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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Big Blue Morning: Justin Pugh honored

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

New York Giants tackle Justin Pugh was named to the Pro Football Writers of America's 2013 All-Rookie team as one of two starting tackles (along with San Diego's D.J. Fluker). Pugh was indeed one of few bright spots on the Giants' offense this past year. They drafted him in the first round because they liked him as a player and a person and believed he could fill any number of roles on the offensive line long-term, and they knew their long-term line needs would be many and varied. But after David Diehl injured his thumb in the preseason, the Giants elevated Pugh to the starting right tackle position and he played all 16 games there.

I thought he improved as the season went along. He was consistently strong in the run game and in-and-out as a pass-protector -- overall, above-average for a rookie asked to start right away. And according to the site nflpenalties.com, which tracks such things, Pugh was whistled for only three penalties all year -- two illegal formations and one face mask. Not a single holding or false start call against a rookie tackle? Pretty good.

Pugh is a smart guy who will identify what he needs to improve and work on it, and there's already talk about if he might be the better left tackle long-term than Will Beatty, who signed for five years to play left tackle last offseason. Prior to the draft, scouts thought Pugh would be better served at guard at the professional level, but the Giants seem to view him as a tackle, and his performance in 2013 didn't move them off of that position. In a year that went very poorly for the Giants, the drafting, development and performance of Pugh was one thing that went very well.

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