The Giants have to move forward with different offensive line pieces due to numerous injuries to the unit.
It’s not a perfect unit whatsoever.
Not a good one, even.
The New York Giants offensive line has experienced its fair share of issues for…well…years at this point. This ideology rings true in 2021, and while the unit did perform better than usual this past Thursday in a loss to the Washington Football Team, recent injuries will cause the group to deal with more adversity.
The team placed left guard Shane Lemieux, who’s been dealing with a knee injury since training camp, on injured reserve last week. The second-year player will miss at least two more games and won’t be eligible to return to practice until after the Giants’ Week 4 matchup with New Orleans (Sunday, Oct. 3).
Then on Thursday night, center Nick Gates, who started at left guard in place of Lemieux, went down with a lower leg fracture against the Football Team and is now done for the season.
It’s a group that already possessed glaring problems. These health-related issues make it worse.
How will the unit progress?
The Giants added to the depth portion of the offensive line via a pair of trades back in August. New York constructed a deal for then-Bengals interior lineman Billy Price before doing the same thing for then-Ravens interior lineman Ben Bredeson.
Those moves have proven to be crucial; both individuals saw time Thursday night and could very much be in the starting lineup for the time being.
Moving forward, the unit may indeed look like it looked Thursday, with Andrew Thomas, Bredeson, Price, Will Hernandez, and Nate Solder residing at the five spots from left to right.
Bredeson may only have a temporary role as a starter if Lemieux returns to the game field in a timely manner, but he’d be a decent reserve option.
Fielding Price might not be ideal, however. The 2018 first-round draft pick isn’t a proven starter in this league and struggled mightily against Washington, recording an abysmal 28.1 Pro Football Focus grade while allowing a sack and committing two penalties.
Now, the depth on the Giants offensive line is as important as ever, because it’s become clear how quickly things can change due to injury. I mean, two new offensive linemen are already in the starting lineup two weeks into the new season.
Behind Price on the depth chart, the Giants employ Matt Skura after recently protecting him on the practice squad for Week 2 and subsequently elevating him to the active roster.
It’s beneficial Skura possesses the necessary experience in case he needs to assume a larger role than the one he currently has. The fifth-year player started 51 games for Baltimore from 2017-20 and appeared in 54 total. Thus, it’s not like the Giants would be throwing an inexperienced lineman to the fire in the event Price further struggles.
But as far as the guard spot is concerned, New York’s collection of depth is non-existent. Bredeson was the last reserve option at either guard spot and the only offensive linemen the Giants employ on the practice squad are tackles Jackson Barton and Korey Cunningham.
This current situation might cause the Giants to make a move for an interior offensive lineman, whether it be via free agency or the trade market.
They must move fast though — my guess is they don’t want to head into the Week 3 matchup against Atlanta with no options in the event someone suffers an injury or struggles.
Veteran interior linemen Joe Dahl and Nick Easton are two of the guards still residing in free agency. Both possess decent starting experience in this league, but it’s unclear whether either would join a team in the middle of the season just to be a backup and possibly an eventual roster cut if and when Lemieux returns to the game field.
The Giants also had a pair of interior linemen — Zach Fulton and Joe Looney — retire during training camp. New York obviously sees something in either of the individuals given it decided to make an investment in them prior to the regular season. Maybe the organization could convince one of them to return to the team in a reserve role?
These are moves at least worth pondering. At this point, given the sheer lack of depth on the interior of the line, any move to bring in reinforcements is worth pondering and would need to be made ahead of Sunday’s game against the Falcons.
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