It’s clear that the offensive line isn’t going to be the same as it was last season for the New York Giants. The team hasn’t had the chance to make the drastic changes that many would consider ideal, but there’s a better idea of what the line is going to look like this season and one specific defining factor setting it apart: youth.
The O-line grew younger last season with Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart winning starting roles at tackle, and both of those players will almost certainly retain their spots while bringing more experience into their second year.
Another player that made it into the starting lineup last season is Nick Gates, who went from starting 3 games to starting every game of the season at center. He’s a less flashy part of the offensive line’s youth movement compared to number four overall pick Thomas, but is notable for going from undrafted to starter in only a few seasons.
Based on his statements during training camp, it looks like Gates could also emerge as a leader within this group.
Nick Gates says young guys have to step up
Gates spoke about the recent retirement of two players on the offensive line, Zach Fulton and recently signed free agent Joe Looney, and believes the younger players will just have to respond to the departures by stepping it up.
“Weâ€™re a young group, but I think the young guys have got to step up and be leaders and just got to take care of each other and keep coming to work every day and working. Young guys have just got to step up, thatâ€™s all it is,” Gates told reporters on Friday.
“Weâ€™re doing good. We have a long way to go, and we have what, four more weeks of camp or something like that? Hopefully, we can get that right. I like our offense.”
The Giants are relying far more on youth at the current offensive line position than veterans. Between the Giants’ two second year tackles, Shane Lemieux at the guard position, and Nick Gates at center, it really looks like the team will succeed or fail at the position this year based on their younger players. With Lemieux also injured right now, much of that responsibility currently falls on others.
At the very least, all of last season’s rookies will be more adjusted to the league this season and Andrew Thomas won’t be playing with an injury. Those things may end up being some of the most important factors in the Giants improving in one of their worst position groups from 2020.