NFL Nation: James Brewer

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.
The New York Giants don't like to build their team through free agency, so the fact that they have signed 19 free agents in the past two weeks indicates they have felt they had little choice. Theirs was a roster in such an extensive state of disrepair that they had to go out and apply as many free-agent band-aids as possible. No way the draft was going to fix all of their immediate needs. No one has enough picks for that.

The signing Friday of John Jerry, one of the former Dolphins offensive linemen who was implicated in the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying scandal last month, is an indication of just how difficult things get when you have to be as active in free agency as the Giants have.

Jerry
Time was, the Giants would have steered way clear of anyone involved in what happened in Miami because they don't need the issues that could arise from inviting potential discord into their locker room, and they had other options for filling whatever hole they were trying to fill. But right now, with cap space dwindling and significant needs still looming with the pass rush and passing offense, the Giants are on the lookout for bargains. And in large part because of what happened last year in Miami, Jerry comes at a bargain price.

Our man Adam Caplan reports that Jerry's deal is for one year and $770,000, with only $25,000 guaranteed. That makes this a no-risk signing for the Giants from a financial standpoint. He'll come in and compete for a roster spot with guys like James Brewer and Brandon Mosley, and if he makes it he could be a useful backup at several positions or even a potential starter if Chris Snee can't answer the bell. Jerry is 27, turning 28 this summer like almost every other free agent they've signed, so he fits the age profile to which they have tried very hard to adhere. (The only player they've signed who is over 30 is kicker Josh Brown.) There are reasons the Giants can convince themselves Jerry makes sense for them, but if he had cost any more to sign than he did, they likely couldn't have brought him in.

This is a tough game the Giants are playing, and it's one in which they are justifiably uncomfortable. There is no way to sign 19 or more free agents and expect them to all work out for you. At best, they are going to end up hitting on maybe half of these signings and have to address the holes left over from the misses again a year from now. Free agency is an imperfect science, fraught with imperfect solutions to larger problems. That is the state of the Giants right now, and the fact that they had to go out and sign someone like Jerry from the pool of backup guards because the Raiders signed Kevin Boothe illustrates it as well as anything yet has.

Cruz, nine others miss Giants practice

December, 18, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- As New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin walked to the podium for his regular Wednesday news conference, someone mentioned something to him about the roster.

Cruz
"What roster?" Coughlin joked, before reading a list of 10 players who would not practice Wednesday due to injuries.

The biggest name on the list is wide receiver Victor Cruz, who left Sunday's game with a concussion and a knee sprain. Coughlin said Cruz was going through the league-mandated concussion protocol but that the knee injury "will probably prevent him from doing anything." It does not sound as though Cruz can be expected to play Sunday in Detroit.

Cruz's backup at slot receiver, Jerrell Jernigan, also wasn't practicing, as he has a knee injury. Coughlin said he was "inspired" by the toughness Jernigan showed when thrown into Sunday's game as Cruz's replacement. The Giants put cornerback Corey Webster on injured reserve Tuesday so they could elevate wide receiver Julian Talley from the practice squad due to the numbers problem at that position.

Guards James Brewer (ankle) and David Diehl (knee) are missing practice Wednesday, which is another potential issue as both are currently starters. Brandon Mosley replaced Brewer in Sunday's game, but they'd have to use someone else (Stephen Goodin? Dallas Reynolds?) at right guard if Diehl were to miss the game Sunday.

Cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Trumaine McBride and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins are out with knee, groin and shin/quad injuries, but all three missed practice last Wednesday and still played Sunday. Running back Peyton Hillis is missing practice due to his concussion. Safety Cooper Taylor missed Sunday's game with a severe hamstring injury and remains out.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also remains out with the shoulder injury that has kept him out of the last three games.

Coughlin said he would have to adjust the way the team practices since only 43 members of the roster were able to work. He said the teaching portion of practice would be the same but that the "speed work" would be cut in half due to lack of numbers. Coughlin also said he hoped to have three or four from that group of 10 back at practice Thursday, though he couldn't say which specific three or four offered the most hope.

"Whoever comes through the door," Coughlin said, "we'll be happy to have them."

Injury update: Jenkins in walking boot

September, 30, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins was wearing a protective walking boot on his lower right leg Monday in the Giants locker room, a day after the team's 31-7 loss to the Chiefs.

When asked to describe the injury, Jenkins said, "I think just a little tendon something, knee and Achilles. ... Hopefully like I said, just a couple days, get this thing treated, and get back going."

Head coach Tom Coughlin did not have further updates yet on the other players injured against the Chiefs. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) and cornerbacks Aaron Ross (back) and Jayron Hosley (hamstring) all left the game early and did not return, plus linebacker Mark Herzlich was wearing a walking boot after the game due to a toe injury.

The same goes for starting center David Baas (neck) and right guard Chris Snee (hip), who sat out Sunday's game. "I’m waiting to hear on those kinds of things," Coughlin said. "The treatment is being conducted today as usual. We’ll see."

Jim Cordle and James Brewer started for Snee and Baas, respectively. Cordle was making his first NFL regular-season start, while Brewer was making his second.

"They played against a very good front and, for the most part, they did a good job," Coughlin said. "We did have a holding penalty up there and there were some occasions where we could have obviously done a better job or finished a block better than we did. They scrapped and I was pleased with what they accomplished. I wish obviously, it would have been perfect, but they did OK."
KANSAS CITY -- No big surprises on the New York Giants' inactives list for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Four of the seven -- cornerback Corey Webster, center David Baas, right guard Chris Snee and tight end Adrien Robinson -- had already been ruled out for the game and didn't fly here with the team.

The other three inactives are third quarterback Ryan Nassib, rookie defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (who has been inactive for all four games so far) and safety Cooper Taylor, who suffered a shoulder injury last week in Carolina. Without Taylor, the only two active safeties for the Giants this week are starters Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy.

It's possible that cornerback Terrell Thomas could work some at safety if they need him to. He has said he knows the plays and has some experience there. The Giants have been using Thomas as a nickel cornerback this year, but the need for that position may not be as great in this game as it was against teams like the Cowboys and Broncos, who lean hard to three-receiver sets.

The Giants announced that Jim Cordle would get his first career NFL start as he replaces Baas at center. Cordle struggled in a preseason start at center against the Jets. James Brewer, who started at left guard in the season opener when Kevin Boothe slid over to play center, will start at right guard in place of Snee.

Veteran offensive lineman David Diehl, who missed the first three games of the season following thumb surgery, is active but is not listed as a starter. It's possible they could use Diehl as a second tight end in "big" short-yardage or goal-line packages, or that he's an emergency plan in case of an injury to one of the starting tackles, but it remains unclear to what extent he can help with his thumb still not fully healed and since he missed five weeks of practice prior to last week.

A lot of people ask about Hankins, who was the team's second-round pick. I don't think there's any reason other than the depth chart that he continues to be inactive for the games. The Giants have been happy with what Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson have done at the backup defensive tackle spots, and there's no need for them to carry five at that position on gameday. Hankins is still developing his technique and his lower-body strength, and the Giants can carry a developmental player at defensive tackle right now.

One bit of potential good news for the Giants is that Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers is inactive due to a knee injury, which should help the Giants' receivers get open down the field. Of course, many of you may remember that last week in Carolina, the Panthers were missing three members of their starting secondary and none of the Giants receivers had a chance to get open because Eli Manning was getting sacked immediately on every play.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants will need several backups to help them win their first game of the season.

The Giants will be without starters David Baas (neck), Chris Snee (hip) and Corey Webster against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

David Diehl is also listed as doubtful. He was able to practice on a limited basis this week so perhaps he will be able to make his season debut as he makes his way back from thumb surgery.

Jim Cordle could get the start at center against the Chiefs. If that happens, Kevin Boothe will remain at left guard and James Brewer will likely play right guard for Snee. The Giants could always slide Boothe to center and perhaps use Brandon Mosley at left guard.

Aaron Ross is expected to start for Webster. Safety Cooper Taylor (shoulder) and linebacker Jacquian Williams (knee) are questionable for Sunday but both practiced on a limited basis.

INJURY REPORT:

OUT
C David Baas (neck)
TE Adrien Robinson (foot)
G Chris Snee (hip)
CB Corey Webster (hip)

DOUBTFUL
T David Diehl (thumb, limited practice)

QUESTIONABLE
S Cooper Taylor (shoulder, limited practice)
LB Jacquian Williams (knee, limited practice)

PROBABLE
LB Spencer Paysinger (hip, limited practice)
CB Terrell Thomas (knee, limited practice)
DE Justin Trattou (ankle, limited practice)
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' offensive line got some good injury news Thursday. Its secondary did not.

Starting cornerback Prince Amukamara, who suffered a concussion Sunday night in the season opener in Dallas, still was not cleared to practice Thursday and is in danger of missing Sunday's home opener against the Denver Broncos. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that, if Amukamara is able to practice Friday and gets a full day of work in, he'd likely be OK to play Sunday. But Amukamara still needs to follow the NFL's concussion protocol and pass the appropriate tests before he's allowed to practice and/or play.

If Amukamara can't go, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said, it "would be a really big blow" to a Giants' defense that will need all the help it can get against Peyton Manning and the Broncos' passing attack. Aaron Ross would likely take Amukamara's place as the starting corner opposite Corey Webster, with Terrell Thomas manning the same slot cornerback role he played in Dallas and throughout the summer.

As for the line, center David Baas was listed as a "limited" participant in practice, but he said his injured knee is feeling much better and that he's planning to be able to play Sunday.

"My plan is to be out there," Baas said. "As long as everything keeps feeling good, I should be fine."

Baas sprained his knee in the preseason game against the Colts and hasn't played since. His return would allow Kevin Boothe to move back over to left guard and send James Brewer back to his reserve lineman role.

In other Giants injury news:
  • Linebacker Dan Connor remained out of practice with a neck injury and seems unlikely to play. That would elevate Mark Herzlich to starting middle linebacker leave the Giants with only four linebackers, which may be fine since they expect to be playing a lot of nickel defense anyway against the Broncos' three-receiver sets.
  • Running back Da'Rel Scott, who injured his knee in Wednesday's practice and had an MRI, was a full participant Thursday and appears fine.
  • Defensive end Damontre Moore, who's been dealing with a pesky shoulder injury and hasn't played since the first preseason game, was a limited participant in practice.
  • Tackle David Diehl (thumb) and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) did not practice and are not expected to play.

Practice report: Baas back

September, 11, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- David Baas appears to be nearing a return.

The Giants center was back on the field on Wednesday during the early portion of practice open to the media. The team will reveal later today how much Baas practiced when it releases its injury report. Baas has been out since the second preseason game after injuring his left MCL. He had been considered week-to-week following the injury.

Whenever Baas is cleared to play, Kevin Boothe can slide back to left guard from center. That would send James Brewer, who was at left guard with Boothe at center, back to being the extra offensive lineman.

While Baas is making his way back, middle linebacker Dan Connor (neck) was not seen on the field at the start of practice. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (concussion) did some running on the side and it appears he is getting better and could be cleared later this week.

Tackle David Diehl (thumb) and tight end Adrien Robinson (foot) also both did work on the side. Defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) was on the field working.

Also, in case you were wondering, Brandon Jacobs is wearing a new jersey number (looks very Bo Jacksonesque right?).

W2W4: Giants at Cowboys

September, 6, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –- The New York Giants have waited nine months to erase the sour taste of last season’s failed title defense.

On Sunday night, they finally get back on the field looking to find consistency and a chance to do something they didn’t do last season –- start off on the right foot against the Dallas Cowboys.

Here are five things to watch for:

JPP’s back: Will Jason Pierre-Paul play and, more important, will his surgically repaired back hold up? The defensive end says he is a game-time decision, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin says a decision will be made well in advance about the team’s best defensive player. Considering that JPP practiced all week on a limited basis, but did everything he was asked and is making the trip, the Giants should have Pierre-Paul on the field barring an unforeseen setback.

But if he plays, how effective will he be and how many snaps will he play? Will he start, or rotate in behind Mathias Kiwanuka? Having him on the field, even if on a situational basis, could make a big difference. Remember, JPP once practically beat Dallas by himself with two sacks, a safety, a forced fumble and the block of a potential overtime-forcing field goal in a 2011 victory.

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IITom Coughlin has likely already decided the status of Jason Pierre-Paul, who's played well in Dallas.
Big Blue got back: After finishing 31st overall in total defense last season, the Giants added a lot of beef on the front line. Or, as defensive coordinator Perry Fewell likes to say, “We’ve got bigger butts. … The butts are a lot bigger.”

Sir Mix-A-Lot would be proud. The Giants are hoping Cullen Jenkins', Linval Joseph's, Shaun Rogers', Johnathan Hankins' and Mike Patterson's big rear ends will help the defense be much stingier against the run than last season, and help spark the pass rush as well. Justin Tuck came into the season in terrific shape and is determined to perform in a contract year. Kiwanuka is back at his natural position and Jenkins will be used as an extra pass-rusher as well. The Giants’ front line has to have an impact on this game. Otherwise, the secondary could have another long night against Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Cruz and Nicks: Victor Cruz says his bruised heel is ready to go. Hakeem Nicks says he feels as good as he has in a long time. Quarterback Eli Manning will need his two star receivers to get back to doing their normal damage against the Cowboys. Last season, Nicks had only eight receptions for 84 yards in two games against Dallas while dealing with foot and knee injuries. And Cruz totaled just eight catches for 81 yards in two games against Dallas.

The Giants need more from those two and Rueben Randle against the Cowboys' secondary on Sunday night if they’re going to remain a perfect 5-0 at Jerry World. We’ll see how in tune Manning is with Cruz and Nicks after having their offseason and training-camp practice time repeatedly interrupted by injury and a contract negotiation.

Wilson’s revenge: A year ago, David Wilson fumbled the second carry of his pro career against the Cowboys -- and it cost him dearly, as he was locked in Coughlin’s doghouse for the next 11 games. On Sunday night, he’ll open his second NFL season with the role of starter and Giants feature back. With Andre Brown out for the first eight weeks, Wilson is the man. He has to stay healthy. He must protect Manning in pass situations. If he can do both, he’ll get his share of touches and opportunities to deliver big plays, starting against the Cowboys.

Front line: Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride isn’t sure if he will have to alter his game plan according to his offensive line. If all goes well, he won't. The Giants will have two inexperienced starters on the line in first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle and James Brewer at left guard. Left tackle Will Beatty, center Kevin Boothe and right guard Chris Snee will surround the two with plenty of experience. The Giants hope the revamped line will get the ground game going and keep Manning clean.

Shuffled Giants O-line preps for Ware

September, 4, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A year ago, left tackle Will Beatty was one of the main question marks on the New York Giants' offensive line. Now, he's its reliable constant. The right tackle's a rookie, the veteran right guard is coming off of hip surgery. The center was the left guard two weeks ago. The left guard was a backup tackle. Injuries and adjustments have thrown the Giants' offensive line into a state of uncertainty with the regular-season opener in Dallas just four days away. And while the Cowboys have their own injury issues in the defensive front, they also still have elite pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, who is on the Giants' minds.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsDeMarcus Ware has collected double-digit sacks each of the past seven seasons.
"You know what he can do. You know how he can destroy a team," Beatty said of Ware. "You've played him before, so he knows your mistakes and you know his, so it's all about how you're going to change what you did last time. He has his technique down pat, so he can focus on you. So you've got to make sure you're going to show him something different than you did the last time."

Beatty is likely to get a full game's worth of Ware, who's a 4-3 defensive end in the Cowboys' new defensive alignment and doesn't move around the formation the way he used to when he was a standup 3-4 outside linebacker. And while rookie right tackle Justin Pugh could get a break if the injured Anthony Spencer doesn't play, the interior lineman are prepared for a tough test from underrated defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. It's a lot for a group that has undergone significant change in the final few weeks of the preseason due to injuries to starting center David Baas and right tackle David Diehl.

"As a unit, we've done this before, moved guys around," Beatty said. "You've just got to know the guy who's playing beside you."

James Brewer is that guy for Beatty now, a converted tackle being asked to play left guard while Kevin Boothe moves over to center to take Baas' place. It's a position Brewer hadn't played before last week's preseason game, and he may be benefiting from a change Beatty made this offseason.

"Will's taken on more of a leadership role, out on the field and in the meetings, than he used to have," veteran right guard Chris Snee said. "It's good to see. Where it used to be me or Diehl or guys like Shaun O'Hara who used to do most of the talking, he's really taken over that role, which I think he has to. He'll be here for years, so he's got to be that guy."

Beatty signed a five-year contract this offseason as the Giants made what coach Tom Coughlin described as "quite a statement" that he's their left tackle of the future. Understanding the significance of that statement, and of his role in the most prominent position on the line, Beatty made a conscious decision to take on a veteran's role this season.

"Every year I've come in here feeling like I had to win the spot," Beatty said. "And this year, it's still the same, but you feel like you have to show a little bit more, I think. I don't want to say it's because of the money, because it's not, but you're older now. You bring guys along with you. You should know what the coaches want you to do by now, so your job is to show the young guys."

The youngest plays all the way on the other side of the offensive line, and rookie Justin Pugh expects to "feel like you're going to throw up" before his first NFL game. Pugh's pregame ritual at Syracuse included being the last player out of the locker room and onto the field for the game. He doesn't know whether he'll be able to dictate his routine to that extent as an NFL rookie, but he's confident he's ready for whatever the Cowboys are going to throw at him, and his teammates share his confidence.

"He's got great talent, great feet, and he can do anything we ask him to do," Snee said of Pugh. "When you have that kind of athletic ability and also an understanding of what's needed, you're going to be fine. A lot of times, young guys, they're thinking about what they have to do out there instead of just doing it. That's not the case with Justin."

Ready or not, this reworked Giants offensive line will be asked to do what it can to give Eli Manning and the offense enough time to operate Sunday night. These Cowboys-Giants games have tended to be shootouts in recent years, and the expectation is for more of the same. The rest of the week is about gearing up the intensity.

"You want this atmosphere, you want these games," Beatty said. "To open up the season? There's no other team but Dallas."

Giants Stock Watch

August, 28, 2013
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A look at whose stock is rising and falling with the New York Giants on the eve of their final preseason game.

FALLING

The secondary. No one was expecting another eight-interception year from Stevie Brown, but he was slated to be a starting safety and had worked hard all offseason to learn and master more of the defense than he knew when he was thrust surprisingly into a starter's role in 2012. Brown tore his ACL in Saturday night's preseason game against the Jets, leaving an already-questionable part of the Giants' roster thin. Newcomer Ryan Mundy takes over as the starter for now opposite Antrel Rolle, who's still working his way back from an ankle sprain. But the guy the Giants really like for that spot is Will Hill, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.

Manning
Eli Manning's comfort. Injuries along the offensive line have prompted three rearrangements of the starting group in the past nine days. After Jim Cordle struggled at center Saturday, the Giants moved Kevin Boothe to center and elevated James Brewer to the starting left guard spot. While Brewer has worked at guard in practice a bit this offseason, he's a natural tackle with little experience on the inside. But Boothe is the team's best option at center after the injured David Baas, and that position is more essential as Manning works to get comfortable behind all the shuffling. Manning is fine with shuttling different receivers and tight ends in and out of the lineup, but he's a little bit less fine with not being able to count on his protection to stay reliable. If Baas were able to return by Week 1, that would be a big help. One positive development: Rookie right tackle Justin Pugh seemed to hold up fine in his first game action as a starter.

RISING

Tuck
The defensive line. You saw Justin Tuck's interception of Geno Smith on a play where he hid and then dropped into coverage. Tuck looks fantastic. But what's stood out to me in these preseason games so far (and in the practices I've attended) is the play of the Giants' defensive tackles. Shaun Rogers and Mike Patterson, in particular, looked great Saturday night helping to collapse the pocket with interior pressure. A couple of guys like that in rotation with Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins could give the Giants something they didn't have last year as far as disruptive toughness in the interior of the defensive line.

Andre Brown. You're getting sick of me writing about this, but it's a real issue. David Wilson's 84-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage was the play of the game. But in a game in which Manning and the first-team offense took 34 snaps, Brown was on the field for 26 and Wilson was on the field for just 14. Brown has consistently been the third-down back and the goal-line back this preseason, but he was also the first-down back and the second-down back in the second quarter Saturday. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the team found itself in more passing downs in the second quarter. And while he said "not necessarily" when I asked him if he trusts Brown more than he trusts Wilson in pass protection, the proof is in the pudding. When the Giants are in passing downs, Brown is the halfback and Wilson is on the bench. This is a major conundrum for the Giants, because they need Wilson for his breathtaking big-play ability but don't yet trust him to help protect Manning, which is their top priority. Meantime, more snaps for Brown, who's been great in practice even though he was so-so in Saturday's game.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants' starting left guard Thursday against the Patriots has never started an NFL game. And before Monday, he had never played left guard.

Sounds a little crazy, but James Brewer can't wait to get out there.

[+] EnlargeJames Brewer
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsJames Brewer will start for the Giants on Thursday against the Patriots.
"I'm very excited to be playing left guard," Brewer said Tuesday after practice. "Honestly, just the chance to start is big for me. And whether or not it's on the right side or the left side, as long as I'm on the field, that's my main objective."

With center David Baas (knee) and right tackle David Diehl (thumb) out for last weekend's game against the Jets, coach Tom Coughlin elected to start backup center Jim Cordle, along with first-round pick Justin Pugh at right tackle.

But Cordle struggled against the Jets, so Coughlin elected to make another switch this week, moving starting left guard Kevin Boothe to center and inserting Brewer at left guard.

Brewer has played both offensive tackle positions for the Giants, and played right guard this spring while Chris Snee was recovering from hip surgery. But left guard? Never.

The Giants dropped the news on Brewer before Monday's practice, meaning he's had just two days to get comfortable at the position. "But after this week, [O-line coach Pat Flaherty] feels I'm actually a natural at left as far as my footwork and technique," Brewer said. "If he's confident in me, then I'm confident as well."

Coughlin spoke positively about Brewer on Tuesday. "He did well," Coughlin said. "He had a good spring, then he had a setback, and he's kind of getting going again, and yesterday's practice for him was a good one, I thought."

"Athleticism, (good) feet, moves well," Coughlin added. "He's naturally played tackle most of the time he's been here, but he can also play guard, and he's gonna have to."

The 25-year-old Brewer, 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds, was the Giants' fourth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Indiana. He was a backup left tackle for one year with the Hoosiers, and then moved over to the right side for the remainder of his college career.

The Giants drafted Brewer as a tackle, but he has had trouble getting on the field. He didn't get into a single game his rookie year, and played in just eight last season.

When the Giants used a first-round pick on Pugh back in the spring, and when they gave Cordle a chance to start ahead of Brewer last week, you had to wonder if Brewer was ever going to get a real chance to play for Big Blue. But Brewer said he wasn't concerned in either case.

"Nothing was said [to me], so I just took it as another person that I have to compete with to play," Brewer said of the team drafting Pugh. "I just want to play."

Well, they will both be in the starting lineup Thursday. And Brewer doesn't sound too anxious about it.

"It's not really a nervous thing at this point, because I know what I'm doing in the offense, as far as the playbook and who we have and who's blocking who, that kind of thing. That takes a lot of pressure off," Brewer said. "For me, it's more just technique stuff, and trying to get comfortable doing it."

"From practice yesterday to today, I feel way better," Brewer added.

How comfortable can you get in two days? We'll find out soon enough.
Jason Pierre-PaulJohn Munson/USA TODAY SportsJason Pierre-Paul could be ready for the Giants' regular season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who was activated from the physically unable to perform list and practiced for the first time Monday, was back on the field Tuesday afternoon.

After just doing individual work Monday, Pierre-Paul took some 11-on-11 team reps on Tuesday and looked good, making it more likely he will be ready for the team's regular- season opener in Dallas on Sept. 8.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said the trainers gave Pierre-Paul permission to do more. "He jumped in there, did a couple good things," Coughlin said.

In other news from Tuesday's practice:

" Coughlin stuck with the same revamped first-team offensive line he unveiled on Monday. Kevin Boothe remained at center and James Brewer at left guard, along with left tackle Will Beatty, right guard Chris Snee and right tackle Justin Pugh.

You can expect that to be the starting O-line on Thursday against the Patriots.

" On defense, Dan Connor continued to get the first-team reps at middle linebacker, over Mark Herzlich.

The starting secondary remained intact, with Ryan Mundy replacing the injured Stevie Brown at safety. But interestingly, when the Giants unveiled their first-team nickel unit, Terrell Thomas was the third cornerback alongside Prince Amukamara and Corey Webster, while Aaron Ross was on the second unit. The Giants are showing great confidence in Thomas, who's coming off a third ACL surgery.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They put a brave face on it, and they will continue to do so, but the last thing the New York Giants wanted this week was to lose two starting offensive linemen to injuries. Starting center David Baas sprained his knee in Sunday's preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and will be out three to six weeks. And veteran David Diehl, who was the starting right tackle before Baas' injury and was going to be the starting left guard after it, underwent thumb surgery Wednesday and is out for six weeks.

"We'll be fine," guard/center Kevin Boothe said. "Obviously, Dave's injury is a tough one, but we'll regroup. Unfortunately, we've had experiences with guys going down, so we'll respond."

Which is what you'd expect them to say, and to believe, because nobody ever won anything by moaning and groaning about the bad injury breaks they got. It's not for the players who remain healthy to ponder the potentially negative consequences of injuries. That's for those of us looking in from the outside. So here goes:

The problem with offensive-line injuries at this point in the offseason for the Giants is that they hit at the most significant question mark they already had on offense -- their blocking. Theirs was not a great offensive line to begin with in 2012, but it got by with help. Quarterback Eli Manning helped out, as always, with his quick release. Martellus Bennett performed up to his reputation as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw contributed his usual hard-nosed brilliance in pass protection. Fullback Henry Hynoski had a big year opening holes in the running game.

[+] EnlargeJustin Pugh
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants will need even more from rookie Justin Pugh on an uncertain offensive line.
But Bennett and Bradshaw are gone, and Hynoski is recovering from his own knee injury, and there's only so much Manning's quick release can accomplish on its own. The offensive line is going to have to be stout in 2013, and with two and a half weeks left before the Giants open in Dallas, it's getting thinner instead.

The Giants have an absolutely loaded offense from a skill-position standpoint. The tandem of running backs David Wilson and Andre Brown looks like a potentially explosive complement to Manning and the passing game. Top receiver Hakeem Nicks is healthy, Victor Cruz's heel injury should heal in time for the opener, Rueben Randle has had a big camp and new tight end Brandon Myers caught 79 passes with Oakland last year. Manning might have more weapons at the skill spots than he has had in some time, and if he has time to distribute the ball, the Giants should be able to score a ton of points.

But that's only if they can get the plays blocked, and right now that's looking like a mildly big "if." We've seen teams in recent years (the Dallas Cowboys come to mind) that had tons of skill-position talent but couldn't cash it in because of poor play on the offensive line. The Giants aren't worried, right now, about being one of those teams. They hope for big things from first-round rookie Justin Pugh, who's running with the first team at right tackle. They're hoping Baas can return for the opener. And they always believe someone from their stable of backups at any position will be developed enough and ready to take over in a case like this. Jim Cordle at center, or James Brewer at guard or tackle, perhaps, could fit that description.

The problem is that the line is the one area of the Giants' offense that carried question marks with it into training camp. And when injuries hit you where you're already questionable, then it's only natural to wobble a bit. The problem isn't that the Giants don't have a plan or the people to replace the ones who got hurt. It's that this week's injuries came at spots where the Giants weren't their strongest to begin with. So during a time of league-wide optimism, when teams are supposed to be fine-tuning for the start of the season, the Giants have a fresh cause for concern.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Thursday will mark exactly two years since the last time New York Giants cornerback Terrell Thomas played in a football game. On Aug. 22, 2011, Thomas, tore the ACL in his right knee in a preseason game against the Bears. He tore it again in training camp last year -- the third time in his career he's torn the same vital ligament -- and missed a second straight season. But after yet another grueling rehab, Thomas is looking good in practice and is set to play in Saturday's preseason game against the Jets.

[+] EnlargeTerrell Thomas
AP Photo/Evan PinkusAfter two years of rehabbing ACL tears, Terrell Thomas is ready to play in another game.
"He's going to go, yeah," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday, after a practice in which Thomas snagged one interception and saw another bounce off his hands. "He looked good yesterday, too. Really moved well out there today."

Thomas says he has worked mainly as the nickel corner so far in camp, but has been also playing some on the outside and "studying the safety position" in case there are packages in which they can use him as a safety. With starting cornerback Corey Webster sidelined due to knee and groin problems, Aaron Ross has been running with the first team at corner, but Thomas has seen his practice opportunities increase along with his strength and confidence.

"Whatever they need me to do, they know I'm that utility type of player," Thomas said before practice Tuesday. "My biggest thing is just getting back on the field. I haven't played in two years. My goals of starting and getting back in the lineup and doing all that, yeah, those are my goals. But first I've got to get on the field. That's foremost. And whatever capacity they want me in, I'll do it."

My take: Thomas' story is an easy one to root for, and a lot of people around here are. To say nothing of how valuable he could be if he could approach the form he showed as a starter in 2010, there's an awful lot to admire about a guy who was willing to put himself through a third ACL rehab. I spoke with Thomas for a while Tuesday, and I'll have more on him in a story that will post later this week.

Reshuffled O-line... again: After the announcement that offensive lineman David Diehl would need thumb surgery and be out six weeks, the Giants moved Kevin Boothe back to left guard and Jim Cordle to center with the first-team offensive line Wednesday. Starting center David Baas is out with a knee injury, and the initial plan was to move Diehl from right tackle to left guard, Boothe to center and play first-round rookie Justin Pugh at right tackle. But the Diehl injury forced another change, and Cordle is getting a chance to show what he can do after filling in for Baas in Sunday night's game against the Colts.

"Cordle played very well the other night, so we thought that was the best move for now," Coughlin said. "We're really excited about the way Cordle played the other night. Hopefully he'll keep on going."

My take: I was surprised they didn't leave Boothe at center and go with James Brewer at left guard. It's possible they want to keep working Brewer at tackle in case Pugh doesn't turn out to be ready. It's possible they expect Baas back for the opener and want to leave Boothe alone and let him play guard. Heck, it's possible they're really fired up about Cordle. Nothing's set in stone. If these guys don't play well in their new spots, the Giants won't be shy about making more changes.

The rookie: Pugh said he doesn't know whether he's auditioning for a starting spot or whether he's got one now to lose, but he believes he can handle the role regardless.

"I'm ready," he said. "[Offensive line coach Pat] Flaherty's definitely making sure I'm covering all the bases and going over game film, and this week the extra things the Jets bring to the table. It's exciting that I get out there and get to play, and getting out there for the game will give me valuable experience, which is something that I need coming back from the concussion."

My take: The Giants don't rush their draft picks, even the first-rounders. If Pugh looks like he can be their starter at right tackle, he probably keeps the job even once Diehl returns. But if not, they're not going to leave him out there to take his lumps just because he was this year's first-round pick. And I'm skeptical, since all I heard pre-draft was that Pugh was better off as a guard than as a tackle at the NFL level. But we'll all find out together.

Notes: Coughlin said injured cornerback Corey Webster was dealing with a knee injury as well as the groin problem that's been holding him out of action... Wide receivers Victor Cruz, Ramses Barden and Louis Murphy all missed practice with their injuries, which resulted in a lot of opportunities for Jerrel Jernigan, who worked everywhere and is an interesting option as the slot receiver while Cruz recovers from his heel injury... Justin Tuck, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury, practiced for the second straight day and appears fine.

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