D.J. Fluker has watched from the sidelines, inactive for three games as the 0-3 New York Giants have posted the league’s worst rushing attack, 32nd in yards per game (48.7) and rushes per game (15.7).
Fluker, the only veteran offensive lineman the Giants added during offseason free agency, could finally get an opportunity to make an impact this Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brett Jones, starting at left guard with Justin Pugh pushed to right tackle to replace Bobby Hart, did not practice Thursday due to a hip injury. Hart is still limited and hasn’t played since leaving after two snaps of the Week 2 game against the Detroit Lions.
As of now, we don’t know who will or will not be able to play on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Or, how the Giants will structure their offensive line if both Hart and Jones are missing.
Fluker, though, admitted on Thursday that this “could be” the opportunity he has been waiting for.
“All I’ve been doing is working on my craft,” Fluker said. “They need to call my number I’ll be ready.”
Fluker worked primarily at right guard during training camp and the preseason, also getting a minimal number of practice reps at right tackle.
“I think there is a competitiveness and a toughness that D.J. brings to the game. The guy loves football, he’s a grinder,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said on Thursday. “He’s a strong man and if we have certain concepts where he’s at the point of attack, that’s been a strength of his in the past, when you look at some of the things he did in the preseason. It certainly could be an asset.”
A 2013 first-round pick by the San Diego Chargers, Fluker started in San Diego for four years before coming to the Giants via free agency. He admitted that not playing, and not even being on the active game day roster for the first three weeks, has been difficult.
“Yeah, it has been. Fighting my pride and everything, so it is hard. You start thinking “am I not good enough to play?” You start second-guessing yourself, your work ethic and everything,” Fluker said. “After a while you’re just like, hey, I know who I am. Be confident in who you are. I know the style of play that I’m used to playing to. Your time will come, you just have to go out there and give it your all every single time. That’s kinda my mindset. I’m just being humble.”
Fluker is a mountainous 6-foot-5, 340+ pound man. He believes he can help the run game, where the Giants are averaging only 3.1 yards per attempt (tied for 28th).
“Honestly, yeah. I think I could make a difference. It’s a team game, but I know my strengths,” Fluker said. “Opportunity calls and I’m in there I’m gonna make it happen.”
The Giants certainly don’t want to have to shuffle their offensive line again. Ideally, Hart would be able to play and Pugh could return to the left guard spot — giving the Giants the group they hoped to have from the beginning.
If that doesn’t happen, perhaps Fluker will finally get the opportunity he has been waiting for.