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Left tackles can breathe a little easier

8/24/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Osi Umenyiora's season-ending knee injury delivers a significant blow to a Giants defense already without the recently retired Michael Strahan.

NFC West left tackles Orlando Pace, Walter Jones, Joe Staley and Mike Gandy won't have to worry about Umenyiora this season. A look at the NFC West's matchups with the Giants in 2008:

  • Sept. 14, Giants at Rams: Pace is still rounding into form. Drawing Umenyiora this early in the season would have been a potentially rough matchup.

  • Oct. 5, Seahawks at Giants: Umenyiora beat Jones a couple times in obvious passing situations late in the first half of their matchup at Qwest Field in 2005. Those sacks drew plenty of headlines because Jones rarely allows them. The matchup would have been tougher for Jones at Giants Stadium.

  • Oct. 19, 49ers at Giants: Staley is entering his first full season as an NFL left tackle. Umenyiora would have been favored in this one, particularly with crowd noise on his side and the 49ers possibly playing from behind.

  • Nov. 23, Giants at Cardinals: Gandy, who signed with Arizona last season after two years in Buffalo, has never matched up against Umenyiora in a regular-season game.

Opposing offenses had a hard time accouting for both Strahan and Umenyiora. Double-teaming both would have limited the offense in other ways.

Umenyiora was already facing a new challenge without Strahan attracting attention on the other side. He had 13 sacks last season. Strahan had nine. Justin Tuck had 10. If Tuck remains on the left side, he'll match up against NFC West right tackles Alex Barron (Rams), Sean Locklear (Seahawks), Jonas Jennings (49ers) and Levi Brown (Cardinals).