The New York Giants drafted Will Beatty in the second round three seasons ago believing that he could be their left tackle of the future. Well, the future is now and one of the great questions about the 2011 season is whether Beatty is ready for his starring role.
Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara and Shawn Andrews are gone. David Diehl is at left guard. Beatty is being counted on to handle DeMarcus Ware, Trent Cole and the other dangerous edge rushers who will be coming from Eli Manning's blind side this season.
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty pushed the motivational button with Beatty Thursday, saying he "still has to earn that job."
"He has not earned this job in the NFL, but in saying that, he has the proper attitude and that's what it's going to take to be a football player and somebody you can count on," Flaherty said.
Beatty, for his part, is confident that he is ready.
"I've played in games with Eli before, he has a feel of what I can do and he knows that as long as I stay focused, as long as my mind is on the game I can protect him as well as anyone else," Beatty said. "Third year being here I know the coaches, I've seen all the plays, I've been through all of it. I just have to make sure I stay focused and work on my footwork and my techniques."
Interesting thay Beatty used the word "focused" twice during my conversation with him. Also interesting that both he and Flaherty said the third-year pro needs to get the "cobwebs" out during this early portion of training camp.
The primary question with the 6-foot-6, 319-pound Beatty seems to revolve around his focus, and on his willingness to make the day-in and day-out commitment necessary to maximize his considerable talent.
"When he's here and we have our hands on, there is nobody that works harder in the classroom or the football field," Flaherty said. "What we try to provide with all of our young players is that when you're not here, you need to continue to develop and study."
Beatty has off the field interests in the fashion world, and his Wikipedia page mentions that he has garnered attention for sewing, piano playing, cooking and drawing among other things. He also said he learned how to play golf during this past offseason.
If he plays well no one will give his off-the field interests a second thought. If he doesn't? Well, this is New York. Beatty disagrees with the notion that his off-field interests should be a concern.
"When you're at work you're working. When your at home and you have free time you use that time to decompress, to relax," Beatty said, adding that he gained about 15 pounds while working out this offseason. "I've been working out four days a week. Even though I say I'm going golfing and things like that I'm still hitting the weight room, hitting the gym, trying to be 319, 320."
Beatty said there is "no animosity" between himself and the veteran Diehl, who has moved one spot to the right on the line to make way for Beatty to have this opportunity.
"We have to be on the same page, we have to focus and we have to communicate," Beatty said. "If you have animosity between one another that's when you both start messing up. That's when we look bad and we make the team look bad, and we make Eli's jersey dirty."
If Beatty can keep Eli's jersey clean then the Giants will know they have found their left tackle for the next few seasons.