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What we learned on Day 1: Giants' offensive line still jumbled

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What was the biggest takeaway from Day 1 of training camp for the Giants?

Weston Richburg talks to reporters on Tuesday
Weston Richburg talks to reporters on Tuesday
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest issue with the New York Giants "broken" offense last season was the sieve-like nature of an over-matched offensive line that could neither protect quarterback Eli Manning nor consistently open anything resembling a hole for a running back. The biggest thing we learned during Day 1 of training camp is that the line is still a huge question mark.

If you want to be an optimist, you look at the line, call it a work in progress and believe it will settle in and be just fine once rehabbing players are fully up to speed. If you are a pessimist, you look at the current situation, call it a jumbled mess and believe that the Giants are in for another season of shuffling offensive linemen each week.

Perhaps the best way to describe the line as camp gets into full swing is "unsettled." Will that still be the case when the Giants open the season against the Detroit Lions? Let's look at the situation.

Geoff Schwartz is set at left guard. Second-year man Justin Pugh is the right tackle. There are no concerns at either of those positions. J.D. Walton, who hasn't played in a game since early in the 2012 season, appears almost certain to the starting center. Second-round pick Weston Richburg has an outside shot at that job, but Richburg is also busy competing for the starting spot at right guard. Right now, it might be fair to think he has a better shot at that job.

So, let's focus on the left tackle and right guard positions.

Left Tackle

During the spring, Will Beatty said he was certain he would be cleared to participate at some point in training camp after rehabbing his broken leg. The good news here is that Beatty is already on the field. He is considered 'limited,' and is working his way back gradually, but he did take a handful of snaps on Tuesday.

Charles Brown, signed as a free-agent from the New Orleans Saints as a potential swing tackle, took the first reps of camp at left tackle. Eventually, though, you have to expect Beatty to move back into that spot as he works his way back into condition.

"I feel it's still my spot," he said On Tuesday. "I'm going to go out there and claim the spot until somebody says, ‘It's no longer yours.' I'm not going to give it up. You're going to have to take it.

"I came in here when I was a rookie wanting to play. I didn't come here wanting to sit behind somebody. They allowed me the opportunity to play left tackle and get a little bit of right, some tight end stuff, trying to get some special teams. I've got this left tackle locked down and yes, I've been through a few injuries. But everyone goes through injuries. There is a 100% statistic rate of guys getting injured in the NFL. You can't say, ‘Woe is me' because I got injured. It's how do you respond from that, how do you get back from that. I've been blessed that this is not a damaging, permanent injury that I can't recover from. In that case itself, I'm just going out there trying to have fun and counting my blessings."

Truth is, this HAS to be Beatty's spot. At his best, which he was when he had a dominant 2012 season, Beatty is a far superior player to Brown, James Brewer, Troy Kropog or anyone else the Giants have tried at left tackle. Brown may be an adequate fill-in at left tackle, but his history suggests he is better suited for the right side.

Of course, Beatty played poorly last season when he allowed 13 of the 40 sacks suffered by Giants quarterbacks and compiled an unsightly -11.7 Pro Football Focus grade, included -19.9 in pass protection.

Beatty needs snaps, both to build continuity with Schwartz and to work through whatever technique issues caused his play to falter so severely last season. The sooner he is able to start taking the majority of first-team reps, the better.

Until we see Beatty on the field playing like he did in 2012 (+19.0 PFF grade, three sacks allowed) the left tackle spot will remain unsettled.

Right Guard

Tuesday morning, third-year man Brandon Mosley talked about the opportunity in front of him with Chris Snee having retired.

"I'm very excited to get this opportunity," Mosley said. "I'm going to work my hardest and try to win the spot. JJ (John Jerry) is a good player, and so is anybody else who is playing the guard position. If they weren't they wouldn't be here. It'll be a good competition.

"I'm going to work my hardest to win the position. If somebody else does, then it's the better man."

After only a handful of 11-on-11 snaps on Tuesday Mosley was carted off the field with what the Giants said was an upset stomach. So it goes with what has been a revolving door at right guard ever since Snee was placed on IR after three games a season ago.

Mosley may yet win the job. He has to stay on the field, however, to do it. The 2012 fourth-round pick spent his rookie season on IR, then broke his hand when he finally received an opportunity to start in a late-season game in 2013.

Jerry started for the past two seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Entering his fifth NFL season, Jerry is working his way back from knee surgery and will have to get back into football shape before he can realistically compete for the spot. Jerry admitted on Tuesday that the knee surgery left him unable to run and that he isn't in playing shape.

"The main thing for me right now is to get into shape. I missed so much time in the spring," Jerry said. "We've got that extra preseason game. That will definitely help me out."

Jerry would, of course, love to win the spot.

"If you're in this game and you don't want to be a starter, you're in the wrong profession," Jerry said. "I definitely think that I want to be a starter. That's very important to me."

The beneficiary of Mosley's tummy-ache and Jerry's being limited to only a few snaps as he works his way back is Richburg. Drafted as the center of the future, Richburg could end up as the right guard of the present. Tuesday it seemed as if Richburg was on the field almost non-stop, running second- and third-team at center, and getting a healthy number of first-team snaps at guard.

"He played a lot of guard today, along with a lot of center, and it wasn't necessarily designed to be like that when he came out, but that's the way it gravitated," said head coach Tom Coughlin. "He is a smart kid and it's good for our team if he can handle it."

Richburg seems to be handling the double-duty well.

"For me to be able to play guard and center that will really help the team a lot," he said Tuesday morning. "We're all working here to be starters. It's only five guys that get called up.

Richburg might end up being one of those five.

"We're really aware of the past history of the offensive line of the Giants. We want to be able to carry on that tradition."