EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- He broke his leg in the final game of the 2013 season and had surgery to repair it, so it would be nice if he could take all the time he needed in training camp to rehab the injury and allow it to heal. But New York Giants left tackle Will Beatty doesn't feel as though he has that luxury.
"You can't forget about everything else," Beatty said Thursday. "You can't be like, 'Okay, I'm going to go out here and rehab,' and not tune into what the coaches are saying about the plays and the footwork and the protections. I have to make sure I don't have rehab as a crutch. Because when it comes time to full-go, you have to be ready. So I'm trying to get everything down now so when it is full-go, it's not, 'I need to practice this, I need to practice that.' I'm building everything at once."
Beatty's leg has allowed him to do more so far in training camp than the Giants expected him to do. He won't play in Saturday night's preseason game against the Steelers, but coach Tom Coughlin said that was the plan all along. If things continue to go well, the Giants hope to play Beatty in next weekend's preseason game in Indianapolis and have him ready in plenty of time for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 in Detroit.
But Beatty isn't just coming back from a broken leg. He's coming back from a disappointing season -- for himself and the whole Giants' offensive line. He had right tackle Justin Pugh are the only returning starters from last year's line, and even prior to that Week 17 injury Beatty didn't perform to the 2012 standards that landed him a long-term contract as the Giants' left tackle.
"I'm not pushing just to be okay," Beatty said. "I have to get back to not only where I was last year, but also improve. I have to still improve, I have to still climb. It's not about getting back to where we were last year, because that's not going to be good enough by any means."
People ask what went wrong for Beatty in 2013, and his answer is basically "a lot of different stuff." He says a film review of his 2013 season -- thankfully -- doesn't show him getting physically overmatched by defenders, but rather a series of technique breakdowns that can be corrected with practice and attention.
"Each of them different," Beatty said. "Maybe there was a twist game. Maybe there was a one-on-one outside where I pushed him out but I didn't push him out far enough and he just shortened that corner so you're dropping back on a seven-step drop and he's right there. So there wasn't one play like, 'Okay, you can't do this. Every time this happens, you get beat.' It was just an overall, in general, 'Finish. Keep him out there longer. Block one extra second.' You can always say there's something you could have done."
Add in the new offensive scheme the Giants are running under new coordinator Ben McAdoo, and there has been much for Beatty to practice. The zone run schemes the Giants will use this season aren't new to them, but the new offense will utilize more of them. And for those to work, all five offensive linemen have to move in sync. So Beatty knows that every snap he takes with the other four guys will be a benefit to the offense when the games start to count. That is why he's pushing it as hard as he can, and maybe harder than he used to when he came back from injuries, though he won't say that.
"There were moments where the leg was like, 'Okay, what are you doing?'" Beatty said. "I'm not saying every practice play was perfect. It's going to be sore. But you can push through it. You can work through it. So it's just building up that strength so I can get that drive off the line. I feel like I'm getting quicker in my steps. I feel like I'm getting stronger. I feel like I'm focusing on the play and not my leg."
That is where the Giants want Beatty, and so far, so good with his rehab and his practice performance. Going one-on-one against Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, Beatty has held his own in practice. His determination to put 2013 behind him is one of a few things driving him, and the pace of his recovery is encouraging as well as comfortable.
"You're only as strong as your weakest link, and you don't want to be that weakest-link guy," Beatty said. "So I don't want it to be like, 'Oh, because he got injured last year, this is why this happened.' I want it to be like, 'Oh, he did get injured last year, but it doesn't show.' I want to be flying around like nothing ever happened. That's my goal."