EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Like members of a close-knit family, the Giants' offensive linemen are supporting each other when times get tough.
"Coming together and moving forward," interior lineman Ben Bredeson said today after practice. "Coming together and bonding together tighter than before and moving forward together as a unit.
"It's absolutely critical that we have each other's back through the highs and the lows. You got to take care of one another and just get ready for the next game."
So, that's what they're doing. The line, beset by injuries, has moved on from an unsatisfactory performance two nights ago against the Seattle Seahawks and is focused on the next challenge, Sunday in Miami against the 3-1 Dolphins.
Seven different Seahawks defenders accumulated 11 sacks; the highest total allowed by the Giants since team sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1963. Quarterback Daniel Jones was sacked 10 times – the most endured by a quarterback since Matthew Stafford, then with Detroit, was sacked 10 times in 2018 - and wide receiver Parris Campbell once.
"I think there are some situations where I can get the ball out of my hands quicker and put our offense in a better situation," Jones said.
Joshua Ezeudu, who has started the last three games at left tackle for injured All-Pro Andrew Thomas, was asked if the linemen are angered, embarrassed and/or determined.
"I would just say the mood is just – everybody is just staying very constant," Ezeudu said. "Because in this league, in this world, in life really, you can't get too up, you can't get too down. We know the work we have to do; we know that we're capable of everything that everyone says we are not. All you have to do is just keep on working, just keep on having faith."
But like in a family, faith can be shaken when people you lean on are missing. The three Giants who did not practice today are all offensive linemen: Thomas (hamstring), center John Michael Schmitz (shoulder) and guard Shane Lemieux (groin). Thomas has missed the last three games. Schmitz started Monday night and Lemieux entered the game when Schmitz was injured in the first quarter, with Ben Bredeson moving to center.
Asked if it was "out of the question" for Thomas to play in Miami, Daboll said," I don't know yet. I'd probably say leaning toward no, but not ready to make that determination."
Regarding Schmitz, Daboll said, "I don't think it's long term, we'll see where he's at. I think he's making progress; we're just going to hold him out today. We'll see where he is the next couple days. Could play but not ready today."
Right tackle Evan Neal (hand/ankle) and right guard Markus McKethan (knee) were among the seven players who were limited.
Justin Pugh, the former Giants first-round draft choice who was signed yesterday to the practice squad, will likely not provide immediate help. Daboll replied "probably not" when asked if Pugh has a chance to play Sunday. "He'll kind of work off to the side and get acclimated to some of the stuff, get ready to practice," Daboll said. "That's where we're at with Justin."
Bredeson has emerged as one of the Giants' valuable and versatile linemen. He started the first two games at left guard before suffering a concussion in the second half of the victory at Arizona on Sept. 17. Bredeson was inactive four days later in San Francisco. Against Seattle, he returned to left guard, but lasted just 11 plays there before shifting to center when Schmitz was sidelined. Lemieux took over at guard but gave way to Mark Glowinski after suffering a second half injury.
"He (Bredeson) is a smart guy, knows all our calls, had a bunch of reps in the summer," Daboll said. "It's good to have a guy that plays guard that can play center as well."
"That's why we do so much rotation during fall camp and in offseason training, so that we can always be ready for situations like that," Bredeson said. "Obviously, it's not ideal when you lose your center in the middle of a game. We want John Michael to come back as soon as possible, but that's why we have so much rotation going on in training camp so that we can be ready for this situation."
Because the center makes blocking calls at the line prior to the snap, it is a more cerebral position than guard. Even when he's not taking physical reps there, Bredeson's thought process is often at center.
"Always staying ready with mentally going over the gameplan," he said. "Like I've said before, ever since you start playing center, you approach the game as a center. I feel like it slows everything down when you're playing other positions as well. So just always being ready to go at the drop of the hat and, unfortunately, that's what we had to do on Monday when John Michael went down. It's just making sure that you can do the job and that you're ready for it every single week if the situation were to occur."
With Schmitz's status uncertain, Bredeson might not learn until shortly before gametime Sunday where he will play. Bredeson is confident the rest of the linemen and he will be ready.
"We always take care of each other," Bredeson said. "We always say you have to have your brother's back, even after a tough game or after a loss. We're all supportive of every single person on the line. That's our job to stick together and take care of one another. At some point you watch the film, you take the good from it, take the bad from it, correct the bad and just get ready for the next one."
*In the season's first three games, rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins played 148 defensive snaps, about 73% of the total. Against Seattle, he was on the field for only seven plays, all on special teams. Adoree Jackson, who had been moving inside to the slot in sub defenses, stayed outside for all 55 defensive snaps, with Cor'Dale Flott playing 30 snaps in his first action of the season.
"It was based on who we were playing, in terms of how we were matching the corners and part of the gameplan," Daboll said. "I'd say we're talking about that this week of how we want to deploy our guys and that's probably going to be a week-to-week discussion as we go though who we're playing, the matchups, how we want to play them defensively."
*Jackson replaced Eric Gray as the punt returner after the rookie running back muffed the first punt of the game. But Daboll said the change is not permanent.
"I'd say that we'll go back to him (Gray)," Daboll said. "Again, that game I just felt that was the right thing to do, based on that punter (Michael Dickson), is to let Adoree' field them after that first one and we'll go ahead, and he'll be back."
*In addition to Neal and McKethan, the players who were limited in practice were running backs Saquon Barkley (ankle) and Gary Brightwell (ankle), wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson (knee), tight end Daniel Bellinger (knee) and linebacker Azeez Ojulari (hamstring).
Barkley took full team reps for the first time since hurting his ankle in Arizona on Sept. 17.
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