Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Top 5 Breakout Stars for the 2009 New York Giants

The Giants report for camp in Albany today, marking the beginning of the 2009 campaign. With several key departures, arrivals and returns, there are opportunities to be seized and improvements to be made. This week, Giants’ Steps looks at the five players ready to make that next step, not only to become a core contributor to their team, but to make a splash league-wide with the quality and impact of their play.

I present to you my top five “breakout” stars for the 2009 New York Giants…

#5) Terrell Thomas – Last year’s second round draft pick, Thomas proved down the stretch last season that he could play ball in the NFL. Overcoming injuries early in the season, Thomas notched up 45 tackles through 12 games, forced a fumble and picked off his first career interception.

In a unit filled with unheralded young stars (Corey Webster led the league in passes defensed last year and no one knows who he is), Thomas, entering his sophomore season, is expected to take on a larger role in the defense, and might even challenge Aaron Ross for the starting job opposite Webster. If his weekly improvement last season is any indication, receivers will have plenty to contend with when they line up against the former USC Trojan in 2009.

#4) Kevin Boss – Much like the Giants secondary, third-year TE Kevin Boss quietly had a great year last season. Taking over for the departed Jeremy Shockey, Boss managed to tie to the once-iconic Giants' Tight End’s career high for touchdowns in a season with six. He also evolved into a critical component of the Giants’ dominant rushing attack. (Click here for story)

Entering 2009, Boss’s game will continue to evolve under world-class position coach Mike Pope. His veteran status among a crop of otherwise young and inexperienced receivers, and his 6’5” frame, should make the young tight end a reliable target for QB Eli Manning and a dangerous red zone threat for opposing defenses.

#3) Ahmad Bradshaw – Boss’s draft class-mate, Ahmad Bradshaw, saw limited action last season as the third leg of the funk-alicious running back trio known as “Earth, Wind and Fire.” But with Derrick Ward’s departure in free agency, Bradshaw is poised to assume the #2 role and see significantly more playing time in 2009.

Competition will be fierce in training camp for the #2 spot, but Bradshaw’s senior status over fellow running backs Danny Ware and Andre Brown, and his impressive performance in the #2 role during the 2008 Super Bowl run, should give him the advantage. His presence on the field gives the Giants a slashing, cutting running back with the quickness and home run-hitting ability to reach the end zone from any distance.

#2) Chris Canty – The biggest of the Giants free agent acquisitions this offseason, literally and figuratively, the former Dallas Cowboy joins a defensive line that, early on, looks like the class in the NFL. With Pro Bowl DE’s Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck on either side, a rich rotation of starter-quality DTs to keep the pass rush fresh, and defensive Renaissance man Matthias Kiwanuka in the mix, Canty has the physical tools to emerge as a star in the unit.

His size makes him a lot to handle for two offensive linemen – a situation he was accustomed to as a 3-4 DE in Dallas. At DT in a 4-3 scheme, with Osi and Tuck each demanding double teams, Canty will be looking at a lot of one-on-one opportunities in 2009. His 6’7” frame and huge wingspan will most certainly affect quarterbacks mentally, if not physically knock a few balls down. The fun part though will be finding out how many quarterbacks he can swat to the ground.

#1) Kenny Phillips – Last but not least, the Giants first round draft pick from a year ago, stands poised to take the league by storm. After an impressive showing as a back-up his rookie year, KP assumes the starting role this year following the departure of James Butler.

"The Human Missile Crisis" - Catchy right?

From his early displays in camp to his strong performances on the field, Phillips showed last year he can do it all. He is a superb tackler and play-maker at the line of scrimmage; he has speed, fluidity and range to make plays in the open field; and he is a ball-hawk who can hit like a scud missile. I firmly believe that Phillips – "The Human Missile Crisis,” as I am tempted to call him (you heard that here first)—will be regarded as one of the premier safeties in the NFC in 2009, and mentioned in the same conversations as the Ed Reeds and Troy Polamalus of the league.
Camp is here! 2009 season here we come!

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RG-6 said...

Reading this got me all pumped up!! How long do we have to wait to see a game?!?

Charlie said...

Now this is what I'm talking about...truly a team that is built to excite...cant wait for sundays. NY-tristate be proud...its the NY GAINTS!!!!

buljos said...

These are as good a 5 as any. Can't argue too much. I would offer however that if Sinorice Moss can stay healthy, he may be the biggest single turn around... I almost said the Come Back Kid, but he was never there to come back... of anybody on the team. He's the quickest WR on the squad, as DBs have learned in camp already. Eli said he has to pick up the pace of his reads or else he sees Moss 60 yards down field. They threw 12 balls his way last season, and he caught all 12. His only knock is staying healthy. If he can, watch out!

Will B said...

Yeah, teammates are always raving about Moss. Personally, I thought he was under-utilized last year. If he can cement a spot as a top 3 WR on the team, he could have a nice season for us.