Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Looks like Justin Pugh will get his shot
By Dan Graziano
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Andy Ross, who is the agent for New York Giants first-round draft pick Justin Pugh, tweeted the following early Tuesday afternoon:
Which is obviously interesting, though obviously somewhat incomplete. Tom Coughlin will surely be asked about this after practice, but the possibilities include:
1. That Pugh has been named the new starting right tackle, over veteran David Diehl.
2. That, due to the injury to center David Baas, the Giants are going to move Kevin Boothe from left guard to center, move Diehl inside to play guard and give Pugh a shot to see what he can do at right tackle in the coming days and/or weeks.
3. That Diehl, who has a cast on his right hand, is also going to have to miss time.
My feeling is that No. 2 is the most likely, since the Giants have strongly backed Diehl as the starting right tackle all offseason and Pugh seems to be on more of a developmental track. But we will see what they say. The players either didn't know anything or played dumb in the morning interview period, with Pugh saying he'd "love an opportunity to go out there and compete" and Diehl saying "of course" he'd willingly play a different position if asked.
"I've always been a team guy first," Diehl said. "I've always been a guy who took pride in my versatility, and if they want me to play there, they know I can."
Now, obviously, if the new arrangement is Pugh at tackle, Boothe at center and Diehl at guard, it provides Pugh with a chance to claim the starting right tackle spot for himself and not let it go. But as I mentioned, Pugh may not be all the way ready yet. He did miss practice time in camp due to a concussion, and the Giants don't rush their first-round picks into starting roles before they're ready. But there are always exceptions, and Diehl's struggles Sunday night in pass protection along with Baas' injury could offer Pugh a chance to prove that he is one.
Not sure what to expect from Pugh if they do go with him as the starting right tackle. The Giants drafted him because they believed he could play anywhere on the line and they weren't sure what their line needs were going to be in 2014 and beyond. Prior to the draft, most of what I heard about Pugh was that he profiled better as a guard at the NFL level. So it's possible he'll struggle.
And say what you want about Diehl (and clearly, none of you need my permission for that), but if you're a Giants fan you have to admit his bit about being a team-first guy and willing to do anything to help is legit. He's played pretty much every position on the line during his time in New York, has helped train replacements and has never complained when moved around or benched or anything. A benching or a position change at this point would be damaging to Diehl, who's playing for a contract this year. But if that's what's going on, I'd be shocked if he didn't handle it with the kind of class and team-first attitude he's always shown.