To help untangle the mess, I’ll be posting installments that break down the depth at each position group over the next week. Today we start with perhaps the most important position group, the Offensive Line.
There are currently 10 players on the roster that have a legitimate shot at landing a spot on the line. The importance of this position and the recent injury problems it has encountered suggest that the Giants would like to retain between 8-9 players. Nine may be too high however, due to the roster issues we will be discussing throughout this series.
Guaranteed a roster spot are last year’s starting 5 (David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’hara, Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie), Will Beatty, and rookie Mitch Petrus.
Adam Koets, Shawn Andrews, and Guy Whimper are each fighting for what will likely be one remaining spot.
Whimper was the front runner for the final rung on the depth chart after Kevin Boothe landed on the PUP list. Boothe, is likely headed to IR whether he is healed or not because there is simply no room for the formal Cornell star any longer.
Whimper has lost a significant amount of leverage since the start of camp. Since 2007, he has been a reliable “off the bench” option and has filled in satisfactorily mid game on several occasions. Despite this, he failed to impress while starting for the injured Chris Snee against the Jets.
Whimper was not quite on the outside looking in until the unexpected signing of veteran Shawn Andrews. Andrews has earned multiple Pro Bowl nods and was enjoying a very successful career in Philadelphia before a major back injury derailed him. Missing two discs from his back and the intestinal fortitude that drove him to stardom, Andrew’s returned to the Eagles a shell of his former self.
Reportedly healed and ready to make a comeback, the ball is in Andrews’s court. The Giants made their intentions clear, signing the rebounding linemen to a 6 year deal. The length of the deal suggests that Andrews is in the Giants long term plans; perhaps the former Eagle is Seubert’s eventual replacement.
That said, if Andrews burns out mentally or physically again, the Giants won’t be losing much by cutting him since the deal he signed is as incentive laden as it is long. While this experiment could easily fail, it won’t be declared over until after this season. Thus, Andrews is currently leading the hunt for the final spot.
One could make a legitimate case for the young Adam Koets. This time last season, Koets was to the offensive line what Sinorice Moss is to the receiving corps. Many expected him to be dropped and many were surprised when he survived final cuts.
Koets spent August, 2009 botching snaps and struggling through the transition from tackle to center. A late round draft pick, Koets was the one member of the “golden” 2007 draft class that did not make an immediate impact.
While he rarely sees real game action, Koets has improved his snapping abilities and has received endorsements as of late from team leader and Pro Bowl center Shaun O’hara as a suitable backup.
Koets has seen significant playing time this preseason, due to O’hara’s swelling ankle. He seems to be struggling to generate the same push O’hara can, but this is partially due to the lower caliber of guards surrounding him.
A bit undersized, Koets could stand to gain some weight before seeing time in a regular season matchup. Though the team is high on him, Koets will still likely be a “cut day casualty,” because of an injury to a superior. Oddly enough, an injured starter often provides the opening young reserves need to secure a spot. However, other injury logjams make this a unique situation.
In addition to team-wide injury related question marks, the offensive line has seen three of last year’s five starters miss significant time this preseason; Hence, Andrews’s arrival.
Mitch Petrus is a promising young rookie and though he may not contribute at all this year, a roster spot must be sacrificed for him.
Had this been another year, perhaps the team could have afforded to dedicate an extra spot to the offensive line. News that Rich Seubert has now been receiving significant reps at center (in case O’hara is unable to play come September 12th) strongly suggests that the Giants are looking to turn less into more.
With Seubert, Beatty, Andrews, and Petrus each able to play guard, Beatty and Andrews able to see time at tackle, and Seubert prepared to anchor the middle, the Giants should have each base covered.
If you are keeping score at home, dedicate 8 spots to the offensive line. The group will consist of Diehl, Seubert, O’hara, Snee, McKenzie, Beatty, Andrews, and Petrus. New York believes it can maximize each player’s ability so that 8 men can resemble 9 or 10.
Koets and Whimper will be cut and Boothe is headed to IR.