Matt Peart has been kind of like a ping-pong ball in his first season-and-a-half as an NFL player. He has bounced in and out of the New York Giants’ starting lineup. Sometimes he has been part of the tackle rotation head coach Joe Judge favors, sometimes he has not. Sometimes he has been at right tackle, other times at left. He has even practiced a bit at guard.
For at least the next three weeks, Peart won’t be bouncing around. With Andrew Thomas on IR with foot and ankle injuries, the Giants’ 2021 third-round pick will be in Thomas’s spot at left tackle.
“Matt is just better at left right now, especially with Andrew being out and keeping Nate (Solder) at right,” offensive line coach Rob Sale said on Thursday. “Nate had a few good games in a row right there, playing better, starting to play at a higher level.”
Could this be an opportunity for Peart, who was expected to be the starting right tackle but lost that job to Solder, to show the Giants he can be part of the long-term offensive line solution?
“That’s my message to him,” Sale said. “You’ve got a great opportunity. What are you going to do with it? For three games you get to be the guy. Don’t look over your shoulder, we need you to play, play at a high level and produce. He knows that and he’s ready for the challenge.”
Peart, 24, understands.
“Every time you step on the field it’s always a great opportunity,” he said on Thursday. “Just have the mentality to go out there every day and just prove that everything you worked on on the field can come to fruition in the game.”
Peart played well in his first few opportunities as a rookie in 2020. He then missed time with COVID-19 and did not play nearly as well, or as much, late in the season.
This year he was supposed to be the Giants’ right tackle. He began training camp on PUP with a back issue, played inconsistently when he came back, and saw Solder take the job from him.
Peart played well vs. the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, allowing only one pressure in 44 pass-blocking snaps. In Week 6 against the Los Angeles Rams, though, he gave up two sacks and four total pressures in 44 pass-blocking snaps.
Sale said the Giants need more consistency from the 6-foot-7, 318-pound tackle.
“Sometimes when he does it he does it well. It’s like, man, that’s it, do it again, do it again, do it again, over and over again. Consistency, that would be the thing, and if you’re going to do it do it violently. Get your hands on it, play fast, play physical,” Sale said.
“Technique’s not gonna be perfect all the time. It’s kinda like playing golf, it’s never the same. You try to strive for that. If you don’t get it let’s do it violently, let’s get our hands on the defender, let’s not let him get started. We’re not going to be passive, that’s not an option.”
“That’s offensive line play. You’re in the trenches. Going out there with the mentality that you can dominate every single time,” Peart said. “I’m an offensive lineman at the end of the day and you start with a hit, so being violent’s in our nature. You can’t be passive as an offensive lineman, you’ve gotta go down there and get it.”
Has the bouncing around impacted Peart’s development?
“Thirty-one other teams have the same deal. They’ve got the same numbers, same issues, same problem,” Sale said. “Got to be able to have versatility. We’d like to be able to keep the guys in the one spot, but it is what it is right now, our hands are kinda forced.”
Thomas played like a franchise left tackle in the first four games of the season. The fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft has not surrendered a sack yet, and appears to be trending toward justifying the Giants’ decision to draft him by becoming a franchise left tackle.
Solder has played decently, but he is 33 and no more than a stop gap at right tackle. The Giants need to know if Peart can be counted on.
“Everything in this program you earn. Obviously I had a few lapses, obviously Nate proved that he’s the better guy for the right tackle spot,” Peart said. “That’s the nature of the game. Always staying ready. Always having that mentality of when they call your number you’re ready to go.”
The Giants need Peart to be ready now. If he proves up to the challenge, that could bode well for the future of the team’s offensive line.