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Cover 3: Takeaways from spring, questions for summer

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Dan Salomone: My biggest takeaway from this spring is that the Giants are going to rely on their front four getting after the quarterback, and if they can do so, that has been a good formula throughout franchise history. Led by newcomer Brian Burns, fellow two-time Pro Bowler Dexter Lawrence, and Kayvon Thibodeaux, fresh off his first double-digit sack campaign, the group has the potential to be not only the strength of the defense, but also the identity of the team.

All under the age of 27, they will lead Bowen’s new defense for the foreseeable future. Despite the non-contact rules, we’ve seen and heard them start to develop the chemistry that will be necessary across the board.

“I think last year the interior and the edge weren’t cohesive,” Thibodeaux said. “Now it’s going to start to work like clockwork. That’s the maturity. That’s where I’m growing as a player and we’re growing as a defense, being able to play as a unit.”

Underscoring its importance, the Giants even have defensive line coach Andre Patterson working with the edge rushers this spring.

“It’s just us hearing the same things, not being independent contractors,” Lawrence said. “We’re all hearing the same things. We’re all hearing, what’s going to happen in this situation? Or what’s going to happen in this situation? I think obviously it just makes sense, when you bring that thing together, everything starts clashing a little better. We mold into each other. Learning each other’s tendencies. Learning who’s next to you, learning talking, learning lingoes. It’s just, when you bring the two groups together, it’s just what’s supposed to happen.”

Now for my biggest question, which is tied to my biggest takeaway: How will the offensive line handle this front when the pads come on? Team president John Mara agreed with a reporter at the NFL Annual Meeting that it is “ridiculous” to be going on a decade of questions about the offensive line. But with two top-seven draft picks at tackle (Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal), a second-rounder at center (John Michael Schmitz) and free-agent investments at guard (Jon Runyan and Jermaine Eluemunor) to go along with a new position coach in Carmen Bricillo, the Giants are confident in where the group can go this season and beyond. As they are fully aware, though, the real test has not begun.

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