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Mailbag: Starting O-line combinations, Shep in slot?


Robert in New York: Who will be the starting offensive linemen if the roster holds and all of them are healthy to start the season?

John Schmeelk: The two easy starters to predict are Andrew Thomas at left tackle and Nick Gates at center. It gets more interesting after that. Right tackle will likely be a straight-up two-man competition between Matt Peart and Nate Solder. The preference would be for Matt Peart to win that competition and he will be given every opportunity to do so. Perhaps, Solder starts the season and Peart gets rotated in a lot until he eventually takes the job.

Guard is where the majority of the competition will take place, but you may have the most confidence (based on last season) in Shane Lemieux being the left guard. It was obvious the coaching staff liked how he played there from an intelligence and toughness perspective. There could also be an advantage to keeping the guard next to Andrew Thomas intact, especially after Thomas' play improved the second half of the season. Right guard is a bit of a free for all. Will Hernandez is probably the most talented of the group given his second-round pedigree and experience as a starter with the Giants the last three years. But he will have a number of experienced players to beat out, including Zach Fulton (90 NFL starts), Kenny Wiggins (38 NFL starts), and Jonotthan Harrison (42 NFL starts). Fulton is probably the most likely of that group to make the run at that spot, but let's go with Hernandez to win it.

Austin in Illinois: With Kenny Golladay at the No. 1 receiver, is Sterling Shepard going into the slot role?

John Schmeelk: You could expect Shepard to take most of his snaps in the slot this year, though he might see some time outside when Kadarius Toney is used in the slot. The Giants' group of receivers are strong and possess a complementary set of skills that will allow multiple formations.

Jack in Florida: I imagine that, if healthy, Saquon Barkley will lead the team in yards from scrimmage. But If the Giants use Kadarius Toney as a punt and kickoff returner, will he lead the team in all-purpose yards?

John Schmeelk: The Giants put up 1,016 in combined return yardages last season. If you estimate Toney getting 800 yards from scrimmage in addition to all of the return yardage – which is unlikely - it brings him to nearly 1,800 yards. If Barkley stays healthy, you'd think he finishes with more than 1,800 total yards.


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