How Giants could juggle the offensive line

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The news on New York Giants center David Baas is that he sprained the MCL in his left knee in Sunday night's preseason game against the Colts, and the projected recovery time is three to six weeks. Do the math, and you see that the regular-season opener, which is 20 days from today, is obviously in question for Baas. He could miss all or most of September.

The obvious candidate to replace Baas at center is Kevin Boothe, who should handle that transition without any trouble, but Boothe is currently the starting left guard, so moving him over one spot creates another hole that has to be filled on the starting offensive line. Add into this the fact that right guard Chris Snee is being brought along slowly as he recovers from offseason hip surgery, and the Giants suddenly have some question marks in a critical area.

First-round draft pick Justin Pugh has worked exclusively at tackle this offseason, and there has been some thought that he was in competition with David Diehl for the starting right tackle job. But Pugh missed practice time and the first preseason game due to a concussion, and it does not appear the Giants are rushing him to be ready to play right away. They drafted him with an eye toward their long-term needs on the offensive line, not necessarily as someone they would need to start in Year 1, and so to project him as an answer to the Baas problem in September seems misguided at this point. If they felt he was ready, they could start him at right tackle and move Diehl inside to play guard. But Pugh probably isn't going to be ready in 20 days, and the Giants don't like to rush their draft picks into starting roles before they believe they can handle it.

Also, Diehl hasn't worked at guard at all this offseason, and they probably don't want to mess with him by asking him to move at this late stage. Diehl has played guard in the past and likely could handle it, but the transition would be bumpy, and Sunday night he was already having a tough time where he was.

So if we assume they don't want to rush Pugh or move Diehl, the most obvious other options are:

  • James Brewer, the 2009 fourth-rounder who's worked at tackle and guard, could play left guard.

  • Jim Cordle, who replaced Baas when he left the game Sunday night, could play center and leave Boothe where he is. Or Cordle could play guard.

  • Brandon Mosley, the 2012 fourth-rounder who started the first preseason game at right guard in place of Snee, could play guard.

Whatever happens, they're going to have to do some mixing and matching, especially if they need to spell Snee for a series or two in the early going. This is a situation in which the Giants like to rely on their roster-building and player-development philosophy and offer an opportunity to someone who's worked in the system for a few years. That's why, while you can't rule out the idea of this year's first-rounder starting in Week 1, it's not a sure thing that Pugh is the immediate answer to the problem created by Baas' injury.