TAMPA BAY -- The New York Giants appear set to start with their third different offensive line combination in four weeks when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. This time offseason acquisition D.J. Fluker is expected to start at right guard, according to multiple sources.
With Fluker entering the lineup at right guard, John Jerry -- the usual right guard -- will flip to left guard with Justin Pugh remaining at right tackle. Pugh began the season at left guard but moved out to tackle when Bobby Hart injured his ankle in the opener.
The Giants are expected to make the changes because of injuries to Hart (ankle) and Brett Jones (hip). Jones originally felt soreness during Wednesday's practice and was listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Hart is being brought along slowly after he returned to practice this week. He wasn't, however, given an official injury designation this week.
Where Fluker's presence should help is in the run game. He's more of the traditional powerful right guard.
"Yeah, he's a strong man and if we have certain concepts where he's at the point of attack, that's been a strength of his in the past, when you look at some of the things he did in the preseason," offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. "It certainly could be an asset, you could say."
Fluker will be tested though, especially against the pass. He could see plenty of All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Don't be surprised to see McCoy try to win as a pass-rusher with speed and his ability to "get skinny."
Fluker could be working at times with Pugh, who is set to start his second straight game at right tackle. He is the only Giants offensive lineman to not be flagged despite playing every snap this season.
"You know what? He's going out there, he's fighting, he's competing. He's done a nice job," coach Ben McAdoo said. "He did a nice job in a tough environment versus a very good opponent last week. I have a lot of respect for Justin. He's earned it."
How the Giants offensive line performs against the Bucs could dictate how they move forward. It does appear they want to keep Hart in the mix, when he returns to full health.
"Again, every week is a new week. We go one week at a time," McAdoo said. "Certainly, when Bobby gets healthy, we'll put him in the mix somewhere and we'll see how it goes. But again, every week is a new week."
This week is a huge opportunity for Fluker.