Whatever plans the Giants had for their reconstituted offensive line this upcoming season were shattered on Wednesday.
Will Beatty, projected as the starting left tackle, suffered a torn pectoral muscle while weight training and required surgery that will sideline him for five to six months, a source said. The procedure was performed by Dr. Frank Cordasco at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
It's unclear what the Giants will do to fill the position. They selected Ereck Flowers (University of Miami) in the first round of the draft and have spoken of him as their left tackle of the future, but it's unclear if he will be prepared for the important job of protecting Eli Manning's blind side as a rookie. Another option could be moving Justin Pugh from right tackle to left and using Flowers at right tackle, but the Giants were likely already considering having Pugh play one of the guard positions.
"We believe that he has a skill set to play left tackle in this league," offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said of Flowers at the rookie minicamp earlier this month. "We are going to give him opportunities to train out there. We will give him opportunities to train at multiple spots. That doesn't mean we are going to pencil him in to one spot right now."
Other options at either tackle position include seventh-round pick Bobby Hart (whom the Giants said they would convert to a guard), Stony Brook University product Michael Bamiro, and veteran guard Geoff Schwartz who played right tackle briefly last season.
Beatty had started 46 straight games on the offensive line for the Giants. He had a difficult season in 2013, but bounced back last year and became one of the team's steadiest linemen. He's missed time during his career due to a broken bone in his foot and a detached retina.
Beatty, 30, will likely begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a possibility of returning to the field in November. By then, he might be a stabilizing force for the line. Or, he could have already lost his job for good if Flowers plays well. Beatty's contract runs through the 2017 season, but the Giants would generate salary cap savings of between $4.1 and $6.825 million if they cut him in 2016 or 2017.
It seemed the Giants were already anticipating that outcome.
"A franchise left tackle is a rare commodity," Giants vice president of player evaluation Marc Ross said when the Giants drafted Flowers. "There are not many of those guys around the league and we think this guy has the ability, the upside, the potential, the toughness, the smarts and the competitiveness to be a franchise left tackle for us."
They may be about to find out if they are correct.