With training camp upon, so many questions are about to get answered for the New York Giants. Players report to camp Thursday morning and will grind for the better part of the next six weeks until the start of the regular season.
For many this is an opportunity to prove something, whether it be they deserve a roster spot, starting spot, more respect or a new contract. Individually, each player is out to make a point even though the group collectively shares a common goal -- to put a fifth trophy in the case.
As training camp begins, these players stand out with something to prove for a variety of reasons explained below.
OT Ereck Flowers -- His first two professional seasons have been a disappointment. There is no way around it. The eye test and metrics -- whether it be his PFF grade (48.4) or number of penalties committed (13) last season -- accurately display his struggles. Year 3 will really be make-or-break for Flowers, who received a vote of confidence from the organization this offseason when they didn't sign a veteran tackle. The Giants are giving him another shot at playing left tackle and protecting Eli Manning's blindside. They've been impressed so far with the reshaping of his body and a renewed work ethic this spring. The 23-year-old must now carry the momentum over to the field to prove he's not a bust as the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
G Justin Pugh -- This is a big season for Pugh in a contract year. He knows that payday is around the corner as long as he can remain healthy. Guards feasted on the open market in free agency, and as long as Pugh can stay on the field he will be among the next in line to get paid at the position. Pugh has missed at least two games in each of the past three seasons. He's missed nine total in four seasons. He simply needs to show the Giants and the rest of the NFL that he isn't injury prone. That will be worth millions.
QB Geno Smith -- Nobody seems to know what Smith is as a quarterback. His time with the New York Jets was riddled with strange situations and injuries. But Smith is now on a new team, in a new system and coming off a serious knee injury. So many questions, so much unknown. This summer will be an opportunity for Smith to prove he's a capable NFL quarterback. It could earn him a chance to start elsewhere next year or down line, or send his career off the plank.
LB B.J. Goodson -- The second-year player is receiving an opportunity to be the starting middle linebacker on one of the league's best defenses. These kind of opportunities don't come around often. It’s why Goodson began working out just weeks after last season ended. He knew this would be the spring and summer where he could prove himself as a starter at the NFL level.
CB Eli Apple -- His rookie season had its ups and downs, in part because of some nagging injuries. But Apple showed enough as a starter on the outside to leave the impression that he can grow into a difference-making player. He'll need to make a big jump in Year 2.
CB Darian Thompson -- He would've been the starter at free safety if a foot injury didn't ruin his rookie season. Now he's back, feeling good and ready to jump back into a role as a starter in that secondary. If Thompson shows this summer what had people inside the Giants' building raving last season, he'll be in good shape. So will that Giants secondary. It's loaded.
DBs Nat Berhe and Mykkele Thompson -- Both players enter their fourth NFL season. Combined they have appeared in just 24 career games. Injuries have plagued them ever since they were drafted. They know this is their last chance, with both in the final year of their rookie deals.
Year IV. The Showcase. pic.twitter.com/dehKGmcn7T— The Missile (@NatBerhe) July 25, 2017
Berhe will try to make his mark in a crowded safeties room and Thompson will get a shot at safety and as a nickelback. Both have to show something on the field in order to stick with the Giants. They're well aware of their personal situations.