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Giants rookie Ereck Flowers has to understand 'it's going to get ugly'

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants may yet end up bringing in a more experienced player to replace the injured Will Beatty at left tackle. But so far this spring, it has been rookie Ereck Flowers in that spot. And there's a chance he could be there when the Giants open the season in Dallas on Sept. 13.

Flowers played left tackle in college at Miami, of course. But he just turned 21, and the consensus inside and outside of the building when the Giants picked him No. 9 in this year's draft was that he'd require some seasoning before he could really be an NFL starter at that position.

Beatty changed things when he tore a pectoral muscle lifting weighs a couple of weeks ago and had surgery that will sideline him for five to six months. Now the Giants are going with Flowers at left tackle and free-agent signee Marshall Newhouse at right tackle and seeing whether that setup works.

Whether it works will depend largely on Flowers and his ability to handle a difficult transition. Playing tackle in college is far different from playing it in the NFL, and there are a few things Flowers must learn and understand about exactly why.

"You have to understand that it's going to get ugly," said Newhouse, a five-year NFL veteran who started 29 games at tackle for the Packers in 2011-12. "You look at the tape of the guys playing tackle in these college spread offenses, and it looks real pretty. You get out on your block, one-on-one with your guy, and you lock him up and it all works. But up here, when you look at the tape at the end of a play -- even one that was blocked well, with everybody doing their job -- and it looks ugly."

Newhouse said Flowers' footwork is going to be paramount, because footwork in NFL pass protection isn't just about getting to your spot. It's about holding your spot, and being able to react and reset when someone puts a move on you that you've never seen before and weren't expecting.

"A lot of guys realize they may not be as good an athlete as they thought," Newhouse said.

One of the big differences is the consistent level of competition week to week. When you're playing college football, you may play against two or three defensive ends all year -- or in your entire career -- who are going to play in the NFL. In the NFL, by definition, you're playing one of those guys every week.

"You have to bring your A-game every day," Giants guard Geoff Schwartz said. "If you have any technique issues, especially when you're young, they'll expose that. There are guys up here whose only job is to rush the passer, and they have tape on you, and if you have a technique flaw, they're studying you and they're going to find it."

Schwartz said he looks forward to watching Flowers practice against Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul when Pierre-Paul joins the offseason workouts. Pierre-Paul always takes pride in his one-on-one camp battles with Beatty and will enjoy challenging the rookie on the left side of the line. No one knows whether Flowers will advance quickly enough to handle this responsibility or whether the Giants will have to look for a different solution. But Flowers' veteran teammates at least believe he can do it.

"Ereck has all the attributes to play left tackle," Schwartz said. "He's got the size, the strength, the athleticism and the attitude."

He' also has a couple more months before the season starts, which is good. Because he has a lot to learn and practice.