Giants 2012 Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends
Part 4 of our 2012 training camp preview examines the tight ends.
The Players: Bear Pascoe, Martellus Bennett, Adrien Robinson (R), Larry Donnell, Ryan Purvis, Travis Beckum
The Storylines: Last season, starting tight end Jake Ballard finished with 38 receptions for 604 yards and four touchdowns. Replacing that production shouldn’t be too difficult, and the hope is that whoever emerges as the pass receiving tight end can show just enough consistency to make opposing defensive coordinators pay extra attention to the tight end position, which would open up things for the receivers.
What’s going to be more of a challenge is finding guys who can contribute to the run blocking party. Last year, the blocking from the tight end spot was just as much to blame for the difficulties in the running game, so if the Giants can get more consistency from the position, the running game should be that much more improved.
The other story line to watch is Bennett’s development. In recent memory, I can’t recall any player who’s been as hotly debated as Bennett, whom, according to who you read, is either a misunderstood talent that never really got a fair chance in Dallas because of Jason Witten, or who is a total slacker who marches to the beat of his own drum.
Bennett’s showing at minicamp was inconclusive, mainly due to his hamstring injury. His weight issue, in my opinion, is not a big deal as any extra bulk, so long as it’s kept in moderation, should help him with his blocking if that added bulk is muscle.
Bennett may or may not be the long-term answer, but he’s going to get the opportunity to show that he belongs. What he does with those opportunities remains to be seen.
Keep an Eye On: Robinson, the rookie fourth round draft pick, is going to get a crash curse this summer from position coach Mike Pope, who is hoping to make up for some time lost between the two thanks to Robinson’s school running through the end of May. Robinson has wonderful size, but his technique shown in the spring clearly needs some polishing as at times in going against a blocking sled, his pads were too high. He’ll also need to adapt to the lift and move technique that Pope teaches the tight ends.
Predictions: Assuming there are no injuries, the tree tight ends should be Pascoe, Bennett, and Robinson. As for Beckum, he’ll almost certainly begin the year on PUP as for him to rush back after having his knee surgery at the end of February is probably a risk.
Once Beckum’s time on PUP is up, whether he’s added to the 53-man roster will largely depend on injuries, of course, and how far along Robinson is in his development. If there are no injuries, Beckum, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, will likely stay on PUP, as I doubt that if the trio of Bennett, Pascoe and Robinson are healthy, the Giants will add a fourth tight end to the mix (unless fullback Henry Hynoski is sidelined and the team needs Pascoe at fullback).
Also I wouldn’t be shocked if the Giants try to get Hopkins back on the practice squad following camp. Although the team drafted Robinson and signed Bennett as a free agent, given the fact that Pascoe, Bennett, and Beckum will all be UFAs after the season, it would make sense for the team to try to keep a guy such as Hopkins around given his familiarity with the offense, as the likelihood of the Giants re-signing all three of their upcoming UFAs at tight end is probably not good.