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Offensive Line Combos If Bobby Hart Can’t Play

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Justin Pugh? Chad Wheeler? Someone else? Who would be the right tackle?

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Giants right tackle Bobby Hart did not practice Thursday because of the ankle injury he suffered Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. How will the Giants re-shuffle their offensive line if Hart can’t play?

Coach Ben McAdoo wasn’t offering any hints as to his preferred combination.

“We have a variety of guys who are talented that can go out there and play at the right tackle spot and we’ll take a look at a variety of guys this week and see how it plays out,” McAdoo said. “We’ll lean towards who can help us put the best five out there.”

Well, the coach won’t speculate. Which, of course, had to be expected. We can, though, so let’s do that. Here are four possibilities.

Justin Pugh

He spent two years as the team’s starting right tackle, and could move out there from his left guard spot if necessary.

“I’m ready to go wherever they need me to go,” Pugh said Thursday following practice. “I want to win games. If someone can’t go, and I got to step up, that’s the nature of the business.”

If Pugh goes to right tackle, Brett Jones probably slides in at left guard. Jones was the first option last year at that spot when Pugh was injured, he’s worked more on that side than D.J. Fluker, and he seems ahead of him on the depth chart, anyway.

Chad Wheeler

The undrafted free agent was a collegiate left tackle, but did get some work late in the preseason on the right side. If the Giants only want to make one change to the line, Wheeler could get the call.

Offensive line coach Mike Solari was recently asked if Wheeler would be the first option to fill in at one of the tackle spots. He deferred.

“Ben will decide that. Obviously, Chad is right up there, but again we got some different guys that can fill in and do a good job there at that spot,” Solari said.

John Jerry

This one doesn’t seem likely at first glance, but Jerry has played a bit at tackle during his career. Question is, does the 31-year-old move well enough to pass protect on the edge? If Jerry were to go outside, Jones again would seem like the likely candidate to slot in at right guard.

D.J. Fluker

I will put this here for discussion, but it appears to be like the least likely of the four options the Giants seem to have. Fluker played guard his last two seasons with the San Diego Chargers, the Giants have used him almost exclusively at guard, and they have been insistent that they see him in that spot rather than outside.

“D.J., I feel, can help us at guard. Can he play tackle? Yes. I think he has characteristics, his ability, he’s a stronger player at guard,” Solari said.

Final Thoughts

If Hart can’t go — you know, it is sort of difficult to halt 300-pound pass rushers on one good leg — my $.02 is the best combination would be Pugh to right tackle and Jones to left guard. We know Pugh can play right tackle, even if it isn’t his best position. Jones is a more known commodity than Wheeler, and has shown in limited opportunities that he can do the job inside. As for Fluker, he’s a massive man (340-350 pounds) whose best asset is strength and primary liability seems to be movement, which is why the Giants believe he’s better suited to play inside.

Anyway, for months here at Big Blue View we called for the Giants to acquire a veteran swing tackle — yes, a Marshall Newhouse-type player. They didn’t. If Hart can’t go, it’s going to be interesting to see how they fill that hole.