Tight end is a position of concern for the New York Giants as they enter the 2012 NFL season, which begins for the defending Super Bowl champs on July 26 when they report to training camp at UAlbany.
The Giants enter the season without either of their primary tight ends in the Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum both suffered serious knee injuries in the Super Bowl. Ballard, not expected to play this season, was claimed by the Patriots when the Giants tried to sneak him through waivers. When Beckum will be available is unknown.
New York will enter training camp with Bear Pascoe, in his fourth season with the team, listed as the starting tight end. Pascoe, though, is not viewed as the long-term answer. He has 22 receptions in three years while often also functioning as a fullback.
[Inside Football On The Giants' Tight Ends]
The Giants will hope that Martellus Bennett, signed to a one-year contract as a free agent after four unsatisfying seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, can shed his reputation as an under-achiever and become the primary tight end. Playing behind Jason Witten in Dallas, Bennett has 85 career receptions. His best season was 2010, when he caught 33 passes. Bennett is considered to be a premier run-blocking tight end, but has yet to fulfill his promise as a pass-catching threat.
Fourth-round draft choice Adrien Robinson is also a player the Giants are excited about. The Giants believe Robinson, who caught only 29 passes in four season at Cincinnati, was under-used by the Bearcats.
"Right now we have a long way to go at that spot. Fortunately, in fairness, when we lost Kevin Boss, I was thinking, "Wow, where are we going to go?" And I thought Jake [Ballard] could be the guy. He looked like he could be the big strong blocker and maybe an intermediate underneath guy in catching the ball. And as I said to you guys a lot, "He exceeded because he caught the ball down the field." I didn’t really think he would be able to do it. He certainly didn’t do it with his speed. He did it with his finesse, intelligence. He set people up and got open and did some great things. He will be sorely missed. We knew we weren’t going to have him this year, but he was a guy that could have been a starter for a long time. Now somebody else has to step up," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said during mini-camp. "You are hoping Martellus - that is why he was brought here. You are hoping that Adrien Robinson down the road would be the guy. If not, Bear is going to be the guy. Bear will be the guy. Somebody has got to do it."
The Giants hope to find out who that somebody will be during their stay in Albany.