EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Since Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee retired at the start of training camp and high-priced free agent Geoff Schwartz was injured in a preseason game, there have been giant concerns about the New York’s offensive line.
Across the board, the group included veteran Will Beatty returning from a broken leg; rookie Weston Richburg; two experienced free agents in J.D. Walton and John Jerry; and second-year pro Justin Pugh, the 2013 first-round draft pick.
It’s not the group the coaching staff envisioned heading into the season, but two games in the line is showing progress.
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In the 25-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the running and passing games had increased production, and Eli Manning found time to throw instead of having to duck early and often.
”We’re starting to jell,” Jerry said Wednesday after the Giants (0-2) practiced for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans (2-0). ”We’re starting to come together. If we can eliminate the mistakes …”
Jerry didn’t finish the thought, but it was obvious. Eliminate the mistakes and Tom Coughlin’s crew can put up a much-needed W.
The Giants really need one. They opened last season 0-6 in missing the playoffs for the second straight season, and an 0-3 start would put them on the road to another dismal year.
The line picked it up this past weekend, especially in pass protection. Manning threw for 260 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. While he was sacked twice, there were only two quarterback hurries, seven less than the week before against the Lions.
The running game picked up 81 yards, 28 more than in the opener.
”As offensive linemen we always say it starts with us,” Beatty said. ”Now build on that. We did from Week 1 to Week 2, but not enough in hindsight to win the game. Now we have to build on it again and make sure Game 3 is better than Game 2.”
One of the big differences against the Cardinals was that the Giants controlled the ball for more than 32 minutes despite turning it over four times
Had it not been for the turnovers, penalties and five dropped passes, the Giants probably would have had a 400-yard game for new coordinator Ben McAdoo.
”You wish you could do that,” Pugh said of eliminating the mistakes. ”We see the yards we left on the field and the points we left off the board. We know if we can take care of business and minimize the mistakes that led to those turnovers, we can be a good offense and score on anybody.”
The lack of points has hurt the Giants. They have scored 14 in each of their first two games. It’s a total that is not going to win a lot of games.
However, if the line continues to give Manning time to throw and the running game improves, the Giants are going to score more points.
”The line has played better, but it’s also having long drives, getting first downs and getting into a rhythm, especially if you can go no-huddle,” Manning said of the 13- and eight-play touchdown drives Sunday. ”It slows things down. You run the ball, get the ball out quickly on some passes, and then you can hold it a little more and move around, and (you) sense the defensive line is getting tired. If we can do that, it should give us an advantage.”
What the Giants can’t do is give away the ball. They have a league-worst minus-6 differential and they are facing the Texans, who are tied for the league’s best at plus-5.
”It comes down to why are we shooting ourselves in the foot?” Beatty said. ”The first thing we have to do is stop shooting ourselves in the foot. You have to keep working and keep practicing. It was definitely an improvement from the week before, but by no means are we where we need to be at.”
NOTES: MLB Jon Beason (foot), WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) and P Steve Weatherford (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. … Giants coach Tom Coughlin is not saying whether Jameel McClain or Mark Herzlich will replace Beason if he can’t go. … WR Preston Parker will get the first shot at replacing Jerrel Jernigan (IR) as the third wideout. … Coughlin and WR Victor Cruz had a talk about trying to get more production from the wideouts. Cruz dropped two key passes last weekend and has not scored a touchdown since Week 4 of last season.
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