Al Thompson
Giants offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz finally played in last night’s preseason game against the Jaguars. Photo by Al Thompson

There will be a lot of new faces on the Giants offense on opening day. The thing is, many of those faces were Giants at the start of last season but for whatever reason, mostly injuries, were unable to get on the field.

Big Blue had over 20 players on injured reserve last year so it’s no surprise the Giants struggled to a 7-9 record.

There are a number of stories of injuries had they not happened, certainly would have given the Giants a better chance for a winning season.

Rookie Odell Beckham, Jr. selected in the first round out of LSU, missed the majority of the training camp, preseason, and the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury.

Beckham did not play until game five but still managed to come down with 91 catches for 1,305 and 12 touchdowns. He was named Rookie of the Year by the Associated press.

Beckham said he is glad he can enter the season through the front door.

“It was more being motivated, being new and trying to find my role,” Beckham said at the OTA’s last week. “Now that I know what my role is, it is easier for me to feel settled. Now that I’m healthy – not being content or complacent – but push yourself and not just to stay healthy.”

One of the Giants significant free agent acquisitions was guard Geoff
Schwartz. The seven-year veteran was set for a solid season, but in the third preseason game against the Jets, he suffered a freak toe injury that sidelined the 6-foot-6, 340 pounder until week 12 against Dallas where he played well only to suffer another injury the following week against Jacksonville that ended his season.

Schwartz said he is glad to have a fresh start.

“I just want to be healthy and contribute,” Schwartz said. “Whether that’s starting over, I don’t know. I definitely feel like I have a long way to go.
I am excited to be back, hopefully at right guard, then go from there.”

With a new center in Weston Richburg, new tackles in rookie Ereck Flowers and Marshall Newhouse, new guards in Justin Pugh (moving in from tackle) and Schwartz, the former Oregon standout knows he will be counted on for leadership.

“Definitely,” Schwartz said. “I think Weston has done a good job taking over the center spot. (Rookie) Ereck (Flowers) has been working in there at tackle. And the other guys, [Newhouse] and Pugh…it’s good to get the veterans in the line, help out the newer guys. We’ll see what we can do.”

Eli Manning said he knows how difficult it was for Schwartz last season.

“I know last year was frustrating for him,” Manning said. “It’s good to have him back. He’s a great leader, a veteran guy, he knows what he’s doing. To have him back in the mix for a full season will be nice.”

Manning talked about all the changes on the guys protecting him. The two-time Super Bowl champion had a very good season in 2014 and wants to build on that. It starts at center where second-year offensive lineman with be Manning third center since Shaun O’Hara retired after the 2010 season.

“There’s a new center so there’s going to be an adjustment,” Manning said. “Richburg was here last year. He got a lot of snaps at guard, so that (moving to center) hasn’t been a big deal.”

With the season-ending pec injury to tackle Will Beatty, rookie Flowers, selected in the first round out of Miami, will need to start the season at left tackle.

“Anytime you have a rookie at left tackle it can be an adjustment,” Manning said. “I think the good thing for him is it’s early and he can be here to learn everything. We’re going to challenge him. He’ll make mistakes but he’s getting live reps from day one with the first group, he hears every call, the more we challenge him, the more we throw at him, the better off he’ll be.”

With all their weapons back on offense the potential for the offense having a big year is there. Big Blue also will have running back Rashad Jennings back, Andre Williams will have a year under his belt and the Giants added Shane Vereen from Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to the running backs corps.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz will also be back. On October 12, against the Eagles, Cruz suffered a torn patellar tendon, prematurely ending his 2014 season. In six games of 2014, Cruz produced 337 receiving yards and a touchdown.

Schwartz said this unit could go places. He said the team is now learning offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s up tempo offense.

“It definitely does (have potential),” Schwartz said. “Being year two, even just today, it wasn’t the crisp-ist at practice. But we have a lot more than we had at this time last year, guys know what they’re doing..we’ve got Odell from the start. Everyone is healthy and ready to go. Vick (Victor Cruz) is coming back eventually so yes, there is a lot of potential.”

16 Jun 15 - Football, Football Training, NFL - Al Thompson - No Comments

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