- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It hasn't been the easiest of seasons for David Diehl.
The veteran right tackle has missed time with a sprained MCL, and when he has played, Diehl has struggled as he's allowed a handful of sacks.
As the team enters the bye, Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty believes Diehl will be able to sort it all out and pick up his play.
"He's a competitor," Flaherty said. "As most guys do when they go through an injury they miss valuable time. Even though he had a preseason, he was playing a new position, we also had him working at some guard. He just has to get more familiar with the right tackle position. I think he'll be just fine."
Diehl has drawn the ire of fans for his unsteady play this year, as the veteran has had difficulties. After playing at left tackle for most of his career, as well as left guard last year, the team moved him to right tackle for this year. He's only started four games, however, as he suffered a sprained MCL against Tampa Bay that knocked him out for three games.
While Flaherty, as well as offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, said there isn't any connection between sacks allowed and Diehl's play, the statistics show the team has given up more with Diehl in. In the four games Diehl has started, the Giants have allowed nine sacks. In the other six games, all with reserve Sean Locklear at right tackle, the Giants only yielded three.
"He's been a good football player for how many years? It's not all of a sudden overnight that he's become a bad football player," Flaherty said. "He needs to get better at certain things, as well as our left tackle, our left guard, our center and our right guard."
Diehl's play has been magnified because of the job Locklear did in Diehl's absence. While Diehl missed those three games, and then was used a backup tight end, Locklear played well on the edge. The team eventually made the move before playing Pittsburgh on Nov. 4 to put back in Diehl because a starter can't lose his job to injury. Flaherty said he told Locklear the switch had nothing to do with his play.
In the last two games, the Giants have allowed six sacks to the Steelers and Bengals, with a season-high four coming in the 31-13 loss to Cincinnati. Flaherty said the team will analyze all of the positions on the offensive line in a way to try to get better, not just solely looking at Diehl and his play. He believes the more games Diehl gets at right tackle will only help.
"When you miss that many games, and it's the first time on the right side for a while, it takes some time and unfortunately our time is pressed each and every week," Flaherty said. "That's one of the things about the technique, he had all of preseason and then he missed a month of it, something around there, and that has set him back a little bit with his technique. David will fight through it. He'll get it. I don't question that. He always has."