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Justin Pugh: Giants are "ready to win tomorrow"

Posted Jun 28, 2017

Guard Justin Pugh updates the progress of the Giants offensive line heading into training camp:

In four short years, Justin Pugh went from a starter at Syracuse to the longest-tenured Giant on offense behind Eli Manning. Even he finds it hard to believe, but the left guard has seen a lot in that time.

The Giants evolved into the Ben McAdoo era, Mike Sullivan took over as offensive coordinator, and Mike Solari became the offensive line coach. Pugh, meanwhile, has played every position but center at some point in his career while starters have come and gone next to him. And those changes were just on his side of the ball; the defense is a whole other story.

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But that’s what makes this offseason different.

The coaching staff stayed intact. The roster did, too. There were a few subtractions that are always inevitable in today’s NFL, but Pugh believes the additions equal a net gain. Appearing on “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network, the fifth-year veteran was asked where the 2017 Giants fit into the current landscape of the league.

“We’re ready to win tomorrow,” he said. “I think that you look at the NFC, we’ve brought some guys in, bringing in Brandon Marshall, a guy who’s my size, we brought in Rhett Ellison, a tight end whose numbers aren’t going to jump off the board, but he comes in and blocks.”

Added Pugh: “Now we can switch up personnel. We can get in multiple formations. I think our offense is going to be better, and our defense returned everybody besides Johnathan Hankins. So I think we’re going to be a pretty good team to play.”

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The Giants are coming off an 11-win season, their highest total since going 12-4 in 2008, and made the postseason for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI. While the defense improved from 30th to second in scoring last season, the offense went the other way and dropped from sixth to 26th.

Pugh knows the entire offensive line needs to be better up front to get back on track, and the unit has made strides this offseason. That includes left tackle Ereck Flowers, who has come “light years” this offseason.

“I can say firsthand, coming in and playing offensive line as a rookie is not an easy thing to do,” said Pugh, who was the first Giants’ first-round draft choice to start an entire 16-game season as a rookie since Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1981. “I’m lining up Week 1, I’m going against DeMarcus Ware. [Flowers had] to go play left tackle in the NFL and go against some of these defensive ends that are unblockable, and you’re asking a guy that’s just come out of college to go out and get it done. He’s come light years from where he was. He’s not where he needs to be yet and where he wants to be.

“We all need to be better up front. Offensive line is a unit of five guys. There’s not one guy that can make up anything. If one of us messes up, we all mess up. So I know he’s going to get better this year. He’s worked his butt off. He hasn’t left New York. He stayed up in New York. It’s not going to be for a lack of trying or preparation. He has put everything into this season, and I can live with that. We’re going to go out, we’re going to battle together, I’m left guard, [he’s] left tackle, we’re a unit, and we’re a brotherhood.”