EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Hal Hunter was the Indianapolis Colts' offensive line coach in 2015 when he spoke to Ereck Flowers prior to the NFL Draft.
"He had a great interview," Hunter recalled today. "We picked too far (down) in the draft; we didn't get a chance, but we would have picked him."
They didn't get the opportunity in part because the Giants beat them to Flowers, who was selected ninth overall. (The Colts chose wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, Flowers' teammate at the University of Miami, at No. 26.) Hunter is in his first season coaching the Giants' O-line, which, of course, gives him the opportunity to mentor Flowers, who this year moved to right tackle after three years on the left side.
"The number one thing I see is he has had a great attitude," Hunter said. "I think before you do anything in terms of trying to develop a player, if you've got great attitude, then you're going to approach it the right way. He came back in OTAs and he had great attitude.
"The first thing I noticed when he came back, he was the lightest he's been since he's reported, he came back in great shape. We did the conditioning test, great shape. So all of a sudden, the first thing he does, he makes a great impression. He has his weight under control, right where you want it to be, strong in the weight room, in good condition. It's been hot outside, he doesn't bat an eye. He goes and goes and goes. He's been great in the meeting room, a little bit of the Socratic method in there, so we're watching tape this morning and I'll fire a question to this guy, fire a question to that guy, I fired two questions at him today and he had the answers, one-two, engaged in the meeting, that shows a lot. The number one that I've been really pleased with is his attitude, it's all a fresh slate."
Like his coach, Flowers spoke to the media today and was characteristically economical with word usage. But he has adjusted well to right tackle, and is clearly upbeat about the Giants' new-look line, which includes tackle Nate Solder, guards Will Hernandez and Patrick Omameh, and center Jon Halapio.
"I think it's going well," Flowers said. "I'm getting better at it every day, just trying to get comfortable.
"When you move over you kind of have to switch everything, your muscle memory, a lot of different things. It's going pretty well, though I have gotten a lot better at it since I first started."
Flowers wouldn't single out anything when asked what's been most difficult about the transition.
"A little bit of everything," he said. "It's different footwork, it's different everything. There's different ways of looking at silent counts, everything is a little bit different."
Flowers credits Omameh, who was with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season and now plays right guard next to him, and Solder, the former New England Patriot, with helping his development on the right side.
"Pat and the whole line have been very supportive," Flowers said. "Pat is great, our lockers are next to each other and we are with each other all day, so it's good.
"(Solder) is a great dude that works hard. It's a great addition. (He has helped in) different ways, we work together sometimes after practice. A lot of the times he works with Will and I work with Pat a lot, so it's kind of like we are on opposite sides. But it's been good. I can go to him if I need any questions answered."
The line will get its first test in a game Thursday night, when the Giants open their preseason schedule at home vs. the Cleveland Browns.
"We haven't played any games together yet, but it's going well," Flowers said. "I think we will get better with each game."
Hunter expects the same from his new right tackle.
"He's had the right attitude," Hunter said. "That's the thing, when you don't have to worry about a guy's attitude, then you just coach. He's been very responsive. My technique is a little bit different, he tries to the best of his ability to do exactly what I want him to do and doesn't bat an eye. And if I ask him to do it again, he'll do it again. So again, it's like anything. When you're trying to coach any player, like anything we've ever done, sometimes you have to erase that tape to start with a blank tape. So we're working on things and he's making good progress. There's a lot of technical things to work on, run and pass, and everything is completely opposite at the right tackle position than the left."
The early returns suggest Flowers will be able to make a successful transition to the other side of the line.
*This is the second consecutive season coach Pat Shurmur has overseen the rebuilding of an offensive line. Last year, he was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, who brought in tackles Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in free agency and took Ohio State center Pat Elflein in the third round of the draft. Veteran Joe Berger moved from center to right guard.
"I think when an offensive line unit comes together it's because they're together," Shurmur said. "I made note of it last night at dinner when the guys were pulling the tables together; there was a table of 11 of our offensive line, and then there was another little table with the rest of them real close. They're gelling in more ways than just on the field and I think that's important. When you have a good, gritty group that cares about each other and spends time with each other when it's not mandated, then you know that thing is starting to come together."
*Why did the Giants add seven-year cornerback Leonard Johnson – who has played for four other teams – yesterday?
"As we talked about, we're going to do everything we can to improve every group on our team," Shurmur said. "He's a veteran player, we liked the way he moved around, we like how he played a year ago, and we felt like he was a good guy to add to our group."
*The Giants are off tomorrow and will resume practicing on Monday.