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It’s now or never for Giants’ OL Shane Lemieux

Lemieux has spent most of his career on IR

NFL: New York Giants-Blue & White Scrimmage Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Lemieux entered the 2021 season as the New York Giants’ expected starter at left guard. He also entered 2022 as their expected starter at left guard.

Lemieux’s health had other ideas. The former fifth-round pick has appeared in just two games since his disastrous 2020 rookie season, and time is running out for him to carve out a role on the interior offensive line.

As he enters a contract year, will Lemieux be able to earn playing time? Or has the Giants’ roster progressed enough in his absence to leave him without a role?

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 310
Age: 26
Position: Guard
Experience: 4
Contract: Year 4 of four-year, $3.642 million rookie deal | 2023 cap hit: $1.096 million

Career to date

Lemieux started 52 consecutive games at left guard during a four-year career at the University of Oregon, playing at least 95% of his team’s snaps in three of those seasons. The Giants selected him at No. 150 overall in the 2020 draft.

Scouting reports indicated Lemieux would need time to develop his pass-blocking skills, a prediction that was validated after Lemieux was thrust into a starting role midway through his rookie season. In nine games, Lemieux earned a 16.9 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, last among 203 linemen to play at least 300 snaps.

Regardless, Lemieux was the Giants’ Week 1 starter at left guard in 2021 and was expected to make strides in his game. However, he played only a few snaps before realizing he could not play through a leg injury he had suffered in training camp. He ended up missing the entire season.

Lemieux once again won a starting role in training camp last year, but suffered a toe injury on the first drive of the Giants’ preseason opener. He stayed on Injured Reserve until November, when he returned in Week 10. It ended up being Lemieux’s only appearance of the season, and he landed back on IR in December.

2023 outlook

For two years in a row, Lemieux began training camp as a starter. He won’t open this training camp as a starter, but if he is healthy it is feasible he could work his way into the lineup.

Left guard will be one of the more competitive spots on the roster. Ben Bredeson started eight games last year and is expected to be first on the depth chart when training camp begins. Joshua Ezeudu — who boasts a higher draft status than Lemieux as a third-rounder, and was selected by the current regime — could be in the conversation to be the starter as he enters his second season. Marcus McKethan will also compete for playing time as a rotational piece.

Ultimately, Lemieux will need to show that his injuries did not have lingering effects, and that he can play like an athlete entering his fourth season despite having only appeared in 14 games. His range of outcomes is huge: he could be a starter, but he’s not necessarily even a lock to make the 53-man roster.