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NFL Lines - Defending Champs

Posted by Elio Masi on 8/9/2012 7:34:18 PM

Defending Champs

With yet another NFL lines season set to commence today, it seems only fitting to take a look at the defending champions and the team they’ll be taking on in week one of the preseason. Both the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars rosters will look a little different on Friday night thanks to injuries and offseason transactions, but the Super Bowl Champs are still the heavy favorites going into Friday night’s showdown.

Due to contract disputes, two of Mike Mularkey’s Jaguars missed the early stages of training camp. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has missed some key time on the gridiron and continues to do so due to the sizeable raise he would like on his current $4.45 million contract. Considering he led the NFL lines in rushing just a year ago, many believe Jones-Drew should receive more money. Due to the Jaguars’ inability to get a deal done, Jones-Drew will not be available in week one of the preseason, leaving Rashad Jennings as starter running back. Since Jacksonville will depend heavily on their running game once again this season, going with a secondary running back in the preseason is not a great indication of how good their team will be going into the regular season.

The other player the Jags had difficulty reaching to terms with was their fifth overall pick in the 2012 Draft – wide receiver Justin Blackmon. However, on Monday, Blackmon finally agreed to a contract, putting an end to the 12-day holdout. Due to his absence at their training camp, Blackmon will not debut until August 17th, when Jacksonville takes on New Orleans.

Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they also need to deal with the absences of left guard Will Rackley and defensive end Austen Lane for Friday night’s showdown. Both Rackley and Lane are out of the lineup due to ankle sprains. Due to Lane’s injury, Andre Branch - the Jaguars’ second-round selection in 2012 - will be given a chance on first string.

Perhaps the most intriguing situation on the Jaguars’ roster will be that of quarterback Blaine Gabbert. With his first pro season being disastrous all around, he’ll be looking for a little redemption in his second year. After selecting him in the first round just one year prior, Gabbert went off to a terrible start, letting his team free-fall to last in the NFL lines in both total and passing yards. With Jacksonville acquiring the services of Chad Henne during the offseason, you have to wonder how long Gabbert’s leash will be this year.

As for the Giants, they’ve had quiet the short offseason. After beating New England 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants enjoyed yet another offseason knowing they were the very best in the NFL lines. However, this season has already begun to script a different story. With Wide receiver Mario Manningham, running back Brandon Jacobs, cornerback Aaron Ross and tight end Jake Ballard no longer a part of the defending Champs’ roster, the 2012 season will have it’s setbacks for the Giants as well. Adding Hakeem Nicks and Terrell Thomas to the absentee list (because of injuries) puts even more fear into the Giants’ supporters in regards to how competitive their team will be in the upcoming months.

With the selection of David Wilson and Rueben Randle in April’s draft, the Giants might have found replacements for Jacobs and Manningmham for the season. However, much is still to be decided given the current battles going on in camp for positions on New York’s roster.

Elio’s Edge
It’s an interesting situation for both of these teams going into Friday’s game. The Jaguars will be looking to rebound after the worst offensive display in the league while the Giants will look to survive after gutting out some key contributors from their Super Bowl run. Although they’ve split the last sixpreseason fixtures, given the Jaguars’ injury list and their inability to move the ball last season, the Giants should have a relatively easy task in front of them even with their revitalized NFL lines roster.


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