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NY Giants’ offseason overhauled leadership, ground attack

Training camp begins this week under new coach Pat Shurmer with what should be an improved rushing game.

Expectations are high for rookie Saquon Barkley, the

Expectations are high for rookie Saquon Barkley, the new face of the Giants' backfield. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

After a disastrous 2017 campaign, the New York Giants will show up to for training camp this week with a much-needed new look.

A new coaching staff in led by Pat Shurmur place should bring stability the team sorely lacked under Ben McAdoo for most of last season, when the second-year head coach was fired in the final month of a 3-13 campaign.

The offense still stars quarkerback-receiver tandem Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. in the passing game, but several major offseason moves addressed a stagnant ground attack. The defense also said goodbye to some mainstays while keeping core starters such as safety Landon Collins and edge rusher Olivier Vernon in place.

Read on for more on what’s new about Big Blue this season as camp begins in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Regime change

Shurmur, the even-keeled former Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator, takes over the on-field operations. His first stint as head coach, two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, didn’t go well, but there’s more talent on this roster than he ever worked with in Cleveland.

Joining him as coordinators are Mike Shula (offense) and James Bettcher (defense), who last season held those positions with the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals, respectively.

Rebuilt rush

Saquon Barkley, the No. 2 overall pick, was drafted in April to revitalize one of the most ordinary backfields of the last few years. The Penn State standout, who the team announced Sunday had signed his rookie contract, will be counted upon as an all-purpose back, and expectations are he will become the Giants’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012.

Three of the top running backs from a year ago — Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen and Paul Perkins — were cast aside, paving the way for Jonathan Stewart, formerly of Carolina, and holdover Wayne Gallman to spell the highly-touted rookie.

Paving the way for Barkley are former New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, the team’s marquee free-agent addition, and second-round pick Will Hernandez at guard. Both are known be strong run blockers and are expected to improve a weak offensive line, even with the departures of capable linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg.

Defensive tweaks

Gone are defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive back Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, mainstays of the Giants’ defense. Their voids will be filled from within after JPP was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and DRC was a salary cap casualty — recent speculation is he could return to the fold.

Offseason acquisitions focused mostly on the front seven, with Alec Ogletree (trade with Los Angeles Rams) and Lorenzo Carter (third-round pick) bolstering the linebacker corps. Defensive end Kareem Martin (Cardinals) and cornerback Curtis Riley (Titans) signed as free agents, and they could play meaningful roles as well.

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