<
>

O-line shuffle puts Pugh in starting lineup

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants shuffled their offensive line on Tuesday and are ready to accelerate the progress of first-round pick Justin Pugh.

Pugh joined the starting line at right tackle with David Diehl moving to left guard and Kevin Boothe sliding to center. The Giants will move forward with this line until David Baas is ready to return from an MCL injury. Baas hopes to be healthy in time for the season opener on Sept. 8.

“Well, it is the best way for us to play right now,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of his new offensive line. “Fortunately we have some guys who can play in a lot of different spots.”

The Giants drafted Pugh with designs that he would start soon. Perhaps, not this soon. Pugh will start Saturday at right tackle against the New York Jets in the teams' third preseason game. How long he stays there remains to be seen, but the Giants like their first-round pick a great deal.

“Obviously, we have a lot of confidence in him or he wouldn't be here, or [be a first-round] pick,” Coughlin said. “Certainly, he’s got plenty to work on. He’s a young kid, but hopefully you put him in there now and we bring Chris Snee along, and Chris is there to help him. It’s a good move. The more they can work together, the better off we’ll be.”

Diehl struggled a bit in Sunday’s game against the Colts. He allowed a sack to Erik Walden and had difficulty slowing down Bjoern Werner on a quarterback pressure. Diehl -- who suffered an injury to his right thumb and will play with a cast on his hand -- was upset with his performance, but defiantly vowed to rebound and correct his mistakes.

“I am sure I am going to hear it,” said Diehl, who has played various positions for the Giants. “I got beat because I am old and I lost a step and all those things. But everything on film is all correctable techniques. The sack that I got beat on, I should have recognized the protection scheme and the adjustments that they made. I set too flat.

“So I am going to come out here and do 100 sets if I got to to get that corrected,” he added. “That is what preseason is for. Don’t get me wrong, there is a sense of urgency to get things right. But in no way shape or form are we panicking, thinking that this is time that the ship is on fire and jump off board.”

If this starting offense produces, the Giants can afford to ease Baas back in the lineup. Also, if Pugh shines and the team runs the ball effectively and protects Eli Manning, Coughlin may have some tough decisions to make. But only time will answer that.

“I mean I’m willing to play any position. It doesn’t really matter to me where I’m at,” Pugh said before practice. “Right tackle, left tackle, guard, I think I can play both positions.”

Pugh saw action at left tackle with the second team on Sunday and has seen snaps at right tackle during camp. He suffered a concussion earlier in camp that cost him a week of practice time and the first preseason game against Pittsburgh.

He thought he adjusted well against live action for the first time as a pro.

“I think I was all right. The speed wasn’t too much of a shock,” Pugh said.

It certainly helps when you go against the Giants' defensive ends in practice.

“When I play with the twos, I go against Damontre [Moore] and Adrian Tracy, both real good pass rushers,” Pugh said. “Obviously ([Mathias] Kiwanuka has those long arms and [Justin] Tuck, he’s been around for a while, so he has some moves that he can give you, he knows how to play the game. So definitely all of those guys give me a good look.”