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Larry Donnell's health could complicate Giants' tight end situation

With only seven days now until the New York Giants report to training camp, we continue our position-by-position roster breakdown with a look at the tight ends.

Projected starter: Larry Donnell

Likely to make the roster: Daniel Fells

On the bubble: Jerome Cunningham, Adrien Robinson, Matt LaCosse, Will Tye

A surprise hiccup: After Donnell emerged from a seemingly shaky crop of candidates last summer and established himself as a playmaking starter, the Giants hoped he'd have another strong offseason and build on his 2015 success. Instead, Donnell had an old Achilles injury flare up in the spring and missed a good chunk of OTAs and minicamp. He played it down and said all along that he hopes to be ready for camp, and he may well be. But even if he is, those missed practices in May and June could be costly. The Giants believe the offseason is Donnell's strength -- that he's shown a real ability to learn, apply knowledge and improve during the offseason program -- and they were counting on a full offseason to help Donnell take the next step in his development. And if he's not healthy enough to participate in camp, they're going to have to hope someone emerges this August the way Donnell did last August. Fells is a very good blocker who showed red-zone receiving ability last year, and Cunningham opened eyes last year and again this spring as a player with potential. But in Donnell, the Giants believe they have a dynamic passing-game weapon to go with their dynamic wide receiver and running back groups. If they have to replace him, they'll have to change aspects of their plan to accommodate the dropoff from Donnell to their backup options. Donnell is a player to watch early in camp for health reasons.

Last chance? Robinson has never shown an ability to be a reliable receiver -- not even in college, where he caught 29 passes in four seasons at Cincinnati. The Giants took him in the fourth round in 2012 based on his physical potential and his pre-draft workout performance, but he's never developed the way they hoped. If Donnell's injury lingers, that could open the door for one more chance for Robinson. But he'd have to take a much larger leap than even Donnell took this time last year in order to convince the Giants they can rely on him.

Roster math: I expect the Giants to carry at least three tight ends, which means those in the "on the bubble" group up there would be competing for one or maybe two spots. Robinson may have an edge just because the Giants might not want to give up on him, but undrafteds like LaCosse or Tye could pass him with a strong camp performance, and at this point Cunningham may already have passed him.