Can rookie first-round pick Ereck Flowers handle left tackle from the first snap of his NFL career? Can the Giants trust the 21-year-old, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, to protect their franchise quarterback, Eli Manning, and help enable him to get the ball to the multitude of play-makers at his disposal?
Those are questions, of course, that the Giants did not want to have to ask this season. The plan was for Flowers to play the right side with Will Beatty on the left for at least another year. Beatty's torn pectoral muscle changed all of that, though. Friday night, when the Giants face the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason opener we get our first live look at the guy the Giants have billed as a future franchise left tackle.
Is he ready? Flowers has been dealing with a hip flexor, but did a significant amount of work during the joint practices with the Bengals and says the injury is "a lot better than it was."
The 6-foot-6, 329-pound rookie doesn't say a whole lot. You often get the impression he'd be happy without a microphone, TV camera, digital recorder or notebook ever being pointed in his direction. He would rather just do his job. But, pesky reporters keep wanting to talk to the first-round pick who has been given such a critical task.
"I'm excited, first game, so I came in, got some good work. I'm looking forward to tomorrow," Flowers said on Thursday. "It's going to be good for me to play any game I dress up in. I'm not the type of guy to want to miss games. It's a big deal."
That's pretty much it. He's excited. It's a big deal to play. He's looking forward to it.
Friday night we begin to find out if he can actually do the job, a job many rookies who have gone before him have struggled with. Whether the quiet rookie with the huge assignment can handle it or not will be one of the determining factors in how 2015 goes for the Giants.