Kevin Boss led the Giants' tight ends in receiving for three straight years, catching between 33-42 passes from 2008-10.
He wasn't able to agree on a long-term deal last offseason, bolted for Oakland and the Giants have been searching for some continuity ever since.
Jake Ballard stepped up to catch 38 passes during the regular season last year, but he and Travis Beckum both suffered major knee injuries during the Super Bowl victory over New England. Ballard has since been released and Beckum isn't expected to be ready in time for the season.
So the Giants have taken a sort of shotgun blast approach toward solving one of few glaring holes.
Bear Pascoe, who has served various roles as an H-Back type, is the "incumbent." Martellus Bennett was signed away from division-rival Dallas. Adrien Robinson was drafted in the fourth round. Christian Hopkins is a big kid at 6-feet-5, 275 pounds who endeared himself to the coaching staff with a strong practice work ethic last season.
"We do have more new faces now then maybe we ever have," Giants tight ends coach Michael Pope said. "It's very rare to lose two players in one game at the end of the season like we did, so we've been trying very hard to replace those guys with athletes and I think we've been able to do that.
"The thing you don't replace is the experience and the amount of playing time, and the rules and regulations that we're playing by now disallow us as many opportunities as we might have had in the past. We're just learning as fast as we can to catch up."
While Pascoe has proven to be versatile and is the most familiar with the playbook, the expectation is that Bennett will emerge as the top receiving option at the position. He has been working to shed weight gained over the offseason and has been very outspoken with the media, but Pope likes what he has seen from Bennett on the field and in the film room.
"We did a good job in that selection I believe as a free agent," said Pope. "He has bought into our system. He's learning a language; he's going from Greek to Latin, because very obviously the system he played in is probably the third or fourth system he has played in through college and in Dallas."
"It's hard to evaluate him until they know exactly what they're doing and they can play at the speed of the game. We aren't there yet."
Robinson is playing catch up after missing most of the offseason while waiting for classes to finish at Cincinnati. He played in a spread offense in college and is still learning how to line up properly.
Robinson has displayed raw athleticism, but the technique has a long way to go. In the Giants' system, tight ends must be able to handle their blocking assignments first and foremost.
"He does have a large number of, not flaws, but areas that he hasn't had any experience in," said Pope. "Until he makes up that time that he missed in the spring he won't fix those flaws."
Bottom line, the stage is set and the opportunity is bountiful for someone to emerge as a breakout star in an offense that has plenty of weapons.
"These guys have sometimes played secondary roles to someone else. Their opportunity to be the starting guy will play itself out," said Pope.
--Cornerback Terrell Thomas will not need surgery following last week's injury to the same knee that was injured last year in training camp. He met with his doctor in California and then traveled to Florida to have a second opinion by Dr. James Andrews, with both agreeing the ACL was still intact.
He will not play in at least the first few preseason games as he continues his rehab program and Thomas deemed it a "minor scare," but admitted he was very relieved to learn he wasn't going to miss a second consecutive season.
"I never got mad," Thomas said. "Last year, I was mad. I was upset. I was just frustrated.
"I prepared for this moment. I wanted to come to training camp and start playing football again. Work on my techniques. Show my teammates and myself that the Giants made the right choice and they still have. I still have the opportunity."
Thomas said the basic definition is that he aggravated his injury and at the end of the day, "ACLs are either working or it's not." And his is working.
--Left tackle Will Beatty continues to be sidelined by the back injury he first suffered in April, and coach Tom Coughlin is getting antsy to see Beatty back on the field. "The days are just flying by. It's kind of a double-edged sword there," said Coughlin, who believes Beatty will be able to resume practicing next week.
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