Second-year offensive tackle Matt Peart, expected to be the team’s starter on the right side, took live reps during the team’s first fully-padded practice. He split reps with Nate Solder. That marked Peart’s most extensive action since coming off the PUP list due to a back issue.
“I’m just happy to be out there,” Peart said after practice. “Like I said, every day is a new opportunity to work on our craft and get better. I just think of it as a blessing now to be able to be out here, just to be with my brothers, to be with the family again. It just felt good to be with my guys.”
Drafted in the third round (99th overall) out of UConn a year ago, Peart was thought by many to be a year away from being ready to play successfully at the NFL level. Due to coach Joe Judge’s insistence on rotating him into the lineup, though, Peart played 150 snaps over 11 games.
Peart performed well enough early in the season. Not so well, however, late in the season. He landed on the COVID-19 Reserve list after a Week 10 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, missing two games. He played three games down the stretch, but the missed practice time and perhaps another late-season injury that has never really pinpointed led to him having his worst games Week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals and Week 16 vs. the Baltimore Ravens. He did not play Week 15 or Week 17.
“What we saw last year was competitiveness, very coachable player and daily improvement. Obviously, he showed up. The first action he got last year was versus Washington in that first game we had. It was kind of on short notice. He jumped on in there, we threw him in there on the edge and he held up pretty well for us. And as we went forward, he gave us confidence to mix him through and we had a three-tackle rotation, and he kept getting better week by week,” Judge said. “He had a setback with injury at the end of last year that kind of took a little playing time away from him because he couldn’t go out there and give 100 percent, but we had confidence in him every game last year to put him out there when he was healthy.”
I asked Peart on Tuesday about the way last season ended for him.
“That’s one thing with football, it’s just playing through adversity. That was my adversity going through the end of last season,” Peart said. “I’m just so fortunate to have a great group of guys around me that really rallied around me when times got rough for me. I just take everything day-by-day. I got out here and took everything day-by-day and tried not to dwell on all that adversity because, like I said, it comes with football.”
One of the reasons given a year ago by those who thought Peart wasn’t ready to be a major contributor last season was that he needed time to get stronger and hone his fitness to handle NFL defensive linemen.
Standing a few feet away from Peart on Tuesday, it’s apparent that he is both leaner and likely bigger now than the 318 pounds at which he is listed.
Peart said he “definitely” gained weight, but deflected when asked how much.
“Ah geez, I can’t remember the numbers off the top of my head,” Peart said. “I probably just leaned up a little more, got more muscle mass, cut more fat. But like I said, grinding the offseason program, getting bigger and stronger.”
The Giants are hoping that Peart and Andrew Thomas, drafted No. 4 overall a year ago, will bookend their offensive line for the next several years.
“Andrew’s a tremendous talent and we know what it is every time we step on the field. We just want to come out here and compete and get better every single day. That’s a testament to him and his work ethic and for me, it’s just for me to come out here and show and to just compete,” Peart said. “I just like want to come out here and just do the best job I can physically do on the field. Like I said, every day is a single blessing. Every day is a day to get better and work on your craft and for me.”