NFC East: weston richburg

New Giants lineman eager to help

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
3:30
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Adam Snyder, the newest offensive lineman in the New York Giants' locker room, is willing to do whatever he's asked. He has primarily played guard during his nine-year NFL career, but he's also got experience at tackle and center.

"I even played some tight end for a time," the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Snyder joked after Giants practice Thursday, likely unaware of how such a comment might be received by the Giants-watching public.

Snyder
The Giants signed Snyder on Wednesday after they determined that starting left guard Geoff Schwartz needed to go on short-term injured reserve and miss the first eight weeks of the season. With reserve tackle Charles Brown limited in practice because of a shoulder injury and reserve lineman James Brewer still out with a back injury, the Giants needed a versatile depth piece on the line. Giants coach Tom Coughlin seriously said Snyder could be ready to play as early as Monday Night in the regular-season opener in Detroit.

"Sure, why not? He's a veteran," Coughlin said. "He's a good, solid offensive lineman -- a veteran offensive lineman that's played in a lot of big games. He has versatility. We'll have to work some things out as to where, but he'll probably play more than one position, to be honest with you."

Snyder is 32 years old and sports a magnificent, full, light brown beard. He played seven seasons for the 49ers, one for the Cardinals and then one more for the 49ers last year before being cut late last week.

"It's a little bit nerve-wracking, so much new all at once, but I'm up for the challenge," Snyder said. "The guys here know the offense and they can help me. Absolutely, I'd like to show them what I can do."

The Giants are likely to start rookie Weston Richburg at left guard in Schwartz's place and John Jerry at right guard Monday night. But should they have issues there, there is no reason to think Snyder couldn't play his way into some snaps or even a starting role.
The New York Giants agreed to terms with 32-year-old guard Adam Snyder, a nine-year NFL veteran who adds depth for the team on its shaky offensive line.

Snyder
Snyder has played eight of his nine NFL seasons with the 49ers. He started 14 games for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 before returning to San Francisco in 2013. He started four games with San Francisco last year and played in 14 of them, splitting time between left guard and right guard. Pro Football Focus ranked him 40th among guards in the NFL, giving him a strong run-blocking grade and a poor pass-blocking grade, which kind of makes you think he'll fit right in with the Giants' line.

It's unclear at this point how the Giants will make room on the roster for Snyder, but they need help at guard with Geoff Schwartz out with a toe injury and Brandon Mosley out with a back injury. They could put Schwartz (or, I guess, Mosley) on short-term injured reserve, which would require him to miss the first eight weeks of the season, and that would clear a roster spot. Or they could cut someone from the current 53-man roster to make room. The former option is more likely, but as of Tuesday night the Giants hadn't decided whether to make such a move with Schwartz.

Anyway, they need offensive line help, and this guy was out there and they apparently like him, so whatever. At this point, rookie Weston Richburg is slated to start at left guard in Monday night's season opener in Detroit and uninspiring veteran John Jerry is slated to start at right guard. So there are reps to be had at those spots.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin had said his starting offense would play 15 to 18 plays in Thursday night's preseason finale, but they'd only played eight after two possessions and Coughlin decided that was enough.

"If they wanted to play more," the head coach of the New York Giants said, "they should have made some first downs."

Eli Manning
John Minchillo/Associated PressEli Manning and the Giants' first-team offense looked confused again Thursday night.
A fitting epitaph for a five-game preseason in which the Giants won all five games but felt good about none. Starting quarterback Eli Manning played in all five of the games and ended up 20-for-41 for 188 yards and a touchdown. The first-team offense showed some decent signs of being able to run the ball effectively, but the passing game showed nothing but confusion.

After an offseason that brought a new offensive coordinator, a new system and at least six new starters on the offensive side of the ball, the preseason ended with a creepy feeling that very little has been solved. Coughlin locked in Thursday night on a first-quarter Manning incomplete pass intended for Rueben Randle.

"Again, the missed connection between Rueben Randle and Eli," Coughlin said. "'I thought this, he thought that...' Everybody in this room is tired of hearing that stuff. There's no place for that."

That was supposed to be last-year stuff. And the source of Coughlin's frustration is that these five preseason games -- as well as the practices that surrounded them -- did little to convince anyone that the last-year stuff had been left in 2013. The pass protection is still a question mark, Manning's not on the same page as his receivers, and now there are no more exhibition games left and only 10 days until the first game that counts.

"There are things we've got to improve on," Manning shrugged. "But that's why we have another week of practice."

The Giants don't sound worried, and maybe that's because worry isn't going to do them any good at this point. The season's going to start whether they're ready or not, and it's going to start without anyone convinced the offense is going to click right away. Just because they haven't proven anything on the field that would give them confidence doesn't mean they can afford to go into the season without it.

"You have to have confidence," Coughlin said. "We've had preseasons before where we haven't had a lot of numbers with our first offense. Hopefully, we can carry over."

There's a lot of hope around these parts. A lot of relatively blind faith in the ability of these players to perform better in the real games than they did in the fake ones. The one encouraging thing is that the Giants' belief in themselves seems sincere. They do not appear discouraged.

"It was the right route. It just wasn't timed right," Randle said of the play that angered his coach. "I guess he was expecting me to run it quicker since it was press. I'm pretty sure, with something simple like that, we can get it fixed. Not that big of a deal."

The regular season will offer the Giants a chance to prove that their brave preseason talk has been accurate. And it'll do that soon. Rookie offensive lineman Weston Richburg, pressed into duty this week as the starting left guard in place of the injured Geoff Schwartz, might have summed it all up when asked if he was ready to handle that job.

"I don't have a choice," Richburg said.

Ready or not, here the season comes. The Giants believe they're ready, even if they haven't proven it.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said rookie Weston Richburg and veteran John Jerry would start at left guard and right guard, respectively, in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots. Richburg is replacing Geoff Schwartz, who will miss at least a few weeks, if not more, with a toe injury he suffered in Friday's preseason game. Jerry is replacing Brandon Mosley, who has missed the last three days of practice with a back injury.

"He's up and moving, so obviously that's a good sign," Coughlin said of Mosley, who's been the first-team right guard since Chris Snee retired on the eve of training camp.

Jerry
Mosley's injury has offered a fresh chance for Jerry, who missed the start of camp following spring knee surgery and hasn't shown much. If he looks good Thursday night, there's certainly a chance he could steal the job from Mosley. It's also possible that Richburg will lock down left guard in Schwartz's absence and that Schwartz could play right guard upon his return.

The Giants got good news Tuesday when they learned Schwartz would not need surgery, but it remains unclear how much time they can expect him to miss.

"He's very optimistic, and hopefully that's going to mean the recovery will be as fast as possible," Coughlin said of Schwartz. "Obviously, we can't rush him back. It certainly would be good to get him back as soon as possible, but it's not going to be easy."

In other Giants injury news:
  • First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and kick returner Trindon Holliday missed practice again with hamstring injuries. Tackle Charles Brown and tackle/guard James Brewer sat out with shoulder and back injuries, respectively.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara is making good progress in his return from a groin injury, but he won't play Thursday night.
  • Running back Peyton Hillis appeared to be practicing in full. Hillis missed a few weeks of camp with an ankle injury but has returned to practice this week. He made a nice juggling catch on a wheel route with Jacquian Williams covering him in practice Tuesday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's now been a week since the setback that wasn't a setback, and New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham still isn't practicing with the team. Obviously, this means the team's first-round draft pick won't play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots, which means he won't have played in any of the Giants' five preseason games.

"He's not going to play," an obviously frustrated Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Monday's practice, during which Beckham once again worked on a side field with the training staff. "Have you seen him practice? How about practicing first?"

Beckham's last full training camp practice was when he was still at LSU. He injured his hamstring in the first practice of Giants training camp July 22 and hasn't practiced in full with the team since. He returned to the field a bit a couple of weeks ago and was working his way into 11-on-11 drills, but then he hurt himself in practice again last Monday and hasn't practiced since.

"I think he's very frustrated," Coughlin said. "I think his whole personality's held in check because he's not able to do the things that he wants to do."

With Beckham out, the Giants have been using Jerrel Jernigan in his outside receiver spot. It's possible that preseason star Corey Washington could get a look there with the first team Thursday, but we thought that was possible last week and Washington didn't play until the fourth quarter against the Jets.

Obviously, Beckham's availability for the Sept. 8 "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit is in serious doubt. The Giants don't like to rush rookies into action in the first place, and that's especially true when the rookie hasn't had a training camp.

In other Giants injury news:
  • Guard Geoff Schwartz was seeing a foot specialist Monday to determine the severity of his toe injury. The Giants should have news on Schwartz at some point early this week, but it's safe to assume he'll have to miss at least the first few games of the regular season, if not many more.
  • Guard Brandon Mosley missed a second straight day of practice due to a back injury and was getting examined by a doctor, according to Coughlin. John Jerry played with the first-team line in Mosley's right guard spot while rookie Weston Richburg manned Schwartz's left guard spot.
  • Offensive lineman James Brewer remains out with a back injury, which could damage his chances of making the 53-man roster. Brewer was on the bubble to begin with.
  • Return specialist Trindon Holliday also sat out of practice with a hamstring injury. Holliday did some individual work Sunday but did not appear to work at all Monday. With Holliday and Beckham both sidelined, the Giants are hurting at punt returner and may keep wide receiver Preston Parker because has experience in that role.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Two days after losing left guard Geoff Schwartz to a toe injury, the New York Giants practiced Sunday without starting right guard Brandon Mosley.

"His back tightened up," Giants coach Tom Coughlin explained after practice. "He came out here ready to go, but then he couldn't."

As a result, John Jerry worked at right guard with the first-team offensive line while Weston Richburg, the most likely long-term replacement for Schwartz, worked at left guard. The Giants have major problems in this area, as detailed here earlier Sunday. Coughlin offered no insight on how long Mosley could be expected to be out.

Some other notes from Coughlin and Sunday's practice:
  • From the My God This Could Be Even Worse Than We Think Department: Coughlin was asked what he thought of left tackle Will Beatty's performance Friday and he said Beatty was working very hard every day in practice. Asked if he was happy with Beatty's work since returning from his injury, Coughlin said this: "'Happy' and 'satisfied' are not the words I would use to describe it, but I do recognize the progress and I do recognize that he's working hard at his trade." All righty, then.
  • Matter of fact, let's just keep profiling Coughlin quotes. This one on rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed yet another practice with a hamstring injury: "I would like to see the young man practice before we start talking about him playing in the regular season. That would be a good thing."
  • Running back Peyton Hillis returned to practice after missing a couple of weeks with an ankle injury, and Coughlin described him as "rusty." Return man Trindon Holliday also did some work in punt return and individual drills but remains hobbled a bit by his own hamstring problems. Cornerback Prince Amukamara worked on the side with trainers as he continues to deal with a groin injury.
  • Yes, Ryan Nassib did work some at quarterback with the first-team offense in Sunday's practice. No, there's obviously no chance they're considering any kind of change. Nassib is certainly going to get a lot more work in Thursday night's preseason finale than Eli Manning is, and that's why he's practicing more this week. The third-teamers spent more time on the field Sunday than the first-teamers did for similar reasons.

Giants have a problem at guard

August, 24, 2014
Aug 24
2:30
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In an offseason in which fixing the offensive line was the New York Giants' clear No. 1 priority, Geoff Schwartz was their first call.

They targeted Schwartz early and signed him as soon as free agency began. They viewed him not as a cure-all but as a foundation piece -- a reliable veteran whose presence at left guard would help make the rest of their line problems easier to solve.

So while injuries happen and you can't fault the Giants if Schwartz's toe injury keeps him out for a significant period of time, it is a major problem for them, and they may struggle more than you think to solve it.

Schwartz
 The "next man up," to borrow from strained NFL parlance, is rookie Weston Richburg, a second-round pick who played center in college but has been working throughout camp at guard behind Schwartz and Brandon Mosley. Richburg obviously has talent. There was some thought when he was drafted that he might be a better option at center than current projected starter J.D. Walton. But he's also a rookie, and even he admits he's not where he'd like to be at this point in his development.

"Oh, no," Richburg said Sunday morning. "If you're content with how you're playing, I think you're cheating yourself. I always want to get better. I made some mistakes in the last game that I know I need to correct."

He may have no choice but to correct them on the fly. The Giants don't like to lean on rookies as starters, but they showed last season with right tackle Justin Pugh that they will if they have no other choice. Pugh played well enough as a 16-game rookie starter that it worked out. Problem is, there's no guarantee that it will work out again. Even if Richburg is an eventual Pro Bowler, no one can be sure he'll develop as quickly as Pugh did.

"What I'm doing best right now is having a short memory," Richburg said. "If I make a mistake, just clap it off and go on to the next play and not let it affect me. I think I'm doing a good job of forgetting about it and just playing fast and continuing."

Great, but the issue is that the understandable rookie mistakes are happening, and that mistakes on the offensive line are hazardous to the health and effectiveness of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. This wouldn't be as serious a concern if left guard were the only spot at which there was concern. But the Giants have had pass-protection issues with Walton, Mosley and left tackle Will Beatty this preseason as well. Adding a still-green Richburg to the starting mix leaves Pugh as the surest commodity, and even he is a second-year player whose growing pains likely aren't all the way behind him. There are still talent evaluators around the league who view Pugh as a guard playing out of position and think the Giants' line will be better once he's moved inside, but at this point they don't have any better options at tackle.

No, the issue here continues to be depth, and that's a failing of the organization's offseason. They brought in John Jerry on the premise that he'd be a quality veteran backup should something happen at guard, yet after Chris Snee retired and Schwartz got hurt Jerry remains in a backup role while Richburg and Mosley line up with the starters. Charles Brown, signed as the veteran depth at tackle, played terribly in relief of Beatty early and is now hurt, which has resulted in Pugh having to take some left tackle snaps in practice with Mosley moved out to right tackle. Reserve guard/center Eric Herman is suspended for four games, and reserve guard/tackle James Brewer is hurt.

It's thin, folks, and it's still very thin at the interior positions that were supposed to be upgraded this year. There's a lot of book from last year on how easy and effective it is to pressure Manning from the A-gap, and if the Giants don't get things figured out in there, defenses aren't going to need to alter last year's plan very much to beat them. After all the work that was done in the offseason, the Giants' biggest 2014 problem may end up being exactly the same as the one that sunk them in 2013.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' struggling offensive line lost a key piece in the first half of Friday night's preseason game when left guard Geoff Schwartz was carted off the field with a toe injury.

The Giants later announced that Schwartz had a dislocated toe, which is relatively good news considering the other possibilities that seemed to exist when he was carted off in obvious pain. It's unclear how much time he'll have to miss, but a fracture would have been more significant and potentially devastating to an offensive line that's already having a terrible time in pass protection.

Rookie Weston Richburg replaced Schwartz at left guard with the first-team offense and would be the most likely candidate to fill in if Schwartz misses any time.

Also injured in Friday's game for the Giants were defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (lower leg), wide receiver Marcus Harris (shoulder) and cornerback Zack Bowman (triceps). Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also came out of the game briefly with an apparent knee injury but did return to the field.

We hope to have further updates on all of these injuries for you after the game ends.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For all of the very legitimate concern over the condition of Odell Beckham Jr.'s hamstring, the more pressing matter for the New York Giants with the season coming up quickly now is the state of the offensive line. The regular season begins in less than three weeks, and the Giants are still searching for the right starting-five combination of offensive linemen.

What's worse, the preseason has given them some reason to question whether they really are deeper on the line than they were during last season's meltdown.

The first-team line for Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis was Will Beatty at left tackle, Geoff Schwartz at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Brandon Mosley at right guard and Justin Pugh at right tackle. That's what it's been in practice since training camp started, and I think the Giants' ideal plan would be to feel good enough about that line to run it out there Week 1 in Detroit.

Problem is, Mosley has been inconsistent, Schwartz struggled a bit Saturday and Beatty's still recovering from (A) a broken leg and (B) a poor season, so they can't know what they have with him yet. He still needs to take practice reps off, and he did again Tuesday.

Now, the fill-in for Beatty earlier in camp was veteran Charles Brown, but he's got a shoulder injury now and was playing poorly even when healthy. With backup tackle James Brewer also hurt, the Giants tried something interesting Tuesday when Beatty had to come off the field. They moved Pugh from right tackle to left tackle, kicked Mosley out to right tackle and put rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg at right guard.

"They're all playing pretty much everywhere," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "You always attempt to be creative and flexible."

The goal is to find the best combination of five and let it play and jell together. But it seems clear at this point that the Giants don't feel they've done that yet. They could elevate Richburg, who's played both guard spots and center this camp, to starting guard in place of Mosley and put him and Schwartz on either side, really. If they ended up having to move Pugh to left tackle, they could play Schwartz at right tackle, where he has some experience, and keep Mosley and Richburg as the guards. Richburg could yet overtake Walton at center, which is the position he played in college.

What's disappointing, after a year in which they scrambled for depth on the line, is the backup situation. Brown was terrible at left tackle, and John Jerry has been a non-factor so far at guard. These were the veterans the Giants signed with the hope that they'd have more experience behind the starters this year than they did last year. Brewer hasn't developed and is on the roster bubble. Promising guard/center Eric Herman is suspended for the first four games of the season for a drug violation. Injuries to starters on the offensive line have a chance to put the Giants right back where they were when it all fell apart early last season. And in case you don't remember, that wasn't good.

Some other thoughts from Tuesday's practice:
  • This was a "cards" day, with time spent in preparation for Friday's preseason opponent, the Jets, specifically. So for much of practice, for example, the Giants' offense was running Jets plays. Eli Manning in the pistol, etc. And there were times when it was the defense's job to simulate Rex Ryan's exotic blitz schemes. This is the one preseason game for which the Giants devise a game plan, and it'll be interesting to see whether that helps the first-team offense look better.
  • Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard managed to tip and pick off a Manning pass in 7-on-7 drills while the defense was in a Jets-specific look. He's a fun player to watch in practice, though the special-teams coaches continue to work with him on technique on the coverage teams.
  • The Giants have tried the past couple of days to get Mario Manningham more looks on the outside at wide receiver to evaluate him and his balky knee. He does not seem to be performing at a high level. You wonder whether they will start using Victor Cruz outside more if they're not going to have Beckham to start the season, or whether they'll leave Cruz in the slot and use someone like Marcus Harris or Corey Washington on the outside.
The expectation has been that Eli Manning and the New York Giants' starters would play one more preseason game -- this week against the Jets -- and sit out the preseason finale against the Patriots. That's the way teams tend to do things, and it's the way the Giants have done things in the recent past.

But the Giants' first-team offense has looked so bad so far this preseason that coach Tom Coughlin says it shouldn't assume it's getting that final preseason game off. Basically, he's challenging his first-teamers to show something this week.

[+] EnlargeTom Coughlin
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesIn regards to not playing his starters, New York giants coach Tom Coughlin said "it's not written in stone about what you do in that last preseason game."
"They'd better," Coughlin said in his Sunday conference call. "Because it's not written in stone about what you do in that last preseason game."

Recall that the reason Coughlin put then-co-starting running back Andre Brown in the preseason finale last year in New England was because he didn't think Brown had played well enough and he wanted to see more from him. Brown broke his leg in that game and missed the first half of the season as a result, but that doesn't mean Coughlin won't run guys out there if he doesn't think they've played well enough to start the season.

As he had Saturday night, Coughlin praised the effort his second-team and third-team players made to score 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to come back and win their preseason game against the Colts in Indianapolis. But there's no disguising the concern Coughlin feels about the way his starters performed en route to a 20-0 halftime deficit.

"Anytime you set up a schedule in the preseason, you expect to be at certain points along the way," Coughlin said. "So, certainly, it's disappointing not to be at least a little bit more advanced than we are."

The Giants hired a new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, and have spent much of the offseason installing and learning a new offense. But it hasn't come together yet in practice or, obviously, in the games. Manning is 7-for-16 for 49 yards in the Giants' three preseason games and just 1-for-9 in the last two. It's entirely possible, with three weeks left until the start of the regular season, that the Giants' new offense will enter the season with more learning still to do.

"I don't know that there's any way to put it but that," Coughlin said. "The last few years, we've had what would have to be looked at as unproductive games in preseasons and we've still been able to come out and perform early on in regular seasons. But is it a concern? Yes it is."

In other news from Coughlin's day-after conference call with reporters:

  • Rookie Weston Richburg saw more time with the first-team offensive line Saturday and remains a candidate to start at right guard, where Brandon Mosley has taken the bulk of the first-team reps since Chris Snee retired. Coughlin pointed out that Richburg has played right guard, center and left guard in these games, so I guess you have to say he's also a candidate to start at center ahead of J.D. Walton. "Just because five guys trot out there doesn't mean that's the starting unit," Coughlin said. "It's a work in progress and we're trying like heck to speed that up, but we have to make sure we're looking at all the possibilities."
  • Ryan Nassib led the fourth-quarter comeback and could reclaim the No. 2 quarterback spot from Curtis Painter this week, though Coughlin also pointed out that the rally got started with Painter under center.
  • Backup safety Cooper Taylor suffered a serious toe injury and could end up on injured reserve as a result. Coughlin said it was a sesamoid bone injury that would require "quite a bit of time" to heal.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara was scheduled for an MRI on his injured groin and could have to miss some practice time. Unclear at this point whether the start of the regular season is at issue, but from what I understand the team is not overly concerned about Amukamara's injury.
  • Backup tackle Charles Brown has a shoulder injury and could miss some time. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn hyperextended his elbow in the game, but Coughlin said Kuhn "for sure can deal with that."

Giants Camp Report: Day 12

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
8:10
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Let's get the nightly interception rundown out of the way first. Zack Bowman intercepted Curtis Painter, Charles James intercepted Eli Manning and Bowman intercepted Ryan Nassib in the end zone. Chandler Fenner almost got a pick for the second night in a row, but Corey Washington turned into a defensive back and knocked it away from him at the last second. The secondary is ahead of the offense, is the basic point here.
  • The star of the secondary is Walter Thurmond, though. He came on a corner blitz and got to Andre Williams in the backfield on one play. And while they love him as the nickel corner, Thurmond got a lot of work on the outside Thursday night as well, staying on the field with the first-team base defense while Prince Amukamara or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took a break.
  • Left guard Geoff Schwartz returned to practice, but his left knee is obviously bugging him and he didn't take many reps. Weston Richburg got most of the snaps at first-team left guard. Charles Brown took most of the first-team left tackle snaps, but not because of any fresh injury to Will Beatty. It's just that Beatty isn't playing Saturday and Brown is.
  • I watched running back pass-catching drills. The most natural pass-catchers in the group are Rashad Jennings and fullback Henry Hynoski. Rookie Andre Williams seems to be doing a bit better job catching the ball in his hands (as opposed to against his body), but it's a work in progress.
  • The tight ends still look bad catching the ball, other than Larry Donnell. Adrien Robinson had a bad drop. Kellen Davis caught a ball awkwardly near the sideline and stepped right out of bounds even though there was no one near him. Some of the players not in on that play groaned a bit.
  • Marcus Harris made two nice catches, including one jumping at the goal line to corral a touchdown pass from Nassib.
  • I'm always fascinated to see who stays after practice for extra work. Charles James, Preston Parker, Harris and Jayron Hosley stayed to work on punt returns a bit more. Cooper Taylor was off to the side with a blocking sled, presumably honing that punt-protection technique. Amukamara and Rodgers-Cromartie stayed late for the third night in a row so Amukamara could work on jumping for interceptions. And all three quarterbacks, including Manning, stuck around to practice taking shotgun snaps from all three centers.
  • The Jets were playing a home preseason game across the parking lot at MetLife Stadium that kicked off about an hour and 20 minutes into Giants practice. During Giants practice, some (presumably Jets) fans kept driving by on Paterson Plank Road and hollering insults at the Giants. None were printable, sorry.
  • The Giants are off Friday in advance of Saturday night's preseason game against the Steelers at MetLife Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We got to talk to New York Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty on Friday, and it was excellent. He told us a story about how his father taught him to play center by having him practice in front of a huge oak tree that he'd have to jump up and hit every time he snapped the ball. It was horrifying and awesome all at the same time. I would like to talk to Pat Flaherty every day if possible, but it's not, so we enjoy what we get.

Also, I know most of you would rather hear about what is going on with the New York Giants' offensive line than what Flaherty did to that oak tree (or what that oak tree did to him). So here's a spot-by-spot breakdown of some stuff Flaherty said Friday:

Left tackle

Beatty
Beatty
Will Beatty has practiced a lot more than anyone expected he would coming off the broken leg he suffered in Week 17 last season. Beatty also has a bit more of an edge to him when he talks to you this summer. Not a ton, mind you. He's still mild-mannered Will. But he definitely seems extra motivated to get back out on the field and show what he can do. And the coaches have noticed.

"Will Beatty's working, and anytime you're at work playing football and putting the pads on, you're going to get better," Flaherty said. "The thing we don't have to have happen is regression with his rehab, but he's handling both things very well, as expected. He's got a ways to go, but he's progressing more now than he would by standing on the sidelines talking to me."

Beatty is coming off not just a broken leg but a rotten 2013 season in general. He signed a long-term contract extension with the team prior to last season and admitted late in the season that the pressure of it affected him.

Schwartz
"He's not that player," Flaherty said of the 2013 version of Beatty. "That starts with me coaching. To be able to coach somebody, he has to be out there on the practice field. If he's not out there practicing the day-to-day drills, then that sets him back and affects your technique on Sundays. Your flaws get magnified. That's what happend last year. This year, we'll see. He's attacking and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Left guard

Geoff Schwartz is a proud, beaming father who misses his newborn baby but looks forward to seeing him again when the family comes to town following the Aug. 3 Hall of Fame Game. The free-agent signee projects as one of the few sure things on this line. Flaherty didn't address him to any significant extent during his news conference.

Center

Walton
J.D. Walton is getting the first-team snaps ahead of rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg, and the sense I get is that the Giants are happy with Walton so far. The center is tasked with more responsibility in the new offense this year in terms of making the protection calls, and Walton told me it's been the toughest thing for him to learn. But Flaherty seems to think he's made a breakthrough. Walton missed the past two seasons with an ankle injury, and Flaherty was asked whether Walton was still shaking off rust.

"If he was rusty, I think he's had some WD-40, because he's out there greasing pretty good, each and every day," Flaherty said. "Was there mental rust? Was there physical rust? Probably. But I don't see rust anymore. He just has to go out and play. He's excited about the opportunity."

So is Richburg, who has been working at both center and right guard but is a rookie. The Giants think he's great, and drafted him in large part because of their belief that he could handle the center's responsibility in their new offense. But 2013 Justin Pugh notwithstanding, they don't rush rookies here.

"If and when Weston continues to develop, he's going to be a very good offensive lineman," Flaherty said. "But he's got to get in there and grow into that position. There's a sense of urgency about being able to grow into a position, and the only way you're going to be able to do that is if you have an opportunity to play."

Hence, all of the extra reps for the rookie at two positions. If Richburg dazzles the Giants at both, he improves his chances of winning one of the two starting spots.

Right guard

Mosley
With Chris Snee having retired Monday, this is wide open. Flaherty is a fan of John Jerry, but Jerry is still quite limited as he works his way back from knee surgery. So Brandon Mosley has been running with the first team at right guard.

"He has to be consistent," Flaherty said. "Somewhere in your career as a player, you have to get off the waves, and that's the point he's at. There will always be peaks and valleys, but you need to have more peaks than valleys. You have to be consistent as an offensive lineman. (Thursday) I saw more consistency. Those guys are pretty good that we're blocking in practice -- Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins. They're as good as there are in the league, and that's a great challenge for a guy like Brandon Mosley."

Guys like Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the defensive tackles who await the Giants in Week 1 in Detroit, might dispute Flaherty's assessment. But if Mosley takes advantage of his opportunity, he could get a shot at those guys Sept. 8.

Right tackle

Pugh
After starting 16 games as a rookie in 2013, Pugh projects as the starter at right tackle once again. Flaherty says he's told Pugh that he believes he wasn't 100 percent physically last season and that he needed to get into the weight room and hit it hard this offseason. Pugh apparently took that advice.

"It started in the weight room," Flaherty said. "His approach these past few months, starting back in February, has been a difference. I saw it for the first time when he came back. He was stronger. He weighs more, but more importantly he's stronger. And what he has between his ears in terms of wanting to be good, that's always going to be there. He wants to be the best at his position."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- See now, this is what I'm talking about. The New York Giants just handed out a depth chart here in the media room. And while the nice gentleman who handed it out kept saying, "Officially unofficial," and while it's only July 24, I see no reason why we can't pick through it and overreact to what's on it, do you?

No? I didn't think so. Good. Let's go.

[+] EnlargeAdrien Robinson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsAdrien Robinson is buried on the Giants' initial training camp depth chart.
First thing that jumps out is that Larry Donnell is listed as the starting tight end. That's not as surprising as the fact that Adrien Robinson is listed as the No. 5 tight end, behind Donnell, Daniel Fells, Xavier Grimble and Kellen Davis. That seems like a message from the coaching staff about Robinson's progress, and it's somewhat shocking considering that Robinson and Donnell have been the guys most mentioned when the organization has talked about expecting its young tight ends to step up.

The thing to remember, of course, is that the only place Robinson has ever been an effective pass-catching tight end is in Jerry Reese's imagination. Robinson caught a total of 29 passes in four years of college football at Cincinnati and didn't catch one in either of his first two NFL seasons. He's a blocking tight end, if anything, but Reese drafted him thinking he had the physical gifts to become a good NFL tight end. It's still possible he turns out to be correct, but to this point there's no evidence to support it.

The Giants' starting tight end job remains wide, wide, wide open and could conceivably still go to someone who's not yet on the team. But it's stunning to see Robinson listed all the way at the back of the depth chart when there was an assumption that he could get the first crack at it.

Elsewhere on this gilded document:
New York GiantsAl Bello/Getty ImagesAfter a disastrous 2013 season for the Giants offensive line, did the team do enough in the offseason to upgrade?
The New York Giants will arrive at the gates of the 2014 season as great an unknown as any team in the league. An offseason of change has brought a new offensive coordinator and a dozen new starters. And while there's little doubt that change and rosterwide upgrades were needed after last season's 7-9 flop, the amount of change the Giants have undergone brings with it a flurry of questions.

By this point in the offseason, those questions have grown familiar: Can Eli Manning bounce back from the worst season of his career? What will the new offense look like? Can young receivers Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. make a major 2014 impact? How will the running back rotation shake out? Who in the heck is going to play tight end? Is there enough leadership left in the locker room? Can Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff get it all to mesh together in such a short period of time?

All good, important, worthwhile questions. But I'd argue that not one of them matters nearly as much as this one:

Did the Giants do enough to fix their offensive line?

Tell me the 2013 Giants had a lot of problems and I won't say you're wrong. I was there for all 16 games. They were awful. Much worse, I believe, than their final 7-9 record would indicate. But there's no question that, of their myriad problems, the offensive line was the biggest and most devastating. Everything else can be traced to the meltdown on the line.

Sure, David Wilson was an early-season fumbler and he and Andre Brown got hurt. But even if he'd held onto the ball and they'd stayed healthy, there were no holes for Giants backs to run through unless they were playing the Bears or the Raiders. Flanking Jim Cordle with Kevin Boothe and 2013 David Diehl is no way to push the pile.

And, yeah, you can argue that part of Manning's job is to overcome adversity and raise the level of play of those around him. But even the best quarterbacks need at least some time to do that stuff, and Manning's pass protection was cripplingly bad last year. The Carolina Panthers sacked him six times in the first 17 minutes of the Week 3 loss in Charlotte. It's easy for you and me to say a guy should do more to rise above his circumstances. It's quite another to actually do it when your circumstances include defensive linemen running next to you during your drops.

The point is that the biggest and most important of the Giants' 2014 unknowns is that offensive line, which still has legitimate question marks at all five positions. To wit:

Left tackle: Even before breaking his leg in the season finale, Will Beatty was having a bad enough season that he was soul-searching in December. Beatty has got to get right physically and mentally if he's to justify his contract and keep Manning from playing legitimately scared again all season.

[+] EnlargeGeoff Schwartz
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants added former Chief Geoff Schwartz to take over the left guard spot.
Left guard: Upgrading from Boothe to Geoff Schwartz in free agency was a solid move, and Schwartz should be fine. The only reason he's a question mark is that he's new and people don't always do well in new surroundings. There's nothing about Schwartz specifically to engender concern, but until we know for sure ...

Center: Is it J.D. Walton, who hasn't played in two years because of an ankle injury? Is it second-round pick Weston Richburg, who's a rookie? Regardless of which is the answer, will it be good enough? The player at center has more responsibility in this new offense than he did in the old one, and Manning has no prior relationship with either of these guys.

Right guard: Chris Snee is back, and he says he feels great. The question here is whether his surgically repaired hips will allow him to last and play with the same fierceness that characterized the prime of his career. If Snee is what he used to be, this could be the key to the whole line. If he struggles, then they have the same problem they had last year, except with John Jerry as the fallback plan instead of Diehl.

Right tackle: Justin Pugh played well for a rookie and offered reason for hope. He says his footwork improved as the season went on, and the Giants' hope is that he continues to make the necessary improvements. If he has a sophomore slump, that brings up a fresh question mark on which they aren't currently counting.

You can make the argument that this year's starting group looks more talented than the one with which the Giants started the 2013 season -- especially if this year's version of Snee is healthy, which last year's was not. But what remains to be seen is how they'll play together and how they'll all hold up. More than any other item on the Giants' list of offseason questions, the answer to this one will determine how much the team can improve over last season.
We get to watch the New York Giants' OTA practice Thursday, but they had one Wednesday, and the team's official website has a report on some of what happened there. You can read the whole thing here, but here are some of the more noteworthy items:

David Wilson was practicing. Wilson still hasn't been cleared for contact, as far as we know, following last season's neck surgery. The Giants have said they are optimistic that he will be, but they've also said they have to prepare as though he won't be, just in case. But it has to be taken as a good sign that he's working in these late-May non-contact drills. Giants.com reports that Wilson worked as a running back and a return man Wednesday.

Eli Manning was practicing. As we discussed earlier. The Giants' team site reports that Manning "put in a full day" and took first-team snaps.

The offensive line alignment. Apparently, the first-team offensive line was, from left tackle to right, James Brewer, Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Chris Snee and Justin Pugh. No surprise that Walton, who signed before Weston Richburg was drafted and has been practicing in the new offense longer, gets first crack at starting center. But there will be a camp battle there. Mild surprise that Brewer and not Charles Brown was the starting left tackle in place of rehabbing Will Beatty. Richburg worked at right tackle with the second-string offensive line, next to Dallas Reynolds at center. But make no mistake, the Giants used an early second-round pick on Richburg because they liked him at center. And while they'd like to know whether they can count on him as guard insurance, center is the position at which they plan to use him.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider