Giants first-round draft pick Justin Pugh, who coming into camp was supposed to compete for the starting right tackle job, is believed to be in line to take over at right tackle with the first team offensive line.
The move, which was announced on Twitter by Andy Ross, Pugh’s agent, (who later issued a follow-up tweet backing down from the claim) is being considered as a result of the injury to starting center David Baas, who strained his MCL in Sunday night’s 20-12 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and who is listed as week to week by the team.
“I just wanted to get an opportunity to play; (I) definitely love the opportunity go out there and compete,” Pugh said. “I can’t wait to just go out there and practice today.”
Pugh’s progress towards becoming a starter suffered a bump when in the days leading up to the team’s preseason opener, he suffered a concussion that kept him out of practice for several days and which forced him to miss the team’s preseason opener at Pittsburgh.
“Obviously you lose some of those reps, which is definitely something that you wish you could get back,” he said of the practices he missed while recovering from the injury. “I’m back now and I really can’t control that so I’m not going to think about the past and just kind of keep working on getting better each day.”
Against the Colts, Pugh played with the second team offense at left tackle, his position in college at Syracuse.
“I did well,” he said when asked to assess his performance. “There were some things that obviously I could have done better, some plays that you wish you could get back, but I think overall it was a good first start.”
Want more positive news? The 6-4, 301-lb. rookie said that the speed of the game wasn’t as bad as he might have initially thought.
“I think practicing the way we do definitely got me ready for the game, going against some of the guys definitely got me ready to go out there and play,” he said, noting that in practice he regularly goes against fellow rookie draft pick Damontre Moore and third-year man Adrian Tracy, both defensive ends.
Against the starters, though, Pugh can expect to see the level of competition go up several notches when he lines up across from veterans Mathias Kiwanuka and Justin Tuck.
“Obviously Kiwanuka has those long arms and Tuck, he’s been around for a while, so he has some moves that he can give you, he knows how to play the game,” said Pugh. “So definitely all of those guys, all of those guys give me a good look.”
With Pugh’s anticipated insertion at right tackle, that means that incumbent David Diehl will probably move to left guard to replace Kevin Boothe, who will slide inside to center while Baas is sidelined.
While that lineup is not etched in stone, Pugh is simply hoping that now that he’s part of the starting unit, there will be a place for him even after Baas returns.
“I’m willing to play any position; it doesn’t really matter to me where I’m at,” he said. “Right tackle, left tackle, guard — I think I can play (the) positions.”