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Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Giants must juggle offensive line again

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It has been going on since the preseason. The New York Giants, due to injuries along the offensive line, have repeatedly had to reconfigure their starting five at those crucial positions. A season-ending knee injury to center Jim Cordle, who'd been filling in for injured center David Baas, is the latest issue to be resolved.

As of now, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday, the team will stick to the arrangement it used Sunday when Cordle had to leave the game against the Cowboys. Kevin Boothe moves from left guard to center, and James Brewer comes off the bench to start at left guard. Boothe has no problem with the move. He says he takes practice reps at center anyway, and he's played it in games for the Giants as well. Brewer is the question mark.

"My plan is to make the most of it and play well," Brewer said. "I already played before. I started against Dallas in the first game and against Kansas City at right guard. I've already done it. For me, it's to show the coaching staff I'm the right man for the job."

There's pretty much nothing behind Brewer on the depth chart at this point, so unlike the spot starts to which he referred, this is likely to be a longer-term audition. The Giants have five games left, and unless there's another injury or he's completely incompetent, Brewer looks likely to start all five.

The new alignment looked very good as a run-blocking unit Sunday, when the Giants racked up more than 200 rushing yards against the Cowboys. But they know they have to play a more complete game together and do a better job of blocking for Eli Manning and the passing game.

"We have to make sure we do a better job of protecting Eli and give him enough time," left tackle Will Beatty said. "We all work together in practice and in the meeting rooms, so it's not a big change with a new guy to my right or to Kevin's left. We just have to make sure we're still all communicating."

Beatty and rookie Justin Pugh have started every game at the tackle positions, but the interior of the line has seen a great deal of upheaval, with David Diehl having replaced the injured Chris Snee at right guard and the shuffling as mentioned at left guard and center. As a result, the Giants have often found themselves vulnerable to interior pass-rush pressure from opponents. That's not likely to change, even with people lining up at different positions. The task will remain the same, and likely not more or less challenging as a result of the shifts.

"It's unfortunate that Jim went down," Boothe said. "But we have worked too many different combinations in practice for anyone to think it's going to be a big problem to adjust."