*Patrick Omameh is ready to help the Giants fortify their O-Line: *
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Dave Gettleman stood in front of the gathered media in December after he was hired as the Giants new General Manager, he was very specific about one thing he needed to do in order to turn the team's fortunes around. "We've got to fix the o-line," Gettleman said. "Let's be honest. Let's not kid each other. I told you at the top, big men allow you to compete and that's what we've got to fix."
Since then, the Giants have begun the hard work of rebuilding that unit. Bobby Hart was released before the final game of the regular season. Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and DJ Fluker all left via free agency. All four players were starters at one point last year.
The new look offensive line was on the field for the first day of voluntary veteran mini-camp on Tuesday. The first unit featured newly acquired Nate Solder and Patrick Omameh at left tackle and left guard. The only returning full-time starter was Brett Jones at center. Five-year pro Jon Halapio manned right guard and Chad Wheeler was at right tackle. Ereck Flowers, who has not been attending the offseason program, is slated to compete at the right tackle spot. Last year's starter at right guard, John Jerry, was with the second group.
Solder was the highest profile acquisition this offseason, but Omameh, a five-year veteran who started 13 games last year for the Jaguars, will be just as important. The duo will make up a brand new left side protecting Eli Manning's blind side. Both are getting acclimated to their new environment.
"It's been a great experience," Omameh said. "Great guys in the locker room and offensive line room. I can't wait to really get on the field and hit the ground running and see what this 2018 squad is going to look like."
"The way they received me," Solder said when asked for his early impressions of his new organization. "The high quality of the way they run things around here, the quality of the people that I've been around here the couple of weeks that I've been here has been as good as any.
While Solder was the 17th overall pick of the Patriots in the 2011 draft, Omameh was undrafted coming out of Michigan in 2013. He has had to earn everything he has achieved since arriving in the league.
"I'm a guy that has never been afraid of competition." Omameh said. "It is something I have never shied away from. It is really all I know. Competing as soon as I get on the field, and it has become part of who I am and what I do as a player and I try to keep that in me in every part of the my game."
Preparation and film work have been a big reason for Omameh's success.
"It's a huge part of the game, especially at this level," Omameh said. "It prepares you in ways that technique alone will not. When you feel you are prepared, it brings a confidence with you and when you are confident you can play with attitude."
Voluntary minicamp this week has strict rules prohibiting contact, making it difficult for offensive linemen to ply their trade on the field. But that doesn't mean the group cannot achieve some of their other objectives.
"Regardless of limitation, whenever you can get the group together, you can develop that cohesion," Omameh said. "It is about the calls, the comfort level with the guys in the huddle and the guys next to you. There are still huge benefits we can get out of this time on the field and we will take full advantage of it."
"We spend a lot of time together, now through our offseason." Solder said. "Once the camp starts, there's a lot of time that we've got to spend together to get to know each other, playing side by side."
Gettleman, more likely than not, is not done reworking the offensive line group. After this week's NFL Draft, the Giants might have another offensive lineman (or two or more?) who will have to be integrated into the unit. It is an ongoing process that will have a long lasting impact on the Giants' success this year and in the future.
The Giants take the field for the first day of voluntary minicamp!