Spencer Pulley started 16 games at center for the Los Angeles Chargers a season ago. With the Chargers signing Mike Pouncey to play that spot this season, Pulley found himself on the outside looking last week when cuts were made by NFL teams to reach the 53-man roster lit.
Pulley was one of six players awarded to the Giants, who also added two more free-agent signings in a sudden and dramatic roster makeover. I caught up with the 25-year-old, entering his third NFL season, Wednesday in the Giants’ locker room. Here is a quick Q&A with the Giants’ new backup center/guard.
Ed: Are you a little bit surprised to be here? You were a 16-game starter last year.
Pulley: Right. I had no idea a couple days ago I’d be on the other side of the country. That’s the way the business works, the business side of it. I’m very happy to be here. I was a little surprised at how fast everything happened, but you’ve gotta be ready to roll with it. That’s just how it goes.
Ed: Did you feel like you played well last year?
Pulley: I thought I played pretty well. I had some injury stuff toward the end of the year that I think, not to make excuses, but the last half of the year I probably didn’t play as well as I think I can play. I don’t know if that had any part of the whole decision, but that’s what I would say.
Ed: You didn’t see being released coming?
Pulley: They signed [Mike] Pouncey, so I always knew it was a possibility. But as a player I just went through it not thinking about it, I’m just going to play football.”
Ed: I don’t know if you’re aware of what’s happened here but there’s eight new players here -- 15 percent of the roster since Saturday. That’s kinda crazy.
Pulley: Yeah. it is crazy.
Ed: Is there something that’s typical of the NFL in that, or that tells you how the NFL is in terms of the business side?
Pulley: That’s the way the NFL goes. People are always in and out. I can’t say anything about the team that was here, but from what I’ve heard I think Coach is trying to establish a new culture or mindset around here. I don’t know if that’s part of it. It’s my second day.”
Ed: Have they told you anything about what the opportunity is going to be here for you?
Pulley: Not a whole lot. They’ve told me I can play center and guard, to work in there and get used to the playbook and just kinda work in and see where it goes from there.
Ed: You have a preference? Are you more comfortable at one or the other, or does it not matter?
Pulley: This time last year I would have said center, obviously, because that’s where I was playing. But I’ve been able to play a lot of guard the last few months, so I feel pretty comfortable there.”
Ed: Give us a scouting report on yourself?
Pulley: I’m a guy that’s going to come in to work. I like to think I’m pretty smart. I like to know the offense backward and forward. The way the game works and the Xs and Os is probably my favorite part. That’s what I’ve been doing the past couple days is trying to get in the playbook, get around these guys, figure everything out. I like to think I’m somewhat athletic sometimes.”
Ed: How hard is it to come and when you get to Sunday feel like you’ll be ready to contribute?
Pulley: It’s a challenge for sure. I was in here most of the day yesterday just trying to get around everybody, trying to get in the playbook and learn. There’s always similarities from where you come from, but it’s obviously different. It’s a challenge, but I’m excited about it. I’m all-in with the Giants. I’m pumped to get going. As soon as I can get out there I’d love to.”
Ed: Did you know any of the guys before you got here?
Pulley: No, not really … I played at Vanderbilt with Pat Shurmur’s son for one year.”
Pulley was 45th among 50 qualifying centers in pass-blocking efficiency last season with a 96.7 mark, per Pro Football Focus. He allowed 38 total pressures, but just one sack. His 52.9 run-blocking grade ranked 42nd among qualifying centers, and his 52.8 pass-blocking grade was 43rd. He was also right about his first half vs. second half last season. Five of his six highest-graded games came in the season’s first eight weeks.