The New York Giants are contending with a spate of injuries on their offensive line this season, leading to unexpected shifts in player positions. The latest development involves offensive lineman Justin Pugh, a recent practice squad addition, who found himself thrust into a key role at left tackle in Week 6 following an injury to Josh Ezeudu.
Pugh Steps Up in Wake of Injuries
Ezeudu’s departure due to a toe injury during the game necessitated Pugh’s elevation to the active roster, where he put in a commendable performance. Over 48 pass-blocking snaps, Pugh conceded just three pressures, a testament to his adaptability and skill. However, despite his efforts, the Giants are in the process of recalibrating their lineup.
In the aftermath of their recent defeat against Buffalo, the Giants made the decision to waive interior lineman Jalen Mayfield following a subpar season performance. Mayfield’s sole showcase this season in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins was marred by five pressures and two penalties during his 46 snaps at right guard. After Azeez Ojulari was placed on injured reserve and Mayfield was waived, the assumption is that Pugh will land on the 53-man roster.
This performance wasn’t out of the ordinary for Mayfield, who previously logged 989 snaps with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021, during which he yielded 57 pressures and 11 sacks, predominantly as a left guard.
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Anticipating Changes in the Giants’ Roster
With Mayfield’s exit, it’s anticipated that Pugh will secure an NFL contract, transitioning him from a temporary practice squad fixture to a permanent roster spot. The necessity for this shift is underscored by Pugh’s extensive experience, which will likely see him covering left tackle in the imminent Week 7 game against the Washington Commanders.
Despite Pugh’s relatively limited experience in the left tackle position — with only 224 career snaps, including 68 from his recent outing with the Giants — his track record is noteworthy. The bulk of his experience is rooted in the left guard position, where he has accumulated 4,588 snaps. Known for his prowess in pass protection at left guard, a distinction he humorously claims himself, Pugh has demonstrated his value unequivocally.
At 33, and with just two weeks on the practice squad following recovery from an ACL injury, Pugh has proven his worth. His unexpected but stellar rise is a boon for the Giants, who could greatly benefit from his expertise, leadership, and adaptability.
Given his contributions, there’s a strong case for the Giants to consider securing Pugh for the 2024 season, ensuring they retain a player of his caliber and versatility during these challenging times.