- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Veteran guard Chris Snee, who's coming off two hip surgeries in two years, missed minicamp practices last week because his surgically repaired elbow was bothering him. Snee seemed in good spirits about it and insisted he'd be ready for training camp. The 32-year-old guard joked that the New York Giants were treating him the way the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs treated their veterans during the season, getting them extra rest so they'd be fresh for the games that count.
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said he saw Snee in the building the next day and said to him, "You feel like Tim Duncan? That's great, because I feel like Gregg Popovich a little bit."
Joking aside, Flaherty and Snee are playing the long game. The Giants know they need Snee back healthy at right guard to get the most from their offensive line this year, and they aren't worried about the missed time costing Snee time in the new offense. They think his health is more important.
"Activity out there could help him, sure, but I don't think it's as vital as, for example (rookie center) Weston Richburg, or someone like (Brandon) Mosley when he was a rookie," Flaherty said. "I think Chris will be fine, if the medical staff and his health holds up. That's the only reason to say 'if.' He's going to be fine in terms of the football part of it."
Health on the offensive line is a major issue around the Giants after what happened last year. Snee and center David Baas went down in Week 3 with injuries. Backup center Jim Cordle didn't make it through the year, forcing the Giants to move Kevin Boothe to center and play James Brewer at guard. When David Diehl, who replaced Snee, was hurt later in the year, the Giants started the untested Mosley, who then got hurt himself and left them even thinner.
"It's probably the second round of injuries that show up and make you say, 'Whoa, how deep are we?'" Flaherty said. "I don't know if anybody's that deep, unless you have, in the last five years, drafted offensive linemen in the first round for five years in a row. Then you have pretty good depth. So every team is looking for that guy to step in. Now, the guy that has to step in for the guy that stepped in? You have to create that and work hard on that each and every day. And I think that might have affected us in certain positions last year."
The Giants believe they added quality veteran depth in free agency with tackle Charles Brown and guard John Jerry. But Jerry missed minicamp and organized team activities with a knee injury, and Brown lined up as the starting left tackle during the spring because regular starter Will Beatty is still working his way back from the leg injury he suffered in Week 17. Beatty swears he'll be ready for training camp, but Flaherty admitted that, as of this moment, the Giants don't know who their starting left tackle is.
"As of today, no, we probably don't," Flaherty said. "But we're not playing today. We have some time. But as we get closer to training camp and we get into training camp, as the old saying goes, the walls are closing in."
Training camp starts July 22. By that point, the Giants are hoping to be healthier on the offensive line than they were in the spring. And if they can't be that this year, they'll hope they're better set up to handle offensive line injuries this year than they were in 2013.