Neglected no more, the offensive line looks vastly different for the New York Giants this offseason. Amazing what a competent general manager with a vision can do for an organization.
There is no denying that the Giants offensive line was in bad shape the past two years, having failed to add significant upgrades during that time via free agency or the NFL Draft. But Dave Gettleman in just one offseason as general manager has changed things along the line, adding left tackle Nate Solder, guard Patrick Omameh and drafting another guard, Will Hernandez, in the second round.
But it might be one name, not considered a game-changer and who was already on the roster that Gettleman inherited, that has a shot at making an impact. Jon Halapio, a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots who has been waived or cut five times in the NFL, has a shot at making the Giants two-deep.
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“Yeah, he has done a very good job. ‘Pio’ is very smart, he’s got good instincts — he snaps the ball well, which is a really refreshing thing for a center. That was supposed to be humorous,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said. "But no, he does all of those things well and he’s very competitive and he knows how to play the game. I think [Brett Jones] is doing the same thing. They’re just in there competing. I wouldn’t over-evaluate who is getting the first team reps, but I think if you’re talking about Pio specifically, he has really sort of opened his eyes that he has a chance to play.”
Halapio has 10 NFL appearances with six starts, all of which came last year when he signed midway through the season and stepped into an injury-depleted offensive line. He played guard in college at Florida and had 43 starts in Gainesville.
It is an exciting time for Halapio and the Giants offensive line in general. This group has more talent then at any times the past four years, pointing perhaps to a season where there should be an increase in protection for quarterback Eli Manning and an improved running attack as well.
Shurmur was asked this week with, given the physical contact limitations of offseason workouts, what the offensive line can gain.
“I think they have to be physical, I think they have to be smart and then once they have the basic kind of traits that you’re looking for in the player, then I like guys that have power and can move their feet,” Shurmur said. “You just try to find the best in all of those areas.”