Pat Flaherty misses some familiar faces, but relishes the challenge of constructing an offensive line without them.
This is Flaherty's 11th season as the Giants' line coach. For each of the first 10, David Diehl and Chris Snee were part of his group. Diehl retired in January and on Monday, Snee announced that he would no longer play football. Flaherty's room now has two incumbent starters (tackles Justin Pugh and Will Beatty), four veteran free agent acquisitions, second-round draft choice Weston Richburg and lots of uncertainty.
"The difference is learning the new names and that's the challenge for me," Flaherty said today at the Giants' training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. "But I did that really quickly. The next step is saying, 'The New York Giants signed you, let's go. This is going to be the way you play and this is the way you learn. It's your job to learn the offense and execute.'"
Flaherty is gauging who his best players are and who is best-suited for each position. In addition to Pugh and Beatty, the current starters are guards Brandon Mosley and Geoff Schwartz and center J.D. Walton. The latter two are first-year Giants. Veteran free agents Charles Brown and John Jerry and draft choice Weston Richburg are among the other players competing for playing time.
"When a mistake is made, the challenge for a coach, I look in the mirror fast," Flaherty said. "Something I'm saying is not getting across to this particular player. But being different is a great challenge. We've had challenges in the past but this group can form its own identity and personality. I've said this before, each team, each year, you're going to find out what their personality and demeanor is all about. Now I have new guys and I'm excited about it. I have my own expectations and (so does) the coaching staff. To see a development, that's what's going to be neat."
*The Giants' starting defensive tackles are Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, ages 33 and 30 and entering their 11th and 10th NFL seasons, respectively. They have played a combined 272 regular-season games. But defensive line coach Robert Nunn says they both play at a high level, though the Giants were in shoulder pads for the first time today.
"They've shown nothing so far that shows me any different," Nunn said. "It's hard to judge without getting pads on when you're getting live bullets getting shot at you and then recovering, and see how their bodies hold up. But they've come in both in outstanding shape. Mike Patterson did a great job in the offseason with his weight and his training. That's all positive right now until we can get into pads. That's when the true story will be told."
The backup tackles aren't nearly as experienced. Second-teamers Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn have played in a combined 26 games.
"I'm really excited about those two," Nunn said. "Johnathan really did an outstanding job in the offseason taking care of himself. He's always in great shape. Those guys did as well as they could do in OTAs and mini-camp. At the start of training camp, they are right where they need to be. I'm excited about those two and once the pads come on, we'll see. But I think we're going to see positive things out of them throughout the year. They can provide a lot of depth. I think we have a healthy situation there at tackle with Cullen and Mike P. and where they are mentally, how they've approached everything, their leadership. But we have to go out there and do it when the pads come on. Everything has been good since the offseason. They've done everything they can do. Now we just have to go out there and produce."
*The tackle to watch behind the first four is rookie Jay Bromley, a third-round draft choice this year.
"He's real raw," Nunn said. "Really needs to work on his technique and he needs every rep he can get. But he's very eager, has a great attitude, good personality, fits in the room. He's off to a good start but he needs time. We'll see where it goes once the pads come on, but I like where he is as far as his eagerness and he is very aware, on top of everything, has picked up on everything, done an outstanding job picking up the defense. He's a really exciting prospect."
Photos from Friday's #GiantsCamp