Despite his struggles at left tackle as a rookie, the New York Giants have been steadfast as an organization that the 2015 first-round pick is their left tackle. You know the story — they didn’t draft a replacement, and veteran tackles were courted for the right side, not the left.
“I’m grateful that they believe in me,” Flowers said on Friday. “I’m just looking to get better.”
Flowers played through an ankle injury last season and admitted during a brief session with the media that he didn’t feel completely healthy until OTAs began this spring.
For Flowers, improvement is all about refining and trusting his technique. Former offensive line coach Pat Flaherty used to talk about how Flowers, during his rookie campaign, would get away from his technique at times. Flowers, who said he is primarily working on learning to punch more often, admitted as much.
New offensive line coach Mike Solari said working with Flowers is “exciting” because of his potential.
“The thing with Ereck is he’s got a lot of ability, a lot of potential. The key thing we have to do with Ereck is develop the consistency. It’s exciting to work with someone like Ereck,” Solari said. “The hardest thing in training camp is to be able to develop those habits and make them so that you can put them to work in a game environment. We’re working at it every day. Every day, we’ve got to be able to transfer that to the preseason to the regular season and he’s working.”
Asked about Flowers on Friday, coach Ben McAdoo referenced his technique — and who Flowers practice against every day.
“Ereck Flowers is a young man who is learning to trust his technique,” McAdoo said. He's fighting hard out there. OV (Olivier Vernon) is not someone who is going to make it really easy on him. So he's learning to battle with a good competitor out there.”
In typical coach-speak, Solari referred to whoever lines up against Flowers or any of his linemen as “faceless objects.” He did admit, however, that “there’s different people that put different stress on you, absolutely.”
Vernon, signed to a mega-contract as a free agent by the Giants to jump start the team’s moribund pass rush, is one such player. He has given Flowers fits throughout training camp.
Flowers said Vernon is a “great player.”
“We’re just looking to make each other better. Every day go out there and work,” he said.
For his part, Vernon was complementary of Flowers.
“Flowers is going to be a really good player, man. Right now it is all about getting each other better. He helps me out just as far as when it comes to the pass rushing. As young as Flowers is, he is ahead of the game as far as what he knows and his athletic ability,” Vernon said. “Once he starts getting more knowledge of the game and he puts it with his athletic ability, he is going to be even better, man. I like going against Ereck, just to get each other better.
“Ereck is strong, man. He is a young kid, but he is strong. He has strong hands ... he has great athletic ability. He kind of reminds me of Brandon Albert a little bit with how athletic he is.”
Vernon practiced against Albert the past two seasons in Miami. An eight-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler, Albert has 106 career starts.
If Vernon is right and Flowers can match the type of career Albert has had the Giants’ faith in the young tackle will be rewarded.