EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ereck Flowers is a great big, 21-year-old grouch. It's one of the things the New York Giants like best about their rookie left tackle, but it can still take them aback when they see it firsthand.
"I'll tell you a funny story," Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty said Monday. "Do you know he got mad at me when I worked him out before the Buffalo game?"
You may (or may not) remember that Flowers sprained his ankle in the Giants' Week 2 loss to Atlanta, missed the Week 3 victory over Washington and was listed as questionable in advance of the Week 4 game in Buffalo. Because the team didn't know whether he could play, Flowers had to work out on the field before the game with Flaherty and team trainers. This is standard operating procedure, but when Flaherty went to get Flowers for his pregame workout, the 6-foot-5, 325-pound rookie scowled and asked why.
"He said, 'I'm fine. I'm playing,'" Flaherty recalled. "So I said, 'That's great, but the procedure is that we take you out on the field, the trainers watch you do some drills and they decide whether you're OK to play.'"
Flowers eventually went and did the workout, frowning the whole time. The training staff was satisfied and Flaherty gave Flowers the good news that he was cleared to play.
"He just stared at me," Flaherty said. "But wait! It gets better."
Flowers lasted literally one play that day before coming out of the game. He hurt the ankle on the first play and went to the bench to get it checked out again. The team called him questionable to return. Justin Pugh went over to left tackle, John Jerry went into the game at left guard and Flowers sat on the bench looking like he wanted to just punch the whole world in the face.
"So I sat down next to him and I said, 'We didn't activate you to play one play. Your ass is going back in there the next series,'" Flaherty said. "And he perked right up. First time all day he smiled."
Flowers did indeed go back in and played the rest of that game and has played ever since, even though he's still not 100 percent with the ankle. His rookie year has been an up-and-down one in terms of performance. He's still refining his technique and struggling to maintain consistency with it throughout the game. He had a rough time, as many people have, with Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones on Sunday. More rough days await, as do more successes.
One of the things the Giants liked about Flowers when they made him the No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft was his nasty attitude. As a reporter who's tried to get something out of him in an interview, I've seen it firsthand. He has no use for the media process whatsoever. So it's funny to hear that he can be the same way with his coaches and trainers. The key is that the attitude translates to the field, where Flowers has shown a level of meanness and toughness that's likely to serve him well. He appears to disdain opponents as much as he disdains injuries, and the Giants dig both sensibilities.
"He wants to play. He wants to work. He wants to learn. He wants to be great," Flaherty said. "And I think he will be. I really like his attitude."
As Flaherty found out that day in Buffalo, Flowers has a lot of attitude to like.