Giants' patchwork offensive line prepares to face sack leaders in Kansas City
Will Beatty is aiding the inexperienced offensive linemen as much as he can this week, going over film and technique and the daunting Kansas City defensive front. But he's also asking a higher authority for some help.
"For them, I pray that everyone's mind is set," Beatty said, "that we don't look at the negative in the past and allow it to affect our future."
Somewhere, Eli Manning is saying: Amen!
The Giants are coming off their worst offensive line performance in years, about to face the team with the most sacks and the player with the most sacks, and they're doing it with a line that is being duct-taped together due to injuries. Veterans Chris Snee and David Baas missed practice Thursday for the second straight day and might not be ready to play Sunday. David Diehl practiced, but is coming off thumb surgery and may not be available for another week.
That could leave a lineup that includes three players who had never started an NFL game before this season. Justin Pugh, the rookie first-round pick who starts at right tackle? He could be the third-most experienced player in terms of starts on the line. He's got three.
"They've got to take everything they can," Tom Coughlin said of his green linemen in practice. "Even the jog-throughs are critical. It's obviously not full speed, but they have to take everything they possibly can, try to see everything they possibly can and then get them to play full-speed and not just sit there and be looking around at what they expect. The only thing you can do is accelerate the practice time and put them out there and that's what we're doing."
It's a bit of a scramble for a team that won Super Bowls on the strength of offensive line continuity. "Seemingly we've been doing that all year, so it's not a departure from what's going on," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of the shuffling. "I guess down the road it will be good for us, but right now, it does unquestionably slow down your progress."
This hasn't exactly been the Industrial Revolution in terms of progress for the Giants lately. They're last in the league in rushing, having mounted no more than 60 running yards per game for three straight games for the first time in their history. They allowed seven sacks of Manning last week against a Panthers team that had 3.5 entering the game.
The good news, if there is any, is that the new faces haven't really been part of that debacle. Jim Cordle and James Brewer figure to be starters in place of Baas and Snee, but the Giants have been working on different permutations in practice. If Diehl can play, he could be at guard.
Perhaps the most important job on the line will belong to Pugh at right tackle as he faces the league's sack leader, Justin Houston (7.5). He'll likely be doing it without the veteran voice of Snee coming in through the left earhole of his helmet.
"We have to go out there and play, no matter who's out there . . . execute and communicate," Pugh said. "I think that's going to be the biggest thing, communicating, whoever's out there just making sure we're on the same page."
And trying to turn the page from last week. "It's time to get out there and show 'em what we can do," Baas said. "No matter who's out there."
Notes & quotes: Baas said he injured his neck late in the game against the Panthers. Although the starting center did not rule himself out Sunday, he might be on the verge of missing a substantial number of games. In 2011, Baas missed five games with a similar neck injury. "It's a lot of the same things," Baas said. "It's something you don't want to mess with too much . . . CB Corey Webster (hip) missed practice Thursday even though Tom Coughlin said he thought he might be cleared. If Webster cannot play Sunday, Aaron Ross would start in his place for a second straight week."