EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 29: Will Hernandez #71 of the New York Giants in action against the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The New York Giants offensive line will look vastly different this year with three new starters to the unit.

Jason Leach

The New York Giants were dealt a huge blow last week when Nate Solder, who has been the team’s starting left tackle for the past two seasons, decided to opt-out of the 2020 season.

The Giants and head coach Joe Judge respect and support Solder’s decision as his opting out was due to his son’s battle with cancer, and Solder is a cancer survivor himself.

With Solder gone there will be three new starters on the offensive line. With the first padded practice set to happen in the middle of August, the five men who will start on the line will have to build cohesiveness quickly. The Pittsburgh Steelers led the league in sacks last season with 54 and they come to MetLife for a Week 1 matchup on Sept. 14.

Here’s a look at what the Giants offensive line could look like in Week 1.

Left tackle: Andrew Thomas – The No. 4 pick in the draft will have the responsibility of protecting Daniel Jones’ blindside. Thomas was the only unanimous All-American tackle taken in this draft and is mentally and physically prepared to start Week 1 despite not having any preseason games.

Left guard: Will Hernandez – Hernandez has been the Giants’ most consistent offensive lineman in his two seasons with Big Blue. They will need him to continue to make strides in year three and to be a mentor to the young and inexperienced linemen.

Hernandez, who turns 25 in September, has the potential to be one of the best guards in the league.

Center: Spencer Pulley – The fight to win the starting center job will be one of the most intriguing position battles of training camp. Pulley, Nick Gates, and rookie Shane Lemieux will all be in the mix to be the starter. But based on his experience, having started 26 games in his career, Pulley is the favorite to be the Week 1 starter.

Right guard: Kevin Zeitler – Zeitler and Hernandez are the only starters from last year’s line. The Giants acquired Zeitler in March of 2019 from the Cleveland Browns when they traded Olivier Vernon. In his first year with Big Blue, Zeitler started and appeared in 15 games.

Having started 118 career games, he is by far the most experienced linemen and could be one of the team captains this season.

Right tackle: Nick Gates – Right tackle will be another intriguing position battle to watch. In addition to Nick Gates, Cam Fleming and rookie Matt Peart will compete to be the starter.

Gates is the most versatile lineman on the Giants roster as he started games last season at right tackle and right guard. Shortly after Solder opted out, the Giants gave Gates a two-year contract extension. It’s obvious that the Giants have faith in the 24-year-old Gates, as he seems poised to be a starter in 2020.

On a side note, the Giants may use 12 personnel packages early in the season. They face teams with elite pass rushers in the first three weeks of the season in the Steelers, Bears, and 49ers.

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