EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Shane Lemieux grew up in Washington state and played at the University of Oregon, but he is well-versed in Giants history, particularly as it pertains to the offensive line.
"In this organization we've had good offensive lines in the past," Lemieux said. "We've had (David) Diehl, Richie (Seubert), and (Shaun) O'Hara (starters on the 2007 team that won Super Bowl XLII). All these guys that we as offensive linemen now and the past couple of years, we've felt we need to live up to those standards and those guys to continue to play the way that they left it."
That hasn't happened in recent years. The Giants have tried different combinations attempting to find a group that plays consistently well and is durable. That process has continued this offseason under new leadership, and the Giants are confident their efforts will bear fruit when they begin playing games.
Left tackle Andrew Thomas, a third-year pro, will be the only holdover starter. First-year general manager Joe Schoen and new coach Brian Daboll have rebuilt the rest of the line. Evan Neal, the seventh overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, will likely play right tackle. Jon Feliciano, who was with Schoen and Daboll in Buffalo, has the inside track on the starting center job. Mark Glowinski, an eight-year veteran who played the last four seasons in Indianapolis, is the right guard. Lemieux, whose 2021 season was limited to 17 snaps in the opener because of a knee injury, is the potential starter at left guard.
The group of players from diverse backgrounds has formed a cohesive unit during the Giants' offseason workouts.
"The offensive line, I love that we were able to bring in guys from previous schemes and to show us the way of how the offense is supposed to be run," Glowinski said. "But we brought in guys that are feisty, hungry guys that want to win and want to play hard.
"We're doing our best to learn one another, compete with one another, gel as much as we can, spend as much time as we can, in the lunch, breakfast room and everything. We just want to understand one another, but we have young talent, and we also have older guys that we've come across one another in the past, so we understand those guys."
Lemieux sounds like a kid spending his summer playing at sleepaway camp.
"It's awesome," he said. "We have a great group of guys. You guys (reporters) just talked to Glow. He is a great dude. We have Jon Feliciano, great guy.
"The rookies (including third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu and fifth-round selection Marcus McKethan) all coming in are great dudes, man. They're learning. They're like sponges right now, and it's really cool to see. Obviously, learning a new scheme is fun, and it's stressful at the same time because you have to learn all new stuff, and you have to learn new verbiage and all that kind of stuff, but it's kind of a cool standpoint of getting my feet under me again and starting from scratch basically."
View the best photos from spring practices at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Daboll has very specific demands for his interior linemen.
"I really want them to protect the interior part of the pocket and get movement in the running game more than anything," he said. "I think you have to have an edge when you play. But more importantly you have to be able to execute the techniques, understand the assignments, play with the guys next to you, and do your job the best you can, which for us is protecting the interior depth of the pocket so the quarterback has room to step up and get movement in the running game."
Lemieux, a fifth-round draft choice in 2020, showed promise that he could fill those obligations. As a rookie, he played in 12 games with starts in each of the last nine games. But last year, he suffered a partially torn patellar tendon in his left knee a week into training camp. He healed enough to start the opener but suffered a setback and spent the rest of the year on injured reserve.
"I wanted to be out there for my team," he said. "I wanted to be out there and playing. I did everything I could to get out there. I didn't really think about I've got to tough through this. It was just like my teammates need me, and I love this game so much, I was going to do everything I could to get on that field.
"No regrets, man. It's a new year and look at me. I'm here now, and I'm healthy, and I'm ready to roll."
The previous coaching staff liked Lemieux's toughness and savvy, characteristics that stood out to Daboll, who was the Bill's offensive coordinator when he first scouted the young guard.
"We liked him where I came from coming out in the draft," Daboll said. "Had good conversations with Mario (Cristobal, then Oregon's head coach). He's a tough, smart, dependable guy. Plays with a nasty edge, which you need up front. Did a really good job in the meetings that we had with him leading up to the draft when I was in Buffalo.
"He's done a really nice job here. He's smart. He's what I thought he was when we evaluated him. Now when the pads get on, he'll have an opportunity to show that."
And Lemieux and the other linemen will get a chance to show they deserve to be in the same conversation as the decorated linemen who wore Giants blue in the past.
"We have a great deal of respect for them," Lemieux said. "We need to hold ourselves to a standard of that kind of offensive line play when they were winning Super Bowls. They're around the building, and we obviously talk to them. I know I talked to Richie, and I talked to Shaun O'Hara around the building, and we need to hold ourselves to a standard of the way that they played because that's the way you should."