Former Giants Chris Snee and Rich Seubert visited Giants camp on Thursday. That meant there were more retired starting offensive linemen watching practice than there were active ones participating in it.
Four-fifths of the starting unit that the Giants envisioned just days before the start of their OTAs was unable to practice on Thursday because of injury. The only one who made it on the field was Justin Pugh, who took snaps at left tackle. The rest -- Will Beatty (PUP/pectoral), Geoff Schwartz (ankle), Weston Richburg (knee) and rookie Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) -- were all as useful as Snee and Seubert or, come to think of it, any of the other fans who were looking on.
That left a starting group that began with Pugh and included Adam Gettis, Dallas Reynolds, John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse.
Last week Schwartz said he thought the group the Giants had through the spring and first few days of camp would remain intact heading into the season. Since then, they haven't had the same starting group on consecutive days.
"Certainly you'd want them all out there together every day," coach Tom Coughlin said, "but that's not the way it is."
The issue becomes having the projected starters gel. With such chaos now, it's impossible to make up the snaps that they are missing together. "You have to go on the field and do your work on the field," Coughlin said of building O-line chemistry.
There is also the issue of Pugh. The Giants were glad at first to have him take reps at left tackle in place of Flowers, but it's getting to the point where he also needs to go back to left guard, where he started the camp, the position the Giants view as his future. Pugh has been learning that new guard position and missing time there.
"We'll have to share some time there, depending on how long [Flowers] is out," Coughlin said.
That may not be too long. Flowers was running on the side Thursday and Coughlin said he and Richburg are making good progress. They are considered day-to-day. Schwartz, coming off surgery, will have to be managed for a while, the coach said. "He obviously wasn't doing well enough to stay out there for two days in a row," Coughlin said. "We hope to get him where he can practice hard a couple days a week, but we'll have to see how that goes." And the Giants do not expect Beatty back until well into the season as he recovers from the torn pectoral.
All of which leaves the Giants, who invested so much in trying to solidify that line, struggling to pull together a starting unit with a preseason opener a week from Friday.