EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The fan base and the media might not believe in the right side of the New York Giants offensive line, but the players who anchor that line certainly do.
A week ago, center Weston Richburg stood at a Quest Diagnostics Training Center podium and said he believed the line "can do some really great things together."
Wednesday, left guard Justin Pugh stood at the same podium and passionately defended the often-criticized duo of right guard John Jerry and right tackle Marshall Newhouse.
"John Jerry's gotta be one of the most underrated guards in the NFL. If you look at the way he plays and the way he carries himself, literally every game he stepped out there and played at the drop of a hat ... he's a guy that I look up to. He's all business. He comes out here, doesn't say anything, not griping about not being the starter at the beginning of the season. I really think what he brings to the table is invaluable. I think a lot of people should recognize the value that he brings to this team."
"Marshall's a great player. He's been in this system and he knows how to play in this system ... I'm very, very confident in Marshall as our right tackle. He's a helluva player.
"Everyone wants to try to get on the right side of the line, but I have no worries whatsoever. I know what those guys bring to the table."
Pugh lauded the hard work the Giants put in under former offensive line coach Pat Flaherty, but said the addition of new offensive line coach Mike Solari is huge because of his vast experience in the offensive scheme the Giants run.
"He's unbelievable, he knows it inside and out. He's been in this offense for five years, or his whole career, basically. He knows it in and out more than any of us because he's been in it for so long," Pugh said.
The offensive line, Pugh said, has been watching film from Solari's days with the 49ers to learn the nuances of the system.
"Even if you get the block done there's always something you can do to be a little bit better. We're striving for perfection right now."
The fan base has been up in arms since the Giants did not sign any big-name free agents or draft a single lineman. Pugh said he was "not surprised" the team kept the status quo.
"I think we did some really good things last year," Pugh said. "Obviously we've gotta run the ball better. Things that we have worked on already I think we're already going to be better. The guys in the room I know they can play.
"We've got competition in the room. We didn't draft a guy, we didn't sign a guy, so obviously they feel comfortable with who we have."
The Giants will also be a lot more comfortable is Ereck Flowers shows improvement in his second season. Pugh believes he will.
"Ereck came back with a great mentality, he was ready to work. Last year as a rookie it's just a loooong season for those guys, they never really get to take a break," Pugh said. "For him to get away, take a break, re-focus, the sky's the limit for him. I can see already the mentality he has, and he wants to go out there and be great."
Pugh, who will play left guard for the second straight year, believes settling in at one spot will help him.
"I really enjoy being that versatile player that can play wherever they need me to, but to go into the season knowing left guard is my position and I can really, really focus on that, I don't have to slide out to left tackle for half the reps it's huge for me."
Giants fans can only hope the optimism shown by Richburg and Pugh turns out to be well-founded.