With New York Giants backup left tackles Charles Brown and James Brewer nursing injuries, the team has been rolling the dice on several different offensive line combinations.
After all, if anything happened to left tackle Will Beatty, quarterback Eli Manning’s blind site probably shouldn’t be protected by Mark Asper.
This week at practice saw Justin Pugh get reps at left tackle and Brandon Mosley at right. Weston Richburg lined up at left guard and right. Then, there was Geoff Schwartz who, for first the first time all camp, slid over to the right tackle position during Wednesday afternoon’s practice.
Schwartz – the Giants free-agent acquisition from Kansas City who signed a four-year, $16.8 million contract this offseason – had been working entirely at left guard during camp.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I’m comfortable at a lot of different positions,” Schwartz said. “Luckily I have that versatility.
“I started 11 games at right tackle in my career and played pretty much an entire game there last year. I played right tackle at college and I was drafted as a right tackle.”
Originally drafted in the seventh round of the 2008 NFL Draft, Schwartz said his transition to guard came almost by accident. In his first season with the Carolina Panthers, struggles across the offensive line led to a shakeup up front. A positional coach turned to a rookie Schwartz and told him to move over one spot. He’s been at guard ever since.
The 28-year old says the biggest adjustment he had to make was going from facing defensive tackles, to defensive ends. When at tackle, Schwartz doesn’t have the advantage of having a player to both his right and left.
“You have those speed rushers that you don’t have at guard,” Schwartz said. “You are more on an island and really have to focus in on pass rushers because you don’t have the help you have guard.”
With Beatty still rehabbing from a fractured leg suffered in the final game of the regular season, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Beatty will be limited to 20 snaps in the team’s preseason matchup with the New York Jets on Friday. All other starters will play close to 30. That leaves 10 snaps where the new-look offensive line may get some playing time together.
No matter who lines up in front of Manning, Schwartz knows it is imperative the team establish some form of offense versus the Jets. In New York’s last two games, the offense has struggled immensely moving the football and establishing any kind of rhythm. Manning has completed 1-of-9 passes for six yards in the two outings.
“We gotta score points,” Schwartz said. “We need to end drives with touchdowns and we need to show all the progress we’ve made on our offense. This is the week to do it and there really is no other way to put it. We need to get it done this week.”