When the Giants lost several key players last summer at the start of training camp, Jerry Reese told everyone that several unproven players could step up and shine.
Victor Cruz, Jake Ballard and Kevin Boothe were among those who proved Reese right.
So when the Giants general manager speaks highly of some more unproven players currently on his roster, it's probably best to believe Reese given his track record.
In a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Reese talked about the upcoming offseason, having to deal with players wanting a raise, keeping the core of the Super Bowl champs together and young unproven players on the roster.
On the Giants needing a tight end: Ballard and Travis Beckum suffered torn ACLs in the Super Bowl. Reese says that means more of an opportunity for two tight ends on the roster -- Bear Pascoe and Christian Hopkins.
"We’ll just see how they are health-wise after the surgeries and see how quickly they can get back. I’m not a doctor, but from perspective, right now they’re both probably guys that will end up on PUP at the beginning of the season and see how healthy they are and how quickly they can recover from these injuries that they have. Obviously Bear Pascoe is kind of like a joker on offense for us too. We talk about [Mathias Kiwanuka] being a joker on defense, Bear plays tight end, he plays H-back, he can play fullback. He can do a little bit of everything."
"Christian Hopkins is a big kid that we like – practices hard every day – that our coaches like and think he has some potential to come in and compete for a job as well. He’s a big kid. He’s at least 6-5, about 275 pounds and he works hard every day at practice. He’s endeared himself to our coaches with how hard he works and he has soft hands, catches the ball nice. He’ll be a guy. And obviously we’ll look in free agency and we’ll look in the draft for positions that we think we may have some holes right now."
On trying to avoid another Osi situation: Reese was asked if there is a way to not go through another Osi Umenyiora contract saga this offseason.
"We’re in the early stages of the evaluation. Osi is under contract, but we’ll discuss everything as a staff and we’ll discuss all issues that could possibly come up for us. We’ll come up with a game plan and we’ll move on day-to-day and see how things work out for us."
On trying to keep the Super chemistry intact: The Giants have 21 unrestricted free agents and a few restricted free agents. Reese says the core of the team will return but also says there will be change to this current Giants roster.
"Wins always make you love each other. So that’s a common denominator -– wins. Every team is different, as you know. Every offseason the team changes, but there will be a strong core of the players – our current players – coming back. I can tell you that. But there will definitely be some changes."
On finding another hidden gem on the Giants roster: Reese hopes there are some more Cruz's and Ballard's on the roster.
"There are always guys. That’s what’s important in personnel. When you look at personnel and look into the future you always want to look on your roster first in our opinion. Look at your roster first – is the guy that you need already on your roster – before you go out and look for someone somewhere else. More times than not the guy is already on your squad. So there are some young practice squad guys that we like. We had a terrific practice squad. There are some kids on the practice squad that we really like."
"Hopefully some of those guys will step out of the shadows and heal some voids for us as we move along. They’re on the practice squad for a reason. We don’t have guys on our practice squad just to be dummy defense. We have guys out there who we think can have some redeeming qualities that might develop into some players. We try to develop them, as we go through the year, on the practice squad."
On the salary cap: Reese said the Giants' cap situation may be similar to last season's.
"It looks like [the salary cap] is going to be pretty flat. It could be a little bit more than it was this time, but it could be a little bit less. I think we can work off of the same number we worked off of last year and I think we’ll be pretty close either way. It will be pretty flat, I think."