Originally posted on Big Giants Boom  |  Last updated 7/26/12



Jake Silver
BGB Correspondent

When you win the Super Bowl, it is to be expected that you'll lose a couple of key contributors to the title run. More often than not, those pieces can be difficult to replace, especially when one of them is Mario Manningham, the man who made the second legendary Super Bowl catch of the Eli Manning era. In the wake of his unforgettable play and decent season, Super Mario unsurprisingly departed Big Blue for a more lucrative contract and bigger role with the San Francisco 49ers.

Despite his obvious value, with veteran stud Hakeem Nicks and breakout star Victor Cruz forming one of the NFL's most lethal and dynamic wide receiver duos, Manningham was often marginalized during the 2011 season. In spite of this, the new third wide receiver on the Giants is going to be a tremendously important player, as he will have to be okay with being a lower priority option, able to block and make plays off the ball in addition to making the important plays when Nicks or Cruz see double teams.

Right now, the Giants have Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon and rookie Rueben Randle vying for the job. Each has their own merits, but the training camp battle will likely show the clear favorite early on.

Jernigan is only in his second year, and has begun to show promise as a return man, but still has some developing to do if he wants to play a role in the offense. It's not that he doesn't have a chance, but it seems unlikely at this point.

Barden has the advantage of his monstrous 6'6'' frame, but has been wildly disappointing as a project, and likely would have been released long ago if not for his height. This will be his last chance to crack the lineup for major snaps.

Hixon is the veteran of the group, having played everything for Big Blue from No. 1 receiver, the slot and even kick returns. His experience and 13.3 career yards per catch would make him the clear favorite if not for his injury concerns. Hixon missed all of the 2010 season and 14 games in 2011 after back-to-back ACL tears. The coaching staff will likely want to keep him as a veteran reserve in case of injury, though he does have a chance to earn the third spot in camp.

Randle enters camp as a rookie, coming from a college (LSU) with some issues at quarterback during his time there. Still, Randle was widely considered a steal when the Giants landed him with the 64th pick in the draft.

With his quickness and athleticism, Randle can run routes and make plays on the ball, while his size will allow him to be an effective blocker as well. However, the biggest indicator of Randle being the favorite is that he was the second round draft pick. Jerry Reese probably did not draft a wide receiver in the second round to have him sit behind two previous unproven third rounders and an oft-injured veteran.

Giants fans should expect to see Randle lining up with the starters in Week 1, but no matter who wins the job in the end, you can bet that he'll have an easy time getting open while playing with Cruz and Nicks. The winner of the job will certainly have to try hard to lose it.

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