If Andrew Thomas is sidelined Sunday due to his hamstring injury, most likely either Matt Peart or Joshua Ezeudu will be at left tackle when the New York Giants face the Arizona Cardinals in a game they need to win to avoid an 0-2 start.
Both players said on Thursday they are ready if needed.
Technically, backup tackle is Peart’s job. He was the player called upon when the Giants took a laboring Thomas out of Sunday’s game with the Dallas Cowboys. He played only four snaps before leaving with an injury to his right elbow. Peart has been listed as a limited practice participant on Wednesday and Thursday.
“This ain’t nothing,” Peart said at his locker on Thursday when asked about the wrap on his elbow.
Peart admitted to being upset that he was so quickly sidelined on Sunday.
“Every opportunity you get you want to go out there and put your best foot forward,” Peart said. “When you have little nicks it’s just kind of annoying because you put so much into it.”
The 2020 third-round pick has played in 36 games over three-plus seasons, with six starts. Peart has has good and bad games during his time with the Giants. There have been times when it looked like he might have an opportunity to grab a full-time starting job, and others when it appeared he was buried on the bench.
“The highs and the lows. I always try to stay cool, calm, and collected. Never ride the lows, never ride the highs. I try to stay in-between, and just keep my head down and keep working,” said Peart, who sits at his locker whenever there is media access and greets everyone with a big smile. “Every opportunity making sure I put my best foot forward and don’t try to think about it too much. You never really want to dwell on the past. You want to learn from it, but you want to just keep putting your best foot forward and moving forward.”
Peart said he will be “excited” if the Giants ask him to fill in for Thomas on Sunday.
“Always having that next man up mentality and always being ready when your numbers called,” Peart said. “It’s football. As sad as it is, injuries are a part of the game and you just always have to be ready and when your number’s called, go.”
Ezeudu, a 2022 third-round pick, was a four-position player in college at North Carolina, having taken snaps everywhere except center. For the Tar Heels, he started 20 games at left guard, six at left tackle and two at right tackle.
During 2022 training camp, the Giants used him at both tackle spots as well as left guard. His regular season playing (290 snaps) came exclusively at left guard.
Ezeudu worked at both guard spots during 2023 training camp, losing a competition with Ben Bredeson for the starting left guard role.
Despite not winning a starting job, Ezeudu said he was “pretty satisfied” with his play throughout the summer.
“I know I got better,” he said on Thursday. “Every day that’s all I want to do is keep on getting better. I think it was good. Everything happens for a reason. In this league you always have to be ready for anything.“
Since the Giants settled on Bredeson and Mark Glowinski as their guard tandem Ezeudu has returned to a jack-of-all-trades role.
If he has to play left tackle on Sunday, Ezeudu said he feels “pretty good about it.”
“I’ve been practicing every position on the o-line for a couple of weeks now,” he said. “It’s’ not my first time.”
Ezeudu said moving from spot to spot across the line, something he often did during games in college, can be “a bit challenging at first but I’ve done it so much over the past couple of years I’m used to it.
“In a way they [the positions] are different. The angles are different, how you set is different. If you’ve been playing left tackle and you move into left guard at first it seems different, but the feeling of it comes to you.”
Ezeudu played 14 snaps in relief of Thomas and Peart on Sunday. In that small sample size he earned a 75.8 Pro Football Focus grade and did not allow a single pressure in 12 pass-blocking snaps.
Best-case scenario for the Giants is that Thomas, by far their best offensive lineman, is able to play. He tested his hamstring at practice on Thursday and when Friday’s injury report is made available we will learn more about whether the Giants expect him to play.
If Thomas is sidelined, it will be interesting to see which player the Giants give the responsibility of protecting Daniel Jones’ blind side.
If Andrew Thomas can’t play vs. Arizona, who would you start at left tackle?
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