Offensive guard Justin Pugh was one of several of the New York Giants players spoke to the media Thursday after the team concluded their conditioning drills.
"Are you still a guard?" a reporter asked, giving voice to a question that has been floating around since the Giants concluded their minicamp.
"I'm still a guard." Pugh quickly confirmed. At this point the interior of the Giants' offensive line appears to be set, and Pugh has continued to put in preparation for the 2015 season.
"I feel good right now," Pugh said. "My body fat is the lowest it's ever been, I weighed in at 307 today, so I feel good. I think out in L.A. I gained an advantage. I got to work on my mentality, out there. It's a fighter's mentality, you go against that guy, you're going to make it a long day for him, and you're going to make that guy wish he didn't have to go up against you. You know, just a lot of things out there, working on leverage, hand violence, punches, so it was good."
The L.A. work Pugh was referring to was at the MMA gym run by Jay Glazer.
Of course, Pugh isn't the only Giant changing positions. In fact, with the injury to Will Beatty, all of the Giants' linemen are changing positions. And as important as individual talent is to the offensive line, chemistry and communication are equally, if not more, important.
"Yeah, I mean we're very close guys in the locker room, so we definitely talk a lot about how we can get better, how we can get that edge. I think that is something that is going to help us out through out the season, that communication. It's something that's going to be huge." Pugh said about his relationship with new center, Weston Richburg.
As for the growth of chemistry among the offensive line as a whole Pugh thought the joint scrimmages leading up to the first preseason game in Cincinnati would be crucial.
"We're gonna find it real quick" Pugh said. "I think it's great, going to Cincinnati and getting those reps. It's almost like getting three games in since we're getting two full practices against them. So that'll be big. Just keep working on the communication, but I think the menatlity is the biggest thing. Just keep harping and harping on it, and you be a group of tough guys."
Pugh later added that rookie left tackle Ereck Flowers is a "big, strong, tough kid." and that he fits right in with what they are trying to do as an offensive line. Interestingly, Pugh said that the toughest part of adapting to the NFL will be learning the playbook. He also said that he and Weston Richburg -- who both had both started as rookies -- would help him along.
And much like how Steve Spagnuolo has had the defense watching film of great Giants' defenses of the past, the current offensive line has been watching film of the offensive line in 2008.
"I keep saying, we've just got to be a group of tough guys. We've been watching '08 film, when the Giants were probably the best in the business, and they were just a bunch of tough guys. You know after plays they were doing little "extra stuff", and between the whistles they were knocking guys down. No one really wanted to play against them."
He added "I definitely want to emulate how they (Chris Snee and Rich Suebert at guard) play the game."
But what are the goals of the offensive line going into training camp?
"Establish a run game, establish chemistry, establish a run game. It's what I keep saying, establish a toughness, a mentality that we're gonna go out there and we're gonna fight, we're gonna be as physical as possible."
And finally, the question that is on everybody's mind "Do you think that there's enough talent on this team to compete for a Super Bowl?"
Without hesitation Pugh replied "Yeah, of course. The goal is to win the NFC East, and get into the playoffs. And once you get in the playoffs, anything can happen. I think if you saw how explosive our offense could be, I mean we get Victor Cruz back, hopefully we get Will Beatty back down the road. We're going to be dangerous. We're gonna have a lot of teams like 'Oh, we have to play the GIants this week? We better make sure we have our A-game on defense this week' because we (the Giants) are going to score some points."
He added that with Cruz coming back, he didn't think any defense in the league wanted to line up across from those three guys (Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Odell Beckham).