Giants’ offensive line in flux as training camp begins
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Nothing is more important to the New York Giants’ championship chances than protecting Eli Manning.
Nothing is more jumbled in the Giants’ lineup as training camp opens than the offensive line.
Not the best formula for success. Of course, it’s still only July.
"The Giants have a proud tradition on the offensive line," second-year right tackle Justin Pugh said Tuesday. "There will always be questions and the only way to stop those questions is to go out and play and win and change people’s opinions."
Until they kick it off in the Hall of Fame game on Aug. 3 against Buffalo, the Giants won’t have an opportunity to truly test their blockers. The next week of practices aren’t likely to determine a whole lot.
At some point, though, coach Tom Coughlin and his staff must sort out who will be the starters and backups, and at which positions?
With veteran guard Chris Snee, a four-time Pro Bowler, having retired on Monday, and versatile David Diehl and Kevin Boothe also gone, the line will have a new look regardless of who is where. The Giants brought in six veteran linemen, several others with a little experience, and drafted center Weston Richburg of Colorado State in the second round.
They are considering Brandon Mosley, a 2012 fourth-round pick, for Snee’s spot -- Mosley left practice early Tuesday with what Coughlin referred to as something heat-related. Richburg worked at both center and guard in the first practice session of camp.
Geoff Schwartz, who was with Kansas City last season, has been projected at guard, probably on the left side. J.D. Walton, last with Denver, then Washington -- he didn’t play a game last season -- can play center and guard.
John Jerry, a starting guard in Miami the past two seasons who was discarded after the bullying scandal, is slowly recovering from knee surgery.
Charles Brown, DeMarcus Love and Troy Kropog are tackles who could challenge the incumbent on the left side, Will Beatty. The Giants have Beatty on a "limited schedule," he said, as he recovers from a broken right leg.
"We got a lot of new offensive linemen this year," Manning said. "We need that group to play well and step in to play at a high level for us."
Beatty believes it will happen, even if no one has a clue who will line up where when the season opens at Detroit.
Asked about the turnover up front, the six-year veteran admitted "it is the most since I have been here."
"The hard thing is to get five guys working as one," Beatty added. "But if we make sure we focus on working together, we’ll get it done. I think it will be a fun year for us because of all the changes. We have a whole new crew and how are we going to handle that? We’ll work hard, learn."
Of all the newcomers, Jerry might have the best credentials. He also brings plenty of questions because of his involvement in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying incidents.
The NFL’s investigation of the Dolphins cited Jerry, Incognito and center Mike Pouncey as players who harassed Martin. Jerry says he told the Giants everything about the bullying scandal.
"I have nothing to lie about, so they know everything," he said.
"At the end of the day, the only people I really care about knowing who I am is the guys in the locker room. And I’ve got the chance to talk to some of the guys in the locker room, and we’ve discussed things like that. So I think they have a pretty good feel for who I am."
As for where he fits in, as well as anyone except perhaps Pugh, is anyone’s guess on that jumbled offensive line.
NOTES: Middle linebacker Jameel McClain stopped practicing when his left foot began bothering him. Coughlin said it could be an issue with the metatarsal. ... New cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had a nice interception and return on a long pass intended for first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. Coughlin said Beckham, who has had recent hamstring problems, "pulled up on the ball."
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