Giants will be fine replacing Burress, Toomer

Rookie WR Hakeem Nicks could be the Giants' replacement for Plaxico Burress this season. (Evan Pinkus / Associated Press)

Rookie WR Hakeem Nicks could be the Giants' replacement for Plaxico Burress this season. (Evan Pinkus / Associated Press)

There were a couple of questions on my mind regarding the New York Giants before I got to their opening practice of training camp today. One was how the team was going to replace departed veteran receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer.

That’s my main question with this team, and here’s my answer as I see it.

Rookie first-round pick Hakeem Nicks, although he has a different body style, is going to be the replacement for Burress. Maybe not on opening day, but soon after that. He has a different style, but he also possesses some things that intrigue me. One, he is explosive like Anquan Boldin. Two, when they tried to use press coverage on him this morning in practice, he was able beat the press. I think because of those two things, he’s the answer for the void left by Plax.

Nicks may not make the big-play catches right away. But if I’m the Giants, and I believe GM Jerry Reese shares this sentiment after talking with him, I would be satisfied with how Nicks will replace Burress.

Head coach Tom Coughlin acknowledges the special talent of Burress, and that the Giants are still in the process of finding an answer, but also recognizes that Nicks has skills. He also recognized that Domenik Hixon isn’t someone to be passed over. Hixon could be a blossoming player and is still getting better.

I’ll leave the Giants camp today thinking that they’ll be fine at the “X” receiver position in replacing Burress.

When it comes to replacing Toomer — the other veteran — I think the Giants feel comfortable that Steve Smith will do fine on first and second downs. Then, on third down, Smith will move into the slot and you’ll see an array of players on the outside. I think David Tyree showed us he’s back and is dangerous. I also know that QB Eli Manning likes second-year WR Mario Manningham a lot.

The quarterback likes Manningham, and that’s enough for me to like him too.

The “other” rookie receiver, third-round pick Ramses Barden, caught my eye with a tremendous practice Monday. He’s raw, but he surprised me in an area that I didn’t know he had — he can break off a route. He’s not as big as Burress, but he can run an out route. Manning connected with him a couple of times this morning, and I was impressed with it.

I’ll post a few more thoughts later on the fate of the Giants defense after Steve Spagnuolo, and tomorrow I’ll be New York Jets training camp.

— Pat Kirwan

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