EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' regular season opener is just 15 days away, and yet the team still does not know who will be protecting Eli Manning's blind side against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
Projected starting left tackle Will Beatty missed yet another practice on Tuesday because of his back injury, and there is growing concern that he won't be ready to play by Sept. 5.
In the meantime, 31-year-old Sean Locklear -- signed by the Giants last April -- has been manning the position with the first unit.
That's something the Giants were not anticipating, but their star quarterback expressed confidence in Locklear following Tuesday's practice.
"Not worried at all," said Manning. "Sean’s a veteran guy that knows his stuff, knows what he’s doing. He’s come in, he’s worked well with the starting group."
"He’s got everything down, he’s playing at a high level, he’s doing things well," Manning added. "I feel very comfortable with him out there."
Locklear, who played his college ball at North Carolina State, was drafted by Seattle in the third round back in 2004. He played seven seasons for the Seahawks -- starting 78 of the 97 games he played in -- before moving on to the Washington Redskins, where he played in eight games (four starts) in 2011.
"It’s a learning process, just getting out there with the [first unit] and learning the entire system," Locklear said Tuesday. "I’m still probably about 90 percent, 95 percent there. ... But I’ve felt I’ve done well over two [preseason] games."
Locklear has played mostly at right tackle in his NFL career -- but he does have some left tackle experience. While with the Seahawks, he played with one of the great offensive linemen of all time, tackle Walter Jones. But Jones made a habit of holding out during training camp -- which gave Locklear the opportunity to play left tackle throughout the preseason, before switching back to the right side during the regular season.
There is speculation that the Giants could shift current right tackle David Diehl back to left tackle if Beatty can't play, since Diehl has played the position before, including last season. Then the Giants could shift Locklear to right tackle, where he has more experience.
But both players said Tuesday that the coaching staff hasn't said anything to them about a potential shift -- at least not yet.
"I've worked extremely hard, I feel great at right tackle, I feel comfortable, and nothing’s been said to me," said Diehl.
"It’s not like I haven’t done it before," added Diehl, of playing left tackle. "Nothing’s been asked of me, nothing’s been said to me. If you need me to move, I’ve played the position before, I know how to play left tackle, but as of now nothing’s been said."
Either way, Locklear sounds delighted to have an opportunity to play for the defending Super Bowl champs.
"The first day when I came in, I talked to coach Coughlin, that’s exactly what he told me," said Locklear. "There’s nothing set in stone, so just come in and compete, and everything will fall into place."