Giants offensive line faces challenge going into next season
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With the NFL season a little more than three months away, it's still difficult to say whether the New York Giants are finally going to have a line that will make Daniel Jones and the offensive effective.
The group has been the Giants weakest link through five straight losing seasons. The exception might be 2018 when running back Saquon Barkley had one of the best rookie seasons in league history. It was mostly him, not the line.
The past three years have been a nightmare offensively and much has changed. Former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll was hired to replace Joe Judge after the 4-13 record last season. One of his first hires was bringing in Bobby Johnson from Buffalo to coach the O-line, the same job he had with the Bills.
Johnson isn't feeling pressure. His goal is simply to get the line to meet his expectations. That's be tough mentally and physically, be football smart, come prepared and be dependable.
Through the recent organized team activities, the line looks very different. Left tackle Andrew Thomas, who is coming off ankle surgery, is the only real holdover although he is not working out now.
Shane Lemieux is back at left guard after missing all but the season opener with a knee injury. The rest of the group is new. Center Jon Feliciano (Bills) and right guard Mark Glowinski (Colts) were signed as free agents and right tackle Evan Neal of Alabama was drafted with the No. 7 pick overall.
It's an interesting group, just based on the nicknames Johnson sometimes uses: A.T. (Thomas), Frenchy (Lemieux), Dirtbag (Feliciano), Glow (Glowinski) and Big Ev (Neal).
There also is depth this year with the Giants signing veterans Max Garcia, Jamil Douglas and Matt Gono as free agents and the drafting of North Carolina teammates Joshua Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan in the third and fifth rounds, respectively.
Johnson isn't talking to his players about the Bills or their potent offense. Likewise, he doesn't want to hear anything about what happened in recent years.
“I think that’s the best way to get them to move on,” Johnson said. “I’m sure there’s things that happened that were bad and you keep worrying about them. They’re going to repeat themselves. We’re going to move on.”
That's exactly what Glowinski and Lemieux said Thursday after practice.
Glowinski said the line wants to dominate, be aggressive and finish. It's anything to put up a W.
“You want to get motivation for each other — what we do might trickle to the other positions on the other side of the ball as well,” he said. “We’re just here to compete at the moment.”
Lemieux said missing last season was frustrating and it pushed him to get back. He build a workout gym in his home and got rid of his red no-contact jersey as soon as the trainers let him, after endless pestering.
The 25-year-old Lemieux is familiar with the Giants history of offensive lines, which helped them win Super Bowls in the 2007 and '11 seasons. He has talked with some of those players: David Diehl, Richie Seubert, Shaun O’Hara and Chris Snee.
“All these guys, we as offensive linemen now and the past couple of years, we’ve felt we needed to live up to those standards and those guys to continue to play the way that they left it,” Lemieux said.
Whether that happens this season remains to be seen.
Daboll has become a big New York Rangers' fan since being hired. He was at Wednesday night's Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning along with general manager Joe Schoen. He was greeted warmly when his face was shown on the scoreboard at Madison Square Garden during New York's 6-2 win.
“What a resilient group,” Daboll said of the Rangers. “Two Game 7s back to back when they’re down, right? Boy, they got off to a fast start, though, yesterday. Getting off to a fast start helps, no matter what sport you play.”
The NHL allowed the Giants to have the Stanley Cup at their facility on Wednesday. Daboll said he didn't touch it.
NOTES: Daboll is uncertain the Giants will practice with another team in training camp. Talks are continuing. ... LB Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 5 pick overall, once again wore a red jersey at practice. He did agility drills with a trainer. ... Daboll said the mandatory minicamp next week will be almost the same as the OTA workouts, just a little longer.
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