Despite Tom Coughlin saying early in OTAs that the team would "probably try some different combinations" along the offensive line as they seek to replace the injured Will Beatty, the New York Giants didn't really do that this spring. The first team that opened OTAS -- Ereck Flowers at left tackle, Justin Pugh at left guard, Weston Richburg at center, Geoff Schwartz at right guard, Marshall Newhouse at right tackle -- also closed the mandatory mini-camp.
That would lead you to believe the Giants have committed themselves to that alignment -- provided everyone stays healthy and no big roster moves are made. Maybe, just maybe, though that isn't the case. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty opened the door on Thursday, though, to a possible re-configuration of the line before the season begins in September. Particularly a change at right tackle.
Asked if he was "comfortable" with Newhouse, entering his fifth season, starting at right tackle Flaherty, intrestingly, said "I don't know if I'm comfortable with it."
"Marshall, I really like what I've seen in particular this mini-camp with him, but we've had Brandon Mosley out there," Flaherty said. It's gonna come from one of those two guys I believe right now.
"The third option is Justin Pugh."
The seemingly forgotten Mosley played inside during OTAs, but moved out to right tackle and worked with the second team during mini-camp.
A 2012 fourth-round pick, Mosley has never been able to establish himself. He spent his rookie season on IR due to an ankle injury. In 2013, he got his first professional start matched up against Ndamukong Suh and the Detroit Lions in a late-season game, but broke his hand on the first series of plays. Last season, Mosley was the leading candidate to replace the retired Chris Snee until a back injury in training camp derailed him.
Flaherty said the 26-year-old Mosley "absolutely" still has an opportunity with the Giants.
"Last year he was having a good training camp and he got hurt, he had a back issue. From there that's where I guess the burial started because he was out," Flaherty said. "It's one of those things where you have to have a little bit of Lady Luck behind you to stay healthy, and he's a prime example of it."
What about Pugh? After two seasons at right tackle the Giants ended a lot of speculation by moving the 2013 first-round pick inside to left guard. They stayed the course after Beatty's injury, and Pugh has accepted the change and prepared accordingly.
Would the Giants really move him back outside?
"I think that he likes playing and I love guys who like playing. I think any position that you put him at, he would play it. He would like to be a guy that is settled in one position. Most guys are that way. I think you probably get that feeling from him more than anything," Flaherty said. "He would only get better at the tackle position for us. Is he a better guard than tackle? He is going to be a good football player."
Read whatever you like into that comment.
As for Newhouse, both Flaherty and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo were complementary in their remarks toward him.
"He's played and he's really excited about having another opportunity to be a starter. Once you lose that and it gets away from you you're gonna go one of two ways. What I've found as a coach is a guy's going to settle in and say OK I'm a backup for my career, or a guy's gonna say man I get another opportunity I'm gonna grab it by the throat and not let it go," Flaherty said. "He seems to me that he's going to seize this opportunity."
Here is McAdoo:
"Marshall has played a little bit of everywhere. I was with him in the past when he first got into the league. He has played just about every position. I believe he even snapped the ball at one point. He is a smart guy. He gets the game. He is very nimble-footed. We need to get some pads on and get out there and get a look at him with the defense moving and be physical. He has done it before and he has done it at a high level before and he will have an opportunity to be a major contributor this year."
Maybe, though, that opportunity won't be as a full-time starter. We will have to wait and see.