EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants drafted Weston Richburg in the second round of May's NFL draft to play center. But he's also playing guard in training camp, and he's fine with doing both if it helps speed his development as a starting NFL offensive lineman.
"It's a nice chunk," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Richburg's first-day training camp practice workload. "But he's a smart kid, and it's good for our team if he can handle it."
The plan Tuesday was for Richburg to work as the second-team center, with J.D. Walton working at center with the first team. But the Giants needed a fill-in at first-team right guard. Chris Snee retired Monday, Brandon Mosley had a stomach issue and had to leave practice early, and John Jerry remains a very limited practice participant as he recovers from knee surgery. So Richburg slid in at right guard with the first team.
"They don't carry a ton of guys on the offensive line," Richburg said earlier in the day. "So for me to be able to play guard and center would really help the team a lot."
It would help Richburg, too. The Giants don't like to rush their rookies, but just last year injuries forced Justin Pugh into a starting role at right tackle, and he ended up starting all 16 games for the team as a rookie. So it's not as though they won't give Richburg a shot if he shows he can handle it. And if he dominates at guard in camp and in the preseason, there's no reason to think that couldn't help his chances to beat out Walton for the starting center spot.
"I'm not really focused on one specific spot," Richburg said. "Wherever they need me to go, I'm happy to do that."
With free agent Geoff Schwartz slated to start at left guard, the Giants project to have three new starting offensive linemen in Week 1 this year. That assumes Pugh at right tackle and Will Beatty at left tackle. Beatty, by the way, did a fair amount of practicing with the first team Tuesday after missing OTAs and minicamp while working his way back from a broken leg. So that's a positive as he and the Giants hope to put a disappointing 2013 season behind them.
"My theme is 'today,'" Beatty said. "Go out there and see what I can do today, and focus on that."
Beatty believes he'll be ready for Week 1. Richburg believes he can be a starter right away. So do Walton and Jerry and Mosley. This camp will be about sorting things out for the Giants on the offensive line -- an area that completely sunk them in 2013 and that absolutely must do a better job in 2014 if the Giants are to be competitive at all.