The Giants were planning on getting rookie guard Shane Lemieux some game experience this week.
He may see more than that.
With Will Hernandez on the COVID-19/reserve list and almost certainly ruled out for Monday’s game against the Buccaneers, Lemieux, listed as the backup on the depth chart, could become an emergency starter for the team. That is if he is able to play at all.
Lemieux was one of eight players on the active roster and practice squad who were flagged as having been in contact with Hernandez and kept away from the rest of the team Thursday. Others included offensive linemen Andrew Thomas, Nick Gates, Cam Fleming and Spencer Pulley along with practice squadder Chad Slade, as well as practice squad wide receiver Binjimen Victor.
Because they were not "high risk" contacts with Hernandez, however, the Giants expect to have most of those players back on the field on Friday pending negative tests and a lack of symptoms. Good thing, too, because guard Kevin Zeitler was the only regular starter on the offensive line who practiced on Thursday.
Hernandez has never missed an offensive play in the 2 1⁄2 seasons since he was drafted with a second-round pick in 2018, a streak of 2,523 offensive snaps. Lemieux has played two offensive snaps — both as a fullback.
"Shane is definitely an aggressive player," Joe Judge said. "He’s definitely got that bruiser mentality. He’s settling in a lot technically. He’s shown a lot of improvement throughout the year. He’s definitely a guy that wants to get after it, wants to play physical, wants to play aggressive . . . He’s really shown a lot of growth for us."
He seems poised to replace Hernandez, though the Giants conceivably could move Zeitler to left guard and play Lemieux at right guard to avoid having two rookies next to each other on the left side in Thomas and Lemieux. They could also have Pulley and starting center Gates on the field together in some combination at center and guard.
"He’ll be in the mix with different guys that may factor into that position," Judge said of Lemieux. " . . . We have confidence in Shane. I would expect him to play regardless of what the scenario is."
Jones: I had PPE
Daniel Jones was mostly mum on being caught maskless in Manhattan last Friday, but he did hint that the incriminating videos of the incident may have further context.
"There is some information," Jones said when asked about the images that emerged on social media of him and teammates in a restaurant and bar without masks and not social distancing. "I had PPE and certainly need to make sure I’m wearing it. But like I said, we’re not going to comment anymore on it. Coach has certainly addressed it."
The quarterback otherwise deferred to Judge’s comments earlier this week and an insistence on keeping discussions "internal," including any indication of whether he or other teammates were fined by the team.
Hernandez was not among the Giants players on that Friday night outing, and Judge said he is not aware of any indication that his positive test stemmed from that incident.
The only Giants player who did not practice on Thursday due to non-COVID reasons was running back Devonta Freeman (ankle). WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe), CB Darnay Holmes (neck), S Adrian Colbert (shoulder) and WR C.J. Board (concussion) were limited.