Jane McManus has a post up on ESPNNewYork.com in which New York Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty offers his thoughts on the team's offensive line situation heading into training camp. Flaherty talks of course about first-round draft pick Justin Pugh, who can play anywhere on the line but is apparently working on competing with David Diehl and James Brewer for the starting right tackle spot. But he also discusses the rest of the line, where things aren't all lined up exactly right either:
The only member of the offensive line who is healthy and has his spot locked up right now is left tackle Will Beatty, who recently signed a five-year deal. To varying degrees, the other four starting spots are potentially in play. Jim Cordle backed up David Baas at center this spring and remains an option, and seventh-round pick Eric Herman could get a look at a few spots with two key players coming off injuries.
Chris Snee, who plays right guard, is rehabilitating a hip injury, and Baas is healing from offseason elbow surgery. Those two were at the voluntary OTAs and attended the mandatory minicamp, but did not participate.
Not mentioned is Kevin Boothe, who I'm pretty sure is slotted in at left guard. But you get the picture. Question marks. Something of an unsettled situation on the line. And I do get questions, you know, about the Giants, and they're usually about Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at wide receiver or how the running back situation's going to play out with David Wilson and Andre Brown or what to expect from new tight end Brandon Myers... stuff like that. Lots of fun, exciting skill-position names on the Giants' offense, which of course is built around excellent, reliable, indestructible quarterback Eli Manning. Lots of reasons to think the Giants can score a lot of points in 2013.
But I hesitate, and the reason is the blocking. The offensive line health issues dealt with in Jane's post are not insignificant. Baas has had trouble staying healthy since he became a Giant. Snee has been severely banged up for the past two seasons -- understandably so, based on his position and his experience level, but still. Right tackle is obviously a major question mark if it's Pugh vs. Diehl. If the Giants have to mix and match on the line, that limits what the offense can do, both from a game-plan standpoint and an on-field execution standpoint.
Add into that the fact that they have this offseason let go one of the best blocking halfbacks in the league in Ahmad Bradshaw, one of the best blocking tight ends in the league in Martellus Bennett and could go into the season without fullback Henry Hynoski, who has a knee injury. Wilson and Myers and of course Nicks, Cruz and Manning are all high-level talents in terms of their ability to make big plays and score points. But my early-July feeling about this year's Giants is that their season will come down to the ability of those guys as well as the big meanies around them to get the dirty blocking jobs done. And from where we sit right now, I think there are major questions about whether they can. Long way to go, and the Giants always contend, but I think looking at the talent level at the skill spots can lead people to overlook some troubling underlying issues on this roster.