By Ernie Palladino
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The Giants checked into their summer digs on Thursday morning, moving their TVs, comfy couches and whatever else they desired to make the University at Albany dorm rooms as cozy as possible.
And, oh yeah, they bore a challenge from the rest of the division on their shoulders, too.
It's not real different from the welcome any other defending Super Bowl Champion gets from its division rivals heading into the new season. Only this one means a bit more, since it comes from Philadelphia, the land of all bitterness.
From the mouth of Michael Vick last week came the statement that the Eagles "have a chance to build a dynasty."
Considering how last year's "Dream Team" worked out, that's pretty bold talk. Especially since the Eagles have yet to win a single title with Vick at the controls.
And then Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson added some fuel when he said on Wednesday, "To see the Giants win the Super Bowl last year, and just know how we play against them, honestly it kind of bothers me a lot."
You'd think comments like that would have had the Giants steaming as they reported for duty. But with these guys, it's just business as usual. First things first and all that. And Eli Manning, of course, is the leader of that movement.
At the beginning of the week he responded to Vick by simply passing off the statement, directing a compliment southward to the team they split the season series with.
"Obviously, hey, we got to play football," Manning said. "I know they're a talented team. They've got great players, and we've got some good players on our team as well. We'll see Philadelphia down the road. Right now, it's just getting ready for training camp and trying to get better."
The task began with Thursday's meetings. When they hit the field for the first practice, they'll start answering the questions.
Will first-round running back David Wilson look as fast and slippery as he did in minicamp once the pads go on?
Who among Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers, Greg Jones, and Mark Herzlich will win the spot at middle linebacker?
Will they make maximum use of the MLB at all, or will the Giants bring back Deon Grant to again be part of the three-safety combination that they've utilized on passing downs the past couple of seasons?
How will Victor Cruz look after a celebrity offseason? And how can they fit in fast second-round receiver Rueben Randle among Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon and Jerrel Jernigan?
What about overall depth?
What can Tom Coughlin do differently, especially with only one practice per day now, to get off to faster starts in games?
Does this team really have the stuff to mount a legitimate defense of its Super Bowl win, or will the signs of a letdown crop up in Albany?
It's all out there, answers and all.
What storylines will you be on the lookout for at training camp as the Giants prepare for their title defense? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below...
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