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Nick Gates: Offseason work “huge” for Giants’ young offensive line

Starting center also lauds new coach Rob Sale as “awesome”

New York Giants v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Perhaps the best news out of OTAs for the New York Giants is that there has been full attendance at the voluntary workouts from members of the team’s offensive line — at least at the sessions that have been open to the media.

With a first-time center and three rookies to work into the lineup, the Giants were placed at a disadvantage a season ago by the COVID-19 pandemic that forced cancellation of all on-field offseason work, preseason games and severely curtailed NFL training camps.

This year, while the pandemic has not been eradicated there is some amount of offseason work being done by NFL teams. That can only be a help to a team like the Giants, which features a young offensive line and a new offensive line coach.

“I think it’s huge, especially as young a team as we are right now I think it’s great for us to get in the building,” starting center Nick Gates said Friday via Zoom. “Quarterbacks throw the routes to the wide receivers for timing and the oline getting in here and working technique. Having a new oline coach this year and learning what he likes in different plays and his technique that he likes.”

Rob Sale, a first-time NFL assistant coach, is now in charge of the offensive line. He takes over after a year that saw Marc Colombo begin the season, get fired after a disagreement with head coach Joe Judge, then veteran coach Dave DeGuglielmo finish it. Sale was most recently offensive coordinator and line coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

“Sale’s awesome. He’s a good teacher, a good coach and he’s a good person,” Gates said. I can’t wait to keep working with him and keep learning and picking his brain and seeing what he can teach us throughout the year.”

In addition to Sale, senior offensive assistant Freddie Kitchens, consultant Pat Flaherty and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett are all involved in helping the young line. Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?

Gates said there is “definitely not” an issue with communication.

“All four of them are on the same page. If one doesn’t know a question he’s going to ask the next guy and vice versa,” Gates said. “As long as they’re all on the same page it’s not that difficult.”

The Giants have a great deal riding on their young offensive line in 2021. Whether that gamble will pay off is something we won’t know for several months. There are, though, fewer impediments to success standing in the line’s way this time around.