Despite the improving health of Will Beatty, New York Giants offensive tackle Sean Locklear has unexpectedly held onto the starting left tackle position heading into week two of the regular season. Prior to last year, the 27 year old product out of UConn was tagged as the Giants starting left tackle of the future. However, after suffering from an eye injury that kept him out for the final third of 2011, Beatty missed most of training camp with a lingering back issue. Sean Locklear took his position from the get-go, and he has played well enough to hold onto his spot so far.
On the field, Beatty improved significantly and became a key asset to the offensive line last season. However, his inability to stay on the field has inhibited his ability to develop into the players the Giants are hoping he will become. Although Locklear is viewed as an older veteran on the down side of his career, he did a serviceable job in blocking DeMarcus Ware in Week one. With that, he views himself as a viable option to start this season.
"I've been working with the 'ones' since OTAs. Not really knowing what was going to change or what was going to happen once Will got back, but I've been playing left tackle and nothing has really been said, so I’m taking it as if I’m the starter. Right now, I’m the starter." Locklear said.
The Giants have some significant decisions to make on the offensive line as the team prepares for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday. With the return of Will Beatty and the serviceable performance of Sean Locklear, the team could potentially strip David Diehl of his starting right tackle position.
Not only would removing Diehl from the lineup enable the Giants to get younger, but it could provide a spark to a unit that look lethargic in week one. Not only did the Giants allow Eli Manning to get sacked three times by the Dallas Cowboys, but the offensive line was completely incapable of generating a push at the point of attack. Inserting Will Beatty at left tackle, while moving Sean Locklear over to the right side could help the Giants eradicate a glaring weakness. In short, David Diehl could be playing for his job this weekend.
Regardless of the team's plans, Beatty is anxious to get back into the action. While many assumed that he would be inserted into the starting lineup once healthy, head coach Tom Coughlin has remained quiet about how Beatty will be utilized. The Giants aren't going to hand an injury prone player the responsibility of protecting Eli Manning's blindside, so Will Beatty is going to have to earn his way back into the starting rotation.
“The only thing I can do is show them I’m ready so when I do get the go-ahead it’s not, ‘Oh, can ye do it?’ " Beatty said. “I’m gonna go in there like I never left. It’s that attitude you have to keep. Not ‘Oh this is my first game and how am I gonna do?’ That just clouds your mind and gets you off task."
The Giants offensive line has been a question mark for the entire offseason, and will continue to be as long as they remain ineffective. It will be interesting to see how the team handles Beatty's return, and what his return will mean for Sean Locklear and David Diehl. This weekend will be a major factor in those decisions.
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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