Giants could shuffle line with Baas practicing

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
4:12
PM ET
Change is common with the Giants' offensive line.

In seven of their 14 games this season, the unit has fielded a different starting unit than it has the previous week. With injured center David Baas practicing and possibly returning to the starting lineup this week against the Jets, it could be another game of musical chairs for the Giants' offensive line.

They're used to it by now.

"Pretty much it doesn't matter who is in there, we have to be able to go out there and play with whoever suits up," veteran right tackle Kareem McKenzie said. "That's why I think it's crucial that everyone in that offensive line room, everyone on the team understands that, at any one given moment they could be called up to play."

Baas has missed the last three games with a neck injury and intense headaches but practiced for this first time in a few weeks on Tuesday and was back on the field in a limited capacity on Wednesday. He had been working on individual drills during the portion of practices open to the media last week.

While Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin said he will have to see what the Giants will do in terms of bringing Baas back into the mix, Baas has been the starter before his injury sidelined him prior to the Green Bay game. Current center Kevin Boothe said he's not sure yet whether he will be switching positions for this week.

"We'll see how it goes. It's good to see him out there," Boothe said. "We're definitely excited to have him back in the fold and it's still to be determined what exactly his role will be or when he will be out there. We're looking forward to whatever that means in terms of the combination. I think it will be a benefit to our team."

In the three weeks that Baas has been gone, the Giants have had their best rushing attack of the season. In their last three games, the team has rushed for 301 yards (100.3 yards per game), the most of any three-game stretch on the season. This has been behind a line that features two backups in Boothe and left guard Mitch Petrus.

Boothe and McKenzie, though, both downplayed the notion of not changing the lineup just because it has been successful in the past few weeks. Boothe added that it's not up to the lineman to determine such things and said that the unit has played well together no matter what the particular combination might be.

Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said it's going to come down to which lineman have excelled the most this year. In short time, it will be seen if that means reinserting Baas back into the lineup and changing it up once again.

"It's fairly simplistic how to put them together so it will be the most cohesive and be able to perform at our best level and that's combining run, pass, and everything else," Gilbride said. "We'll make that decision. It's fairly easy to see whose playing well, who can play better, what person will contribute more to the quality of the group or the performance of the group. That's really the factor that you're considering but it's not that hard to make that decision."

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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