EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - NOVEMBER 10: Nick Gates #65 of the New York Giants in action against the New York Jets during their game at MetLife Stadium on November 10, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Nick Gates will officially be the New York Giants’ starting center to begin the 2020 campaign, per head coach Joe Judge.

The New York Giants‘ starting center spot contained a very competitive position battle in camp this year. Spencer Pulley has experience but the young Nick Gates is versatile and possesses a significant amount of potential, which made for a difficult decision for this mostly new staff led by rookie head coach Joe Judge.

But with the regular season approaching, the organization has ultimately decided to go with Gates, who will expand that versatility and play a position he’s never played before in the NFL.

“We’re going to start Nick Gates at center,” Judge told reporters on Saturday. “He’s done a good job for us through camp. Spencer’s done a tremendous job competing. We’re very happy with both of those guys on the roster. We’re very fortunate to have both guys working at the center position.”

Gates appeared in 16 games last year with a trio of starts. The Giants are high on the Nebraska product, having inked him to a two-year extension in early August.

The state of the offensive line

With the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers right around the corner (Monday, 7:10 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium), the Giants will go with an offensive line group encompassing three new starters. Instead of Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, and Mike Remmers respectively at left tackle, center, and right tackle, Big Blue will start rookie Andrew Thomas, Gates, and free-agent acquisition Cam Fleming. Guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler are the only returning starters from 2019.

New York will additionally start two players who don’t possess any pro-level experience at their respective positions, with Thomas joining Gates in those regards.

It’s a unit that’s struggled mightily in recent years and must step up in order for this young offensive group to ultimately develop and flourish.

The chemistry is evidently important, which is why the unit may continue to struggle in the first few weeks of the new campaign. But as time progresses, an aspect to focus on will be whether it shows any sort of improvement.

An unsung hero of the group may be Fleming, who was likely slated to be a backup prior to Solder’s July opt-out. His experience on the highest level should benefit the Giants on the right side of the line, and he could portray a mentor-type mentality for the younger linemen who will require as much assistance as possible.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.