Giants offensive line irons out West Coast wrinkles

Justin Pugh, right, looks to block linebacker Keith

Justin Pugh, right, looks to block linebacker Keith Rivers during training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (Aug. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: James Escher

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Thursday's practice ended with an exciting play. Eli Manning took a quick drop and fired a pass intended for Victor Cruz in the end zone. Before the ball got to its target, though, linebacker Jacquian Williams jumped in the air. The pass struck Williams in the helmet and caromed up before fellow linebacker Jameel McClain grabbed it for an interception.

Earlier in the practice, a similar play took place lower down the depth chart. Defensive end Emmanuel Deke blocked a Curtis Painter pass. After a tip drill for the jump ball, fellow defensive end Jordan Stanton caught it and returned it for a would-be pick-six.

Those may be nice plays for the defense, but to the offense it was cause for alarm. If the Giants are going to be a West Coast offense that relies on short, brisk passes and quick throws, then they must stop defensive players from jumping at the line of scrimmage to bat down passes. It had happened several times throughout camp and came to a head on Thursday.

That's why shortly after practice the offensive line met to discuss the issue.

"It's something that we've been working on and seeing the problems that occur from changing a protection and us maybe thinking that it's a five-step drop to having the quarterbacks let us know we have to make an adjustment over here," right tackle Justin Pugh told Newsday.

Pugh was engaged with Williams when he swatted the pass that ended practice.

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"It's getting everyone on the same page and it's something that we're going to correct quickly," Pugh said. "We already have it down, so I feel good about it. After the practice we talked about it and it's something we fixed."

That's been one of the glitches so far in the new offense. The line makes its changes in protection schemes based on the play called in the huddle. But Eli Manning (or whoever the quarterback is) communicates changes to the play with the receivers without verbal cues. The result is that Pugh is blocking for one play and Manning is running another.

Pugh said when Manning makes a shorter drop the tackle needs to be more aggressive in his set and come out stronger and not allow the defender any space. Had he been closer to Williams on the Thursday play, for example, the linebacker would not have been free to jump.

"There are a lot of different ways you can switch it up and it's something that should be easily correctable," Pugh said of the technique on short passes. "It's just a matter of making sure the tackle knows the ball is coming out a little bit quicker."

And that's taken care of?

"We got it," Pugh said.

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