Knowing what happens in the trenches on either side of the ball can be disturbing. It isn’t a friendly place — like the bottom of a scrum. As an outsider, they’re amusing stories to hear, but there’s a dead seriousness out there on the field and it isn’t for the faint of heart. It helps to have a nasty streak — one the New York Giants have been lacking for years.
It’s easy for some fans to remember tough tackle John “Jumbo” Elliott or the solid years of a player like guard Rich Seubert; neither took garbage from a defensive lineman. In Seubert’s case, it took a severe break to his right lower leg in a 2003 versus the Philadelphia Eagles to bring him down. The back of his leg was stepped on (by defensive end N.D. Kalu) breaking the two bones of his lower leg (tibia and fibula) as well as his ankle. He made his return to the team in 2005 — as a depth player and helped the Giants win a Super Bowl in 2007 as the starting left guard. He never once complained.
Quarterback Eli Manning was sacked a career-high 39 times in 2013. It took 16 weeks before he was actually injured because of the lack of protection. It could have been worse. Is this the year it begins to return to the lines of old?
The Giants drafted an offensive lineman in the second round this draft in Weston Richburg. He’s the newest on the depth chart of possibilities to help gain back that tough and nasty streak. He’s already played with broken bones and compensated well enough to stay on the field instead of the bench.
“Interesting story about him,” said coach Coughlin. “He broke his right hand in 2012 and finished the year snapping the ball with his left hand, so you know he can do that as well. We feel like we have a good solid young center who is very smart.”
Richburg will join second year lineman Justin Pugh who was also scouted as having “a good mean streak” and veteran guard Chris Snee who is known for his tenacity in protecting Eli. New free agent guard Geoff Schwartz has experience and knows his role. That doesn’t mean he won’t put his confident self out there.
“I’m best at guard,” Schwartz said. “I’ve played right guard lots in my career and I know that [Chris] Snee is still here, so I will be starting at left guard. I just feel more comfortable there. But I’ve played tackle, I started 11 games at tackle and played lots of other games at tackle, so I can do a lot of it. It’s just nice to be able to come into a place where they want you in a position and you can kind of go from there.”
Tackle Will Beatty has not only some mental matters to clear away (“over-thinking” last season), but a nasty break to his lower right leg that is the same one he broke in 2007 while playing for the University of Connecticut.
Centers: Dallas Reynolds, J.D. Walton; guards: Eric Herman, Stephen Goodin; utility linemen: John Jerry, Jamaal Johnson-Webb; and tackles: James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Stephen Baker (not the TD-maker), Troy Kropog, and Charles Brown will have to have serious battles in camp to earn a roster spot on what is without a doubt the most important area of need (or repair) on the team.
The 2013 Giants offense finished 28th in the NFL in total yardage, 29th in rushing and that little factoid of Manning and the career-high 39 sacks — it’s been referred to as “pretty devastating” by GM Jerry Reese and there’s no way complacency is tolerated on this side of the line of scrimmage.
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