth chart, but Wilson is falling behind in getting up to speed with McAdoo’s new offense.
Stock down: Ryan Nassib
The odd selection of Nassib in the fourth round last year continues to baffle. The Giants selected him for just the possibility of what happened this offseason — an Eli Manning injury. But Nassib wasn’t much needed with Manning back on the field relatively quickly. But what if Manning had missed all of the offseason? Well, the Giants clearly don’t think Nassib is ready to step in as a backup. Quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf had some positive words for him during minicamp, calling him “really smart.” But he also said Nassib has to “keep working on executing.” Execution is almost always a coaching buzzword for “he just needs to be better at everything.” Maybe he won’t matter — Manning has never missed a start after all — but Giants fans better hope so.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.