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Not tough enough? Justin Pugh shrugs off OL criticism from Shaun O'Hara

O'Hara: Line has been holding the Giants back

Justin Pugh
Justin Pugh
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Offensive lineman Justin Pugh on Friday chalked up Shaun O'Hara's Twitter rant about the lack of toughness of injured New York Giants linemen to "frustration."

"Shaun's a great guy. I think he wants to be in that room, he cares about the organization. I think it's just frustration," said Pugh. "If he was in that room, he'd be saying ‘hey guys, we want to get you back on the field as quick as possible so that we can get better.' "

Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty defended his current linemen, saying "I don't question the toughness because I know what they're going through."

On NFL Total Access, O'Hara explained his rant, and expanded on it.

"This comes from a place of pride. This comes from a place where I want to see that unit be the strength of this offense. It's an opportunity for the Giants to have a phenomenal season. Offensively they have some unbelievably explosive weapons," O'Hara said.

"The offensive line, frankly, they've been holding this team back for the last couple years. They've been hurt, they've been gabned up, there's a million excuses. I was frustrated to see that many guys missing practice."

In case you missed it, here is the original tweet from O'Hara:

Valentine's View

O'Hara missed only one game from 2005-2009 before playing only six games in his final season. During O'Hara's time the Giants were fortunate to keep the group of O'Hara, Chris Snee, David Diehl, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie together, and healthy, for several seasons. That just doesn't happen.

Certainly, O'Hara's frustration with what he saw at practice on Thursday was understandable. Certainly, the Giants would be better served with all of their starting offensive linemen practicing every day. Also, though, it's pretty certain O'Hara's emotional attachment to the Giants brought about an overreaction.

We don't know the extent of the injuries to Flowers and Richburg, though we expect they are minor and that both could practice on at least a limited basis on Saturday. We know Geoff Schwartz is coming back after suffering multiple traumatic leg injuries last season, and the Giants need to be careful with him.

We also know that even though it doesn't seem that long ago when O'Hara was snapping to Eli Manning, that he's an NFL dinosaur. He played under a different CBA, at a time where there were two-a-day practices, where pads were worn regularly and not rarely, where there wasn't quite as much scrutiny of every ache, pain or sore muscle. This is also an era where trainers are more likely to err on the side of caution, holding players out who would have been green-lighted to practice years ago.

O'Hara is right that the offensive line has been holding the Giants back. Part of the reason for that is that the Giants waited too long to be begin rebuilding the O'Hara era line with top young talent. It isn't necessarily about toughness. Many fans likely enjoyed O'Hara's words and agreed with them. From here, though, it feels like O'Hara was too harsh.