On Friday, all players for the New York Giants — which, yes, will include Victor Cruz and his new contract — will be reporting to the TIMEX performance Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the start of training camp.
While the next month will be a tune-up for some players to get ready for week one against the Dallas Cowboys on September 8th, some players will be looking to training camp as a much-needed chance to improve. One of the situations that will be looked at between now and September will be the stat of the Giants' offensive line.
Last season, the Giants offensive line went through their share of ups and downs, yet they only allowed 19 sacks on Eli Manning, which is a very good number and one they should aim for if the team wants any success in 2013. Yet, the group has gotten up in age, something Jerry Reese knows and addressed in April when he drafted Justin Pugh out of Syracuse in the first round.
Last year's group will look quite similar to the one most fans will see, but it will for the most part, be a year older with more wear and tear, as Kevin Boothe (30), David Baas (32 in September) and Chris Snee (31) are all over the age of 30 and have dealt with their share of injuries in the past. Boothe was brought back on a one-year deal and with no long-term deal in place, he may be playing in his final year with the team.
In the offseason, the Giants signed left tackle Will Beatty to a five-year, $38.75 million deal and figures to be a part of the Giants offensive line for quite a while. The former second-round pick of the 2009 NFL Draft has really developed into one of the better parts of the unit and at age 28, has come into the prime of his career.
Next to him will be Boothe, David Baas and Snee, all of whom also return fro a year go and pending their health, especially that of Snee, who went through offseason hip surgery and could very well be in a season where he needs to rebound in order to avoid getting cut because of his salary.
The biggest position battle that will draw the most attention will be the right tackle position, which was occupied by Sean Locklear last year and did a fantastic job until a broken leg ended his season, and David Diehl assumed the starting role again. Diehl had to take a pay cut in order to stay on the team and avoid being cut, but was brought back for depth and veteran mentorship, as he is the eldest member of the team, now entering his 11th season with the Giants.
But with Diehl in the lineup at right tackle, the unit seemed to struggle, which is why Reese drafted Pugh, and many feel that the rookie will have a legitimate chance to come out of training camp as the starter. Diehl will definitely not go down quietly in the summer and will likely push Pugh for the spot, which will likely make the youngster a better player. Since Diehl can play all around the line, it will be important for him to still be on the team as he can fill in as a backup if needed (just like he did two seasons ago when he moved back to left tackle when Will Beatty went down for the season with an eye injury.)
In the right tackle battle you will see another name looking for playing time, as James Brewer will look to push both Pugh and Diehl for playing time, as he has been a backup in each of his two seasons with the team since being drafted back in 2011. Brewer might have a chance to play at guard in the summer, especially if Boothe or Snee deal with injuries and Brewer's frame would be able to handle playing in the interior of the line.
Last year's rookies Matt McCants and Brandon Mosley will likely make the team as backup depth and will see their most action in the summer, but won't see the field unless something drastic happens to Beatty and Diehl. Selvish Capers will be challenging 2013 NFL Draft Pick Eric Herman for a roster spot as a backup guard, as the loser of the battle could end up on the team's practice squad.
If everything goes according to plan, the Giants offensive line from left to right should look like Beatty, Boothe, Baas, Snee and Pugh as the starting five with Diehl, McCants, Mosley, Capers, Brewer and Jim Cordle as the backups with Herman going to the practice squad for his rookie season.
When Friday comes, many eyes will be on Pugh and how he handles the transition from Syracuse to the pros, although right now, most eyes are still on him as he remains unsigned heading into camp. However, he is expected to sign his rookie contract before the start of camp this weekend.
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