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David Diehl ready to help - and compete against - Justin Pugh

DAVID DIEHL Offensive lineman Diehl battled knee and

Offensive lineman
Diehl battled knee and back injuries in 2012. The 33-year-old longtime Giant is owed $4.1 million in 2013. Credit: David Pokress

It hasn’t been a very good month for David Diehl. First he had to take a substantial pay cut to stick with the Giants for (presumably) one more year. Then the team went and drafted two offensive linemen. And oh, by the way, the head coach said that the first-round draft pick, Justin Pugh, will start out playing the same position that Diehl was lightly penciled into – right tackle.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old lineman who is the longest tenured of the Giants seems up for the challenge, though.

“That is part of being in the NFL,” Diehl told “It’s about competition and competing. There are always going to be new guys coming in. It definitely does bring competition and that does nothing but help your football team win games.”

Diehl is right, there have been others brought in over the years to compete with the veterans. But this is the first time since 1999 that the Giants have selected an offensive lineman in the first round. And the way the scouts and coaches were talking about Pugh, he may be ready to step in and be the first full-time rookie starter on the line since Chris Snee in 2004.

Still, Diehl is willing to help Pugh and has some advice.
“Everybody is going to talk about the speed of the game, that is number one,” Diehl said. “In the pros, you are playing up against the best of the best, week in and week out. It is about being quick with your reaction time, not being late. In college, if you are a split second late on a blitz pickup, you could still react and be able to adjust to it. In the pros, it’s that split second and it is over. It is education, being a student of the game.”

Diehl knows. He was a starter as a rookie. In fact, other than the round they were selected in, Diehl and Pugh sound very similar coming out of the draft. Both were big linemen. Both had position versatility. Both were known for sound technique and a high football IQ. And both even played college in orange uniforms.

If Pugh starts, then he will be tested. Just like Diehl was.

“When you’re a rookie, they’re going to try and throw whatever they can at you and use it to their advantage,” Diehl said. “As a rookie, you can’t sit here and use youth as an excuse. It is not, because the other 10 guys in the huddle are counting on you to do your job. And, most importantly, know what you are doing each and every play.”

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