Not one person, from ownership on down, has downplayed the significance of re-shaping and improving the Giants’ offensive line heading into the 2018 season.
The re-tooled unit does not currently include any player who started at the same position a year ago. The only returning starter, Ereck Flowers, has moved from left to right tackle.
The group, which has worked together throughout the spring and in training camp, got its first real test on Thursday against the Cleveland Browns.
On the first play of the game and his first NFL carry, running back Saquon Barkley found a hole and broke a 39-yard run.
“What I saw on that first carry, the offensive line did a great job of creating space and creating a hole,” Barkley said. “I was able to have patience and Evan (Engram) did an unbelievable job of blocking on the backside, and I was able to burst through the hole, make a guy miss and get up field.”
The Giants finished with 134 yards on 23 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. The first unit played a couple series.
“I think that was pretty good from the first run we had with Saquon (Barkley),” Halapio said. “That was a positive note. I think communication up front, getting everybody on the same page, blocking in the same direction, in the run game and the pass. I think that was pretty good.”
Throughout camp, the offensive line has been building on their chemistry on and off the field. Halapio believes that was a positive from the game.
“The chemistry showed up early on in the run game. I think that’s a positive thing that we can build on going on to next week to Detroit.”
The protection was good from the first team to the third team, as the line only gave up two sacks and five tackles for loss. Eli Manning took the first sack and Alex Tanney was on the receiving end of the second. As always, there is still room for improvement.
“I think it went well. I thought everybody was on the same page – making some calls, making some checks, changing some protections, and everything. I think everybody is doing the right things. No delay of games or those types of things,” Manning said. “I thought the communication went smoothly. Now, it’s just cleaning some things up. We left some plays out there.”
Now the Giants are in the part of the season where they will start to see other competition instead of going up against each other everyday. New addition Nate Solder embraced the new competition.
“It’s always good to go against other competition. Getting prepared for another game scenario, like this, where there’s things at stake, you’re playing hard,” Solder said.
“Going against a guy you haven’t necessarily seen everyday, you have to be prepared through your film study and everything just like you have to be prepared during the season.”