While many Giants fans are concerned about the recovery timetable of wideout Victor Cruz, the biggest worry should still be directed at the offensive line.
Sure, it’d be nice to see Cruz running around, catching passes, and being a full participant in the team’s voluntary organized team activities (OTAs), which began on Monday, but with an offensive line that was inconsistent last season, it’s up to new head coach Ben McAdoo and his staff to help get the unit gelling as one.
The draft didn’t feature a single offensive lineman selected among the Giants’ six picks – the first time that’s happened since the draft began in 1936. It led many to think that general manager Jerry Reese either thinks the holdovers from last season will improve as a unit, or he’s biding his time for a player to be cut or made available via trade.
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Among the possible lineman that are – or could be – available include former Giants left tackle Will Beatty, who was released in February, right guard Louis Vasquez, who was released by the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, or former Rutgers star tackle Anthony Davis. The latter sat out last season contemplating retirement. And while he’s hinted at returning, his contract is technically still property of the San Francisco 49ers, and barring a release, could only be acquired via trade.
With the exception of a trade or signing of a free agent, it looks like Big Blue is fine with forging ahead with the holdovers – with the starting lineup currently penciled in as Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, John Jerry at right guard, and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle.
The last two were much-maligned last season, but for Richburg, he feels another season together can only make them stronger. And he’s liked what he’s seen so far this offseason during team-organized workouts and in workouts that he and a few of his linemates have conducted on their own.
“I said it when I first got up here [that] I really like the guys we have in our room and I think the fact that it stayed consistent personnel-wise says something about the group we have,” Richburg said. “I think guys believe that we can do some really great things together, and it is just going to take that consistency [and] being out there as much as possible with that same group.”
Richburg has boasted about his offseason so far, noting the work he’s put in at the O-Line Performance Center in Arizona, which is run by former NFL lineman LeCharles Bentley.
The presumptive third-year starter made waves earlier this month when he lamented that a “majority” of his offensive line “is not doing anything right now … I know a lot of guys are just happy to be there [in the league], which is the difference between them and the guys who are here [in Arizona].”
He clarified that, adding that Jerry was also with him, and reasoned that he doesn’t think his teammates took exception.
“Those things were taken out of context. I was just speaking on what I believe about the place I train [and] I think it is a great spot,” said Richburg. “I wish everybody could be out there because we do some really great stuff. Like I said, I will be out there every off-season until I am done playing.”
Richburg noted that Monday’s session went well. And while he thinks last season’s starting rotation should remain the same, it’ll be up to McAdoo and staff to determine that. Despite having been on the staff the previous two seasons as the offensive coordinator, McAdoo said that now he’s the head coach, everyone gets a clean slate, regardless if they were a top-flight starter or oft-criticized.
“We’ll go in and we’ll take a look at the tape. We’re not going to rush to any evaluations on guys. What we’re starting with right now is we’re throwing guys out there to give them a chance to compete somewhat in OTAs,” McAdoo said. “We’ve got to be smart using the word ‘compete,’ but this is a chance to develop and a chance to improve. We’ll see more when we get a chance to look at the tape.”
Big Blue notes:
-The current backups on the offensive line include tackles Bobby Hart, Emmett Cleary, Brett Jones, Byron Stingily, and Jake Rodgers; guards Adam Gettis, Ryan Seymour, and Dillon Farrell; and center Shane McDermott. The Giants have high hopes for both Hart and Jones – the latter a Canadian Football League product who was brought in last season.
-These workouts are strictly voluntary, so McAdoo said he won’t obsess over the absence of cornerbackDominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
“It’s a voluntary opportunity, OTAs. If he’s here, we’ll coach him. If he’s not, we wish him nothing but the best. … Like I said, this is a voluntary camp. We want all of our guys here. We feel it’s important to developing the team and building fundamentals and working on communication, and we can’t wait to get DRC back.”
-Rookie fifth-round pick Paul Perkins wasn’t at the workouts, as he’s completing his academic obligations at UCLA. The dynamic running back, who is the nephew of former 1970’s Cowboys fullback Don Perkins, will be present at the mandatory minicamp, next month.
-Wideout Victor Cruz didn’t get much work in the drills, as the Giants insist they’re taking his recovery slow – with the goal of full participation being training camp.
-Veteran safety Cooper Taylor underwent a sports hernia surgery and will not be available until the July 28 training camp period.
-Annie Apple, whose son Eli was the Giants’ No. 10 pick, will be a commentator on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown.