As the New York Giants head into the 2014 offseason, they're faced with a multitude of questions and concerns. Perhaps most importantly however, is what to do with their offensive line, which was arguably the worst in the league and allowed quarterback Eli Manning to be sacked a career-high 39 times. The last sack, unfortunately, leading to a high ankle sprain.
With Kevin Boothe a pending free agent, Will Beatty having suffered a fracture leg, David Baas with a massive contract and David Diehl pondering retirement, it leaves only rookie Justin Pugh as the sole level of consistency and reliability. In fact, he was the Giants' first first-round rookie to start all 16 games for the team since Lawrence Taylor did it back in 1981.
But all of that was not without rookie hiccups. Following the Giants' season-ending victory over the Washington Redskins, Pugh took a few moments to reflect on his first NFL season and how he felt he performed.
“I think it was a little bit inconsistent for the way I want to be,” Pugh said. “I had some down games. I just want to be that guy that you can always count on, you know what you’re going to get from him, and I think that’s something I need to do a better job of being more consistent.”
Despite being the highest rated first-round offensive tackle by Pro Football Focus, Pugh also understands that the offensive line is in peril and there's been much speculation and debate about him possibly changing position. And whether that's to the other side of the line or the interior of the line, Pugh says he's willing to do whatever the Giants ask of him.
“I think I could play wherever they need me to play,” Pugh added. “I’m not going to say ‘I need to play this position.’ I want to win games. I want to go to the playoffs. I want to keep the quarterback upright. So if that’s me at tackle, me at guard, me at center, I’ll play.”
Whether or not the Giants do ask Pugh to switch positions remains to be seen, but there's no denying that a massive overhaul of the offensive line is coming and he's one of, if not the only remaining rock on it.
photo credit: Sean Thornton
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