Giants' Brewer will start at unfamiliar spot

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
7:05
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' starting left guard Thursday against the Patriots has never started an NFL game. And before Monday, he had never played left guard.

Sounds a little crazy, but James Brewer can't wait to get out there.

[+] EnlargeJames Brewer
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsJames Brewer will start for the Giants on Thursday against the Patriots.
"I'm very excited to be playing left guard," Brewer said Tuesday after practice. "Honestly, just the chance to start is big for me. And whether or not it's on the right side or the left side, as long as I'm on the field, that's my main objective."

With center David Baas (knee) and right tackle David Diehl (thumb) out for last weekend's game against the Jets, coach Tom Coughlin elected to start backup center Jim Cordle, along with first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle.

But Cordle struggled against the Jets, so Coughlin elected to make another switch this week, moving starting left guard Kevin Boothe to center and inserting Brewer at left guard.

Brewer has played both offensive tackle positions for the Giants, and played right guard this spring while Chris Snee was recovering from hip surgery. But left guard? Never.

The Giants dropped the news on Brewer before Monday's practice, meaning he's had just two days to get comfortable at the position. "But after this week, [O-line coach Pat Flaherty] feels I'm actually a natural at left as far as my footwork and technique," Brewer said. "If he's confident in me, then I'm confident as well."

Coughlin spoke positively about Brewer on Tuesday. "He did well," Coughlin said. "He had a good spring, then he had a setback, and he's kind of getting going again, and yesterday's practice for him was a good one, I thought."

"Athleticism, (good) feet, moves well," Coughlin added. "He's naturally played tackle most of the time he's been here, but he can also play guard, and he's gonna have to."

The 25-year-old Brewer, 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, was the Giants' fourth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Indiana. He was a backup left tackle for one year with the Hoosiers, and then moved over to the right side for the remainder of his college career.

The Giants drafted Brewer as a tackle, but he has had trouble getting on the field. He didn't get into a single game his rookie year, and played in just eight last season.

When the Giants used a first-round pick on Pugh back in the spring, and when they gave Cordle a chance to start ahead of Brewer last week, you had to wonder if Brewer was ever going to get a real chance to play for Big Blue. But Brewer said he wasn't concerned in either case.

"Nothing was said [to me], so I just took it as another person that I have to compete with to play," Brewer said of the team drafting Pugh. "I just want to play."

Well, they will both be in the starting lineup Thursday. And Brewer doesn't sound too anxious about it.

"It's not really a nervous thing at this point, because I know what I'm doing in the offense, as far as the playbook and who we have and who's blocking who, that kind of thing. That takes a lot of pressure off," Brewer said. "For me, it's more just technique stuff, and trying to get comfortable doing it."

"From practice yesterday to today, I feel way better," Brewer added.

How comfortable can you get in two days? We'll find out soon enough.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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