EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The days of stability along the New York Giants offensive line are in the past.
Through the Giants' first eight games, the team has already started four different combinations on the offense line, and the same five have never started more than two games in a row. The lack of week-to-week cohesiveness has played a role in the Giants' offensive struggles this season.
"It's a challenge and we've always approached it in our offensive lineman room that you have to get ready," Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said Tuesday. "The reason you're on this team is the New York Giants organization signed you to a contract to play. There's no redshirt in the NFL."
"If you're going to be here, my job as a coach is get them ready to play, no matter who we're playing and at what time, because you never know."
Injuries have ravaged the Giants' offensive line. They've already lost starting right guard Chris Snee (hip) and center David Baas (knee) for the season. Current right guard and longtime starter David Diehl also missed the first four games after undergoinging thumb surgery in the preseason.
With Snee and Baas out, and a lack of depth on the offensive line, the Giants have had no choice but to turn to first-round pick Justin Pugh. Although the initial thought was to ease Pugh into a starting role, he's been at right tackle since the season opener. He started off slow, as did the entire offensive line, but the rookie has improved over the course of the season.
"Justin's progressing along fairly well. In the last few weeks his technique and fundamentals are becoming better," Flaherty said. "In the beginning, with learning the offense, and learning the techniques you need, particularly in pass protection, some things were very challenging to him because he was playing against savvy veterans in the beginning of the season. The last couple of weeks he's settled down. The game is slowing down for him. I think it's still fast."
Flaherty said Diehl's technique has improved as he's further removed from his injury, and he called center/left guard Kevin Boothe a solid performer. Flaherty also had kind words about the play of backup Jim Cordle, who is now the starting center due to Bass' injury.
"Jim knows the offense. He works extremely hard on and off the field and looks forward to the opportunity to play," Flaherty said. "What do you do when a guy is not able to play? Jim has always been one of those guys 'Hey, I'll do anything. I'll be the backup long-snapper. I'll get in there and play center, I'll play guard.' He runs on the field when a guy comes off. He's done that for two years now."