On the first day of New York Giants training camp, no one appeared happier about getting a fresh start than offensive guard Will Hernandez.
The 2020 season was the roughest of Hernandez’s three years with the Giants. He landed on the COVID-19 Reserve list, missed three games, then found he had lost his starting job to Shane Lemieux. An every-down player at left guard his first two seasons, Hernandez barely saw the field the final few weeks of the season and did not play at all Week 17 vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
Hernandez is trying to turn a difficult season into a positive force for his career going forward.
“There’s some times things happen to you that you just can’t control, and that was one of them for me. I didn’t like it all, obviously, but I had to deal with it,” Hernandez said on Wednesday. “All that time that I missed because of it [COVID-19] has just taught me how much more important the time that I have now is.
“Now I try not to waste any reps, waste any time. I try to do everything even better than I did before because I value that time a lot more because I had to sit out.”
Hernandez is back with the Giants this season, and appears to once again have a starting. Only, that job will be at right guard rather than the left side he manned until the middle of last season.
Hernandez said he last time he actually played in a game on the right side was in high school.
“It’s basically just a flip-flop thing. You do everything that you do on the left side, do it on the right, except everything’s reversed,” Hernandez said. “It’s not as hard as people sometimes make it seem.”
The 2018 second-round pick has been a decent player for the Giants over his first three seasons, but not close to what the Giants had hoped for when they selected him.
After last season’s rough experience, Hernandez made some changes to his offseason routine.
“Just did different things than I did in the past,” Hernandez said. “There’s a famous saying from my college strength coach that stuck with me all offseason — “You always do what you always did you always get what you always got.” I did a lot of things differently this year. Ate different, worked out different.”
One of the major things Hernandez did differently was to spend time working with offensive line performance consultant Duke Manyweather at OL Masterminds in Dallas.
Hernandez ended up losing roughly 20 pounds during that work. While he appreciated media members noticing, he didn’t want to focus on the weight loss.
“Let’s not focus too much on the weight,” he said. “I did lose body fat, gain muscle. All that comes into play, it’s not just a straight weight thing.”
Hernandez said Wednesday that he refused to feel sorry for himself about the way things happened last season.
“Never that why me mentality. I wasn’t raised that way at all. You deal with what’s happening. You can’t control it,” Hernandez said. “Did I like it? No. But, it was never poor me, blah, blah, blah. I always said when my time comes I’m going to make sure I take advantage of it. That’s what I’m doing now.”
Manyweather told Big Blue View this offseason that he thought Hernandez, who is just 25, could still reach the potential that caused the Giants to select him 34th overall.
“One, the physical tools he does have and also the way he operates and works. That dude .. we had to monitor him because he does too much sometimes. He’s a tireless worker,” Manyweather said. “One of the things we had to do is teaching him that part of being a pro is the work is the work, the recovery is the recovery and let that work for you because that’s what’s going to pay you dividends on the backside.
“What that showed me and told me a lot about him is 1) he’s not afraid to work and 2) he’s always seeking to find a way to get better.”
It certainly sounds like Hernandez is doing everything he can to give himself a chance to reach that potential.