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How will Jon Feliciano fare as the Giants’ center?

“Dirtbag” brings experience to New York’s O-line

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a reason Jon Feliciano’s coach nicknamed him “Dirtbag.” He has struggled to carve out a long-term starting role throughout his lengthy career, but offensive line coach Bobby Johnson says Feliciano still hasn’t lost his attitude.

“When I write the depth chart on the board, I write ‘Dirtbag,’ ” Johnson said. “That’s how he plays. Not in an illegal fashion, but he plays the game on the edge.”

Will that be enough for Feliciano to help upgrade a New York Giants O-line looking for help on the interior? Let’s find out as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster New York will bring to training camp.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 325
Age: 30
Position: Offensive lineman
Experience: 8 years
Contract: One-year, $3.25 million | 2022 cap hit: $2.897 million

Career to date

Feliciano is another mid-tier veteran offensive linemen on a roster filled with them. Since the Raiders selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 Draft, Feliciano has occasionally flashed high-end ability but also struggled with injuries.

Feliciano struggled to carve out a role in Oakland, starting just eight games in four seasons there in between multiple stints on Injured Reserve.

He was more successful after signing with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent in 2019. He started every game that year at right guard and earned a spot on the Pro Bowl ballot. The next two years, he dealt with more injuries but was usually the starter when active.

Feliciano lost his starting spot ahead of the Bills’ playoff run last year, even after his replacement, Ike Boettger, went down with an injury. It’s something he seemingly still holds a grudge about. He said if he was playing “it would’ve been a close game” and that his teammates “got what you deserved.”

2022 outlook

Feliciano has significant experience playing every position on the offensive line — except for center, where he has started just two games. However, he’s exactly what the Giants need right now: a cheap, experienced player whose contract does not prevent New York from making further investments on the interior in the future or count against the compensatory draft pick formula.

Feliciano isn’t worried about adapting to a new role. In March, he said center is his “best position” and that he signed with the Giants partially because he knew they would allow him to play there.

Either way, he should be an immediate upgrade over last year’s fill-ins for Nick Gates. Feliciano also seems to be emerging as a vocal leader on the team. He is already familiar with Johnson and head coach Brian Daboll from Buffalo, and he said he talks to defensive coordinator Wink Martindale before almost every practice.

“You know, we came out with some weak stuff today,” Feliciano said after practice on Tuesday. “I think the defense won today. You know, we’ll be able to grow from it. Let me tell you, going against Wink’s defense is going to be great for us in the long run. But I’m not going to lie to you if it doesn’t get frustrating sometimes, you know what I’m saying? Which is great, but not right now.”