The Giants love the continuity of their offensive line, which has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the season for them and one of the keys to their three-game winning streak. It took them a little while to find the right combination - the five who have started all five regular-season games so far didn't work together until the last preseason game - but now that they have it, it seems that these guys are here to stay.
Or are they?
Because lurking in the not-so-distant future is the return of Geoff Schwartz, the big free-agent acquisition of the offseason and the player who was supposed to be the savior of the unit. The Giants signed him to a four-year, $16.8-million deal in March and then in August placed him on injured reserve with a designation to return after he fractured his big toe. He is eligible to practice with the team on Monday and his first game could be the Nov. 3 game against the Colts on Monday Night Football.
That's the when. Finding the where is the issue.
Asked if he has a plan for Schwartz when he returns, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo nodded. Then said: "No."
Rookie Weston Richburg has been all that he was advertised to be when the Giants used a second-round pick on him in May, improving weekly after directly replacing Schwartz at left guard. And veteran John Jerry has played well at right guard, a position manned by Chris Snee for a decade until he announced his retirement at the start of training camp. Brandon Mosley seemed to have the inside track to that job, but a back injury sidelined him, and Jerry won the position. It's hard to imagine the Giants moving either of those effective players from their position to get Schwartz on the field, nevermind what such a move would do to the chemistry and continuity the Giants have been touting the last month.
"Continuity is the key ingredient," Tom Coughlin said. "Being able to do that has helped. Communication is so important. I think that has definitely helped us as we have grown and it has gotten a little bit better."
Coughlin would not speculate on what Schwartz's role would be upon his return. "Let's just get him back," he said. Schwartz has been running and working with trainers on the side for the last two days and said he is ready to go as soon as the rules allow him to.
The coaches might be more of an obstacle to him than the rules.
"The more they play together, the better they get," McAdoo said of his current starting five. "Schwartz has been around and he has been a part of that group. I'm sure he is chomping at the bit to get out there. The more they play together and the more time they spend together and the better we practice, the better we have a chance to play on Sunday."