* OL D.J. Fluker discusses his first impressions of the Giants: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – D.J. Fluker was the 11th overall selection of the 2013 NFL Draft, soon after winning his second BSC national championship at the University of Alabama. In four seasons with the San Diego Chargers, he started all 61 regular-season and postseason games in which he played.
On March 12, he signed with the Giants, and now he is a second-teamer uncertain how much or even if he will play this season. But if that status change has dampened Fluker’s enthusiasm, he hid it well when he spoke to reporters after a training camp practice today.
“I’m excited,” Fluker said. “I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited. Being able to be here and play football for the New York Giants. Where else would you want to be? Being here, seeing these teammates, you know, Eli (Manning). Being a part of this offensive line. This is where it’s at. This is where I want to be. Guys that want to buy into winning. They want to win. They want to be great. You can’t ask anything else.”
Fluker’s zeal is understandable. Last season, the Giants were an 11-5 playoff team, and they are expected to contend for the NFC East title this year. The Chargers were 5-11, their second consecutive double-digit loss season and third in a row in which they failed to qualify for the postseason.
The difference in cultures between the franchises was immediately evident to the 6-5, 350-pounder.
“The first day you walk in the building and everybody just sits there and greets you,” Fluker said. “That’s when you know, ‘Okay, they’re happy to have someone come here that wants to play.’ And you’ve got people in here that are passionate from the organization, like all around, they’re passionate about winning. I mean, we were just learning about ‘The Duke’ (the NFL football named for the Giants’ late great owner, Wellington Mara) just yesterday, about the whole football, like how it started. I was excited, it got me fired up inside. It’s about the passion. The passion when you walk in the building, they’re all passionate about winning. I mean, where else can you find that? And when I came in, I was like, ‘Shoot, I’m at Alabama all over again, I’m all fired up.’ So, I got the gist when I came through the door, you know? But other than that, just being here with all them – (general manager) Jerry Reese, talking to him and talking to (offensive line coach) Mike Solari, everybody, it’s just been great.”
View the best photos from Saturday's Training Camp practice
Fluker has started 30 games at right tackle, three at left tackle, and 28 the last two seasons at right guard. Coach Ben McAdoo said he views Fluker “as a right side player for right now, but things can change in a hurry in this business.” Fluker will get snaps at both guard and tackle in camp. The incumbent starters are John Jerry at guard and Bobby Hart at tackle.
“It’s wherever coach wants to put me,” Fluker said. “My mindset is always different. Everybody can tell you where he wants you to be, but my mindset is it’s about how bad you want something. That’s how I see every day of life, so if I can go play somewhere else I will – like on the offensive line.
“The thing about it is, everybody is grinding right now. Camp, nobody has a job in camp. Anybody can move anywhere. For me, I have no job, so I’m just going in to work. That’s my mentality, my mindset every single day I get up. Every morning at five o’clock. I’m going to work. You know, it’s all about attitude.”
And Fluker certainly has a good one.
*The Giants practiced under an overcast sky, with temperatures barely climbing above 70 and a stiff breeze blowing – in other words, the chilliest conditions in memory for a training camp practice.
“It’s good,” McAdoo said. “We had a little practice with a wind chill out there. Doesn’t happen very often in July, but we’ll take it.”
*Defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who was largely a spectator during yesterday’s opening workout because of lower body soreness, was more active today.
“He did a bit more today,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to build him up.”
*Backup quarterback Geno Smith, who was limited in the spring after undergoing surgery because of the torn ACL he suffered last season with the Jets, is practicing fully. He did not take part in full-team team drills in the spring. Today, he took snaps with the second team.
“It was good to get him out there in the team reps,” McAdoo said. “First time we had a chance to put him out there in the team reps. He did primarily seven-on-seven in the offseason, so it’s exciting to see. Good competition at the quarterback spot.”
In addition to Eli Manning and Smith, the Giants have veteran Josh Johnson and rookie Davis Webb vying for snaps at quarterback.
“We’re going to roll them all in there, give them a chance to get some reps,” McAdoo said. “Whether it’s two, whether it’s three, whether it’s four, we’ll roll all of those guys.”