O-Line continuity will be key to success

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*Fifth-year Guard Justin Pugh discusses the cohesiveness of the offensive line in an interview with Giants.com: *

Training camp is like living in an episode of “The Twilight Zone” for Justin Pugh. Get to the facility at 8 a.m. Leave at 9:30 p.m. Fall asleep. Wake up. Do it again.

“It’s just like you don’t know where you are,” he said after Thursday’s practice, the Giants’ sixth in seven days with no break until Sunday.

<table width="220" border="0" cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <table width="220" border="0" cellspacing="1" cellpadding="1" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <table width="220" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" align="right"> <tbody> <tr> <td colspan="2" bgcolor="#e6e6e6"> <br> </td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-size: medium; font-weight: bold; color: #003c7f;" colspan="2" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">NEWS</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="color: #990000;" width="9" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">></td> <td width="204" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">Optimism for Sterling Shepard</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="color: #990000;" width="9" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">></td> <td width="204" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">JPP welcomes healthy scratch at practice</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="color: #990000;" width="9" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">></td> <td width="204" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">Latest updates from Training Camp</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-size: medium; font-weight: bold; color: #003c7f;" colspan="2" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">PHOTOS</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="color: #990000;" width="9" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">></td> <td width="204" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">Top photos from Giants practice</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="font-size: medium; font-weight: bold; color: #003c7f;" colspan="2" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">VIDEOS</td> </tr> <tr> <td style="color: #990000;" width="9" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">></td> <td width="204" bgcolor="#e6e6e6">Watch post-practice interviews</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </td> </tr> </tbody> <tbody></tbody> </table> </td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <br> The script isn’t the only thing that is getting repetitive in Season 5 of his career. So are the characters.

Pugh, a left guard, has the same guy to his left and the same three to his right. Together, the five offensive linemen are on track to star in the 93rd season premiere of the New York Football Giants, which airs Sept. 10 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. In the first episode, the Giants take a trip to Dallas, just like they did at the start of 2013, 2015 and 2016. The NFL needs new writers, but that’s beside the point.

The point is the Giants have continuity on the offensive line.

“That’s huge,” Pugh said. “The past few years we’ve had the same group, so we can’t keep saying, ‘We have to build cohesiveness.’ It’s got to start to come. It’s got to start coming together now, and that’s something I’m looking forward to. Guys are going out there and we’re putting together -- we had a good day [Wednesday] and another good day [Thursday] at times. I’m excited about where we’re heading, and I’m just going to keep going out there and trying to lead by example.”

To the left of Pugh is Ereck Flowers, who has started all but one game since being drafted ninth overall in 2015.

To his right is center Weston Richburg, who has missed only one start as a second-round pick in 2014; right guard John Jerry, an eight-year veteran entering his fourth season with the Giants; and right tackle Bobby Hart, the Giants’ sixth and final pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.  

“You can win with guys that are consistently -- you know what you’re going to get,” Pugh said. “It’s the guys that are up and down and up and down that are going to cause you to lose games.”

The Giants didn’t do that too many times in Ben McAdoo’s first season as head coach. They are coming off an 11-5 campaign and their first postseason appearance since winning Super Bowl XLVI.

However, the offense dipped in 2016. It scored a touchdown less per game than the season before, and Eli Manning followed up a career-high 93.6 passer rating in 2015 with 86.0 a year later, his lowest since 2013. Meanwhile, the running game remained stagnant with an average ranking of 25th in the NFL over the last four seasons.

The offseason additions of six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Evan Engram, the team’s first-round pick, drew much of the attention, but the Giants also signed blocking tight end Rhett Ellison and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker to improve that side of the ball.

Fluker, the 11th overall pick in 2013 by San Diego, is the big name on a second-team offensive line that McAdoo thinks has “a chance to push people for jobs.”

“It’s going to push you,” Pugh said. “At the end of the day, this is a business. In the NFL, they’re looking for the next guy to come up and replace you, whether you want to admit it or not, and we bring in guys that have been successful, played in the NFL. Look at D.J. Fluker. He was a first-round pick. He’s going to come in and push that guy ahead of us. So if you’re not bringing your ‘A’ game day in and day out, someone else is going to step up and take your spot.”

Meanwhile, consistency in the backfield should also lift the offense. McAdoo made it clear early in the offseason that second-year pro Paul Perkins was the starting running back.

“A lot of times we’ve rotated running backs, and it’s hard to get a rhythm,” Pugh said. “So once you kind of know who your runner is and you know what fits his style, we can go out there and cater more towards that and be successful running the ball. That should open a lot for the passing game, and obviously we have those weapons.”

Next stop, “The Twilight Zone.” Or for the Giants, AT&T Stadium.

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