Per Joe Judge, “Once you get in here, this is the land of opportunity…We’re going to keep the best 53 players.”
Getting in the Giants’ building and on the 90-man roster has meant daily changeover since Training Camp opened Tuesday officially, July 27th.
The Giants GM Dave Gettleman and Head Coach Joe Judge continue to tinker and add veteran pieces to the roster, especially the offensive line. With injuries mounting, the Giants inked former Cowboy veteran C/G Joe Looney on Saturday. More linemen are being interviewed and tried out Monday.
While the team announces no official depth chart, left to right, the first-team unit through OTAs, minicamp, and early preseason has been: LT Andrew Thomas, LG Shane Lemieux, C Nick Gates, RG Will Hernandez, RT Matt Peart. Well, that changed quickly as camp began.
Matt Peart worked all OTAs at RT but was placed on the PUP list at Tuesday’s check-in with a back ailment. He passed his physical Saturday and was on the field for the practice in Newark that evening. Thursday, Shane Lemieux was carted off the field with an injury that will hopefully only keep him out for two weeks. This will instantly test the depth at interior line positions.
On the positive side, T Nate Solder returned this year from his COVID opt-out in 2020. He’s leaner and hungrier. He’s working with the twos at RT. Will Hernandez checked into camp 20 pounds lighter than last year and determined to get back to the starting unit as the replacement at right guard for released veteran Kevin Zeitler (arguably the best offensive lineman last year, now a Raven).
The signing of Looney will help the interior line depth immediately. The Giants tried to get Looney last season, but he resigned with Dallas. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett coached Looney for four seasons. That may help with scheme familiarization. Looney can play Center or Guard, which works well into Judge’s mandate for versatility in his players.
Will he compete with Nick Gates for Center snaps?
Look for some level of competition there. Both players spent nearly all last season at the Center with good results (0 sacks given up by Gates, 3 sacks from Looney, 16 pressures each). It is possible Looney moves to Center and Gates moves back to Guard. On Saturday, Gates was the #1 Center working with Daniel Jones and veteran Kenny Wiggins was lining up as the Left Guard. Jonotthan Harrison was signed to compete at Center but is on the PUP list and not expected to return anytime soon. So, for now, Looney and Gates will focus on Center.
The Giants also have Zach Fulton (who played the last two years at RG), 2nd year Giant Kyle Murphy, UDFA Brett Higgie available to play Guard. But, so far, there’s no noise from them on playing time. Another free agent, C Austin Reiter (two-year starter for the Chiefs), may visit the Giants Monday.
And the revolving doors at 1925 Giants Way will stay busy until Joe Judge has his best 53 players.
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