It sounds paradoxical, but if Jim Cordle has a good night against the Jets, you'll hardly notice him.
That's how it goes for centers in the NFL. And Cordle, who has never started a game in three years with the Giants, will start Saturday in the team's third preseason game.
The regular starter, David Baas, suffered a knee injury last Sunday against the Colts. Cordle came on and played well in Baas' place, so coach Tom Coughlin elected to give Cordle a shot against the Jets, as opposed to shifting starting left guard Kevin Boothe to center.
"We're really excited about the way Cordle played the other night," Coughlin said earlier this week. "Hopefully he'll keep that going."
It's a huge opportunity for the 26-year-old, who went undrafted in 2010 despite being a three-year starter at Ohio State.
Cordle was signed by the Giants as an undrafted free agent in April 2010, spent all of his rookie season on the practice squad, and spent a chunk of the following season there as well. But he ended up playing in nine games in 2011, and all 16 games last year, in a reserve/special teams role.
"To be out there with the first group is exciting," Cordle said Thursday. "And for me, I still consider it playing for my job. Looking at it that way, it's an opportunity for me to do that."
With Baas also missing practice time during the offseason because of surgeries, Cordle got some reps with Eli Manning and the rest of the starters. Manning expressed confidence in Cordle on Thursday.
"Jimmy's done a good job and [I] got a good number of snaps with him this spring, with Baas being out," Manning said. "I feel comfortable getting the snaps and he has a great knowledge of the offense in making the calls. I never really had to make any adjustments."
Cordle said it takes a little time to develop chemistry with a quarterback, in terms of snapping, but feels he and Manning have that now.
"With the under snaps you've got hand placement and where he has his hands, what's his motion of accepting the snap. But you pick it up pretty quick," Cordle said. "And in shotgun snaps he just wants consistency, which I can give to him."
Fortunately, Cordle will have some very experienced teammates on either side of him. Right guard Chris Snee has started 138 NFL games, while Boothe has played in 89 and started in 46.
"Chris and Kevin do such a good job communicating," Cordle said. "Hopefully I can help out and not be a drop-off from Baas. They have such a routine down of when they're switching twists or when they're getting the guard over on the linebacker, things like that. But we use the same vocabulary so hopefully they understand it."
Baas is aiming to be back by Week 1, but that's far from a given, considering he has a sprained MCL. With a good performance against the Jets, Cordle could prove he's capable of starting against the Cowboys.
He admitted Thursday that has crossed his mind.
"I've probably thought about it," Cordle said, smiling. "I don't know how it's going to work out, but it's in the back of my mind. I'm playing for a roster spot this game, just to stay around here. We'll see, when opening night comes up, what the lineup is."