Jon Halapio has gone from journeyman guard bouncing around the NFL hoping for an opportunity, to desperation fill in last season for the injury-ravaged New York Giants, to potential starter at a new position.
After filling in decently at guard late last season, Halapio now finds himself in competition with Brett Jones for the Giants’ starting center job. That is a position he only began to learn in earnest last season.
“I tell everybody this – Brett Jones is my best friend,” Halapio (pronounced hah-LAH-pee-o) told the team’s official website. “And when I got here in 2016 as a practice squad player, I was at guard and Brett is the reason why I am here. He taught me how to play center. He taught me snapping and stepping – just different things about being the center. So he’s the one that’s helped me tremendously from when I first got here to switch over to center. I give a big credit out to him, and yeah, we’re just both competing right now, man, and I think competition brings out the best in both of us.”
Let’s look a bit closer at Halapio as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.
2017 season in review
Halapio earned a spot on the Giants’ practice squad after the preseason. He was promoted to the active roster in early October when the team needed additional offensive line depth. Halapio, who has also had stints with the New England Patriots, Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals, played in his first 10 NFL games and made six starts at right guard after injuries decimated the line. Halapio finished with a Pro Football Focus grade of 44.0, which was in PFF’s “poor” category.
When the Giants allowed Weston Richburg, a quality center, to leave via free agency the assumption was that Jones would be his replacement. The former CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman was Richburg’s caddy for the past couple of years, and filled in well last season when Richburg was felled by a concussion.
Now, though, Halapio vs. Jones appears to be an honest-to-goodness competition. And Halapio might be winning it. Coach Pat Shurmur warned media in attendance not to read too much into it, but at the last OTA media was granted access to, Halapio took all of the first-team reps at the center spot.
“He’s done a very good job. Pee-o is very smart, he’s got good instincts. He snaps the ball well, which is a real refreshing thing for a center ... That was supposed to be humorus,” Shurmur said to chuckles from assembled media. “He does all those things well, and he’s very competitive. He knows how to play the game.
“I think Jonesy’s doing the same. They’re just in there competing. I wouldn’t over-evaluate who’s getting the first-team reps but I think if you’re talking about Pee-o specifically he’s really sort of opened our eyes that he’s got a chance to play.”
Both Halapio and Jones, of course, have guard experience. It follows then that whoever loses the competition at center will be one of team’s reserve offensive linemen, capable of filling in at either spot. That’s a nice situation.