Dave Gettleman did not mince words when he took over as general manager of the Giants in late December. "We've got to fix the O-line," he said at his introductory press conference. "Let's be honest. Let's not kid each other."
Seven months later, the revamped unit will be displayed to the public at training camp. And it's no joke.
Gettleman's frank talk was met with frank action this offseason. The Giants signed a big-time left tackle, selected a bruising guard in the second round, and parted ways with a pair of former high draft picks while asking another to switch positions. It was all part of a plan to get the Giants to this week. Players have reported, and on Thursday they open summer camp.
"I feel like as far as the guys they have on offense, especially on the offensive line, those guys have a little attitude to them," outside linebacker Olivier Vernon said. "That's one thing you like to see, especially the young guys. We have [Will] Hernandez coming in, a very good pick I feel like. He is going to be very good for the line, especially as young as he is. I think the whole offense is rejuvenated and we can wipe everything away from last year."
Vernon, who is making his own transition from a 4-3 end to a 3-4 outside linebacker, already got a healthy dose of the new offensive line this spring, especially the formidable left side of veteran tackle Nate Solder and the rookie Hernandez. Vernon sees a major improvement on Eli Manning's blind side.
"It seems like those guys have great communication as far as playing together, that's what you need on the offensive line," Vernon said. "They are only as good as how good they work together … Yeah, I was impressed with them not really making any mistakes that I noticed. I feel like having Nate Solder will help out tremendously and they are doing a lot of good things."
The young Hernandez has already shown he isn't afraid to mix it up with the veterans. Gettleman called him "cranky." Vernon called him a good pick.
"You can tell," Vernon said of how he knows. "I have been around a little while, so I can tell when someone comes in. His demeanor is what you look for in an offensive lineman. They have to have a different mentality and I see that in him. I like him."
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Vernon added: "You appreciate stuff like that because you are not supposed to be good and jolly playing offensive or defensive line. You are supposed to have a little edge to you, a little attitude. It's refreshing when you see a young cat come into the league with that. I'm looking forward to seeing him play."
Meanwhile, the right side consists of tackle Ereck Flowers, who had been the Giants' starting left tackle since he was drafted ninth overall in 2015, and guard Patrick Omameh, a former Jaguar. In the middle is a competition at center between Jon Halapio and Brett Jones.
Behind the line, Manning is learning a new offense for the third time in his pro career and the second time in the last five seasons. He credits Solder, a fellow two-time Super Bowl champion, with bringing the group together and getting everyone on the same page.
"So I feel good about the group we have in front of us right now," Manning said. "The way they've worked together, the way they've kind of accepted the challenge of being better and playing at a high level, and taking pride in that room. I'm excited about what they can do and the opportunities that will give us in the run game and the passing game."