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Will Hernandez aims to impress Giants coaches


Rookie guard Will Hernandez spoke with the media before his first minicamp practice:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Will Hernandez is 6-2 and 327 pounds, so speculation about what position he will play for the Giants has been limited to left or right guard. But the team's second-round draft choice is willing to expand his positional horizons.

"I'm here to help out the team in any way," Hernandez said today. "If they want to put me at kicker, I'll kick the ball – I did play soccer a little bit, so I can help there (laughs). But no, wherever the coaches want me, that's where I'll be."

His generous offer notwithstanding, the coaches want him on the line. He started 49 consecutive games at left guard the last four seasons at Texas-El Paso, where he became one of the nation's best run blockers and pass protectors. The Giants expect him to be one of the stalwarts on their rebuilt offensive line, most likely at his college position. That would move veteran free agent acquisition Patrick Omameh to the right side.

"(Hernandez has) played a lot of snaps at left guard, and we'll look at him there primarily," coach Pat Shurmur said. "But guards have to play on both sides, especially young ones. That's part of a guard learning it the right way; he's going to have to take reps on both sides."

Hernandez is eager to prove he has the capability to perform at either position in the three-day rookie minicamp that began today.

"The first thing (you want to show the coaches) is that you're adaptable," Hernandez said. "You're adaptable to going from what you know and what you've been taught for the past five years, four years and being able to transition. Even though it's still the sport of football, there are still a lot of details that you need to be able to adjust to, and the style of coaching that the coaches do here and the way they want you to do things. I think that's most important, and then after that I think it's just showing the same person you were for the reason of why they brought you down here. Show that you're still that guy that gives all-out effort, that wants to play, that has passion for the sport and show them that and improve day-by-day, too, which shows your coachability."

Hernandez is polite and easygoing out of uniform. But on the field, he's often described as nasty, a label he wears with pride.

"It's kind of a split personality deal," Hernandez said. "I don't purposely try and change, but as soon as that helmet comes on, it's just a completely different mindset. I can say please and thank you on the field, too, maybe after I've done my job, but there is definitely a difference there.

"I think every player should be referred to as that. If you're a football player, you should be referred to as a nasty, on-the-edge player. I think that's how everyone should play. I think that's the reason why this sport is so popular and yeah, I definitely consider myself that and I think that everybody should be exactly that."

Hernandez was the 34th overall selection in the draft, the exact spot they secured guard Chris Snee in 2004. Snee took over as the Giants' starting right guard in his first training camp. He was a standout on the teams that won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Snee was a four-time Pro Bowler and an All-Pro who started all 141 regular-season games and 11 postseason games in which he played. He missed only 19 games in his 10 seasons, including 13 in 2013, his final season.

"I've definitely heard about him," Hernandez said. "I'm trying as much as I can to fill any kind of shoes that I'm expected to. I know that I have a lot of expectations here and I want to fulfill it to 100 percent and do the best that I can do."

*Shurmur on yesterday's release of running back Paul Perkins, who began the 2016 season as the Giants' starting running back.

"He has a pec injury that we're all aware of, and it's going to take a significant time for him to come back," Shurmur said. "That was it. Quite frankly, we wanted the roster spot."

*Shurmur is looking for more than football skills from the 60 players attending the camp.

"They are getting a chance to live out their dream of playing pro football," he said. "I think when we look at it, we have a mixture of drafted players, college undrafted players, tryout guys and so we're going to put them through the paces for three days here and try and teach them. I think what's important is and I've talked to the staff, I've talked to our current players, we want to teach our rookies the right way from the very beginning - here is your iPad, here is your locker, here is where you need to be, here is how you need to dress, here are the fields, 'please' and 'thank you' work, push in your chair. We want to really train these guys in the New York Giants' way and I think it's every facet of their life and then certainly what is most obvious, football.

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