Print
RSS

Injuries hit O-Line again; backups ready to step up

Posted Nov 21, 2017

The Giants may be looking toward their backups again as injuries continue to hit the offensive line: 


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants started seven different offensive line combinations in their first 10 games, and there’s a chance they’ll make it eight when they visit the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

But in a season when change has been the only constant, the linemen aren’t going to worry about using another potential lineup.

“It’s not a big deal,” center Brett Jones said. “It gives other guys an opportunity. It’s definitely very exciting for whoever is going to go in there. It is what it is. We’ve had it all year.”

The latest change could have 10-year veteran John Greco or first-year pro Jon Halapio starting at right guard in FedExField. D.J. Fluker, who started the last five and six of the last seven games there, did not practice today because of a toe injury.

“D.J. is a tremendous player for us,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “He’s come on as of late, but we feel we have a lot of quality depth behind him that can go in and do the job.”

Fluker remain hopeful he will be in uniform to face the Redskins.

“I’m just going day to day, week to week,” he said. “I don’t know how severe it’s going to be until I can really make a plan, but right now I am day to day.

“I’m not ruled out for the game. Anything can happen so right now, I’m just going to see how it goes really. If I can play, I can play. If not, it is what it is right now. But don’t count me out, is all I can say.”

Halapio, 6-3 and 315 pounds, was on the Giants’ practice squad for most of the 2016 season and the first four weeks of the current season. He was added to the active roster on Oct. 4. Halapio was in uniform but did not play in two games before playing in his first four NFL regular-season games. Most of Halapio’s playing time has been on special teams, though he did see action at guard in San Francisco on Nov. 12.


Greco, 6-4 and 318 pounds, has far more experience in the NFL, but less time with the Giants. He signed with the team one week ago. But Greco has played in 111 games with 70 starts for St. Louis and Cleveland. Greco has started 45 games at right guard, 24 at left guard, and one at center.

If Halapio or Greco starts, it would complete a two-game makeover of the right side of the line. Rookie free agent Chad Wheeler made his first NFL start and played the entire game at right tackle in the Giants’ 12-9 victory against Kansas City on Sunday. Justin Pugh remains sidelined with a back injury.

Halapio has not played fulltime since his collegiate career at the University of Florida, where he played in 51 games with 43 starts, and was a two-time captain. As a senior, he started all 10 games in which he played at right guard.

Greco is the kind of seasoned professional who could step in and immediately help solidify the line. “He knows a lot of football,” McAdoo said. “He had to work hard to get familiar with our terminology. He’s a bright young man. He’s picked it up fairly quickly.”

Greco is 32, which McAdoo admits makes him, “Not such a young man.”

Greco was a third-round draft choice (65th overall selection) by the Rams in 2008, from Toledo. After playing three seasons with St. Louis, Greco was traded to the Brown on Aug. 1, 2011. He started all 16 games for the Browns in 2014, and all 12 games in which he played in 2016.

This year Greco was released by the Browns on Sept. 2. He signed with the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 2, but did not play in a game before being cut on Nov. 8.

“I’ve pretty much done every role possible,” Greco said. “I’ve just been entering the season as the next guy in, I’ve played years as a starter at multiple positions. Now, it’s a little different role where I was home at the beginning of the year. I’ve bounced around to two teams in a couple weeks, (but) I’m here now and got to be ready to roll.”

Eight different players have started at least one game on the Giants’ offensive line this season. Ereck Flowers and John Jerry are the only players to start every game, and Flowers, the left tackle, is the sole lineman to play the same position in every contest.

“He’s a young player that works hard at getting better at his craft each and every day,” McAdoo said. “He’s improved in meetings. He’s improved on the field, improved on the practice field. He has his ups and downs just like the other players do, but he’s getting better.”

Even with all of the changes, so is the Giants’ offensive line.

*In addition to Fluker, four players missed practice: linebackers B.J. Goodson (ankle) and Calvin Munson (quad), Pugh (back), and a new addition to the list, wide receiver Sterling Shepard (illness).

“Sterling is not feeling well,” McAdoo said of the receiver who didn’t play vs. Kansas City because of migraine headaches. “We kept him in the training room and they’re taking a look at him. They’re looking at all the possibilities.”

Six players were limited, including defensive end Olivier Vernon (shoulder) and defensive tackle Damon Harrison (ankle), who were on the did-not-practice list yesterday. They were joined by running back Orleans Darkwa (hamstring), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (knee), linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (groin), and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson (ankle).