EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When the New York Giants began team drills at Wednesday's practice they trotted out the same starting offensive line onto the field. The tackles were Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart, guards Justin Pugh and John Jerry and center Weston Richburg. It's not exactly a unit that strikes fear into opposing defenses.
For better or worse, that's not likely to change even after the unit struggled again Monday night after struggling most of last year (29th in the NFL in rushing). This is the line the Giants are expected to field when they open the season in less than three weeks against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants at least seem intent on starting the season with the lineup they employed most last season, even if Brett Jones snuck in for a few snaps at right guard Wednesday with the first-team offense in place of Jerry. Maybe it was a reward, maybe it was a wakeup call or maybe it was a message.
"We are spreading the opportunities around," coach Ben McAdoo explained.
It probably wasn't completely an accident that Jones received the quick look with the first-team offense. Jerry has struggled this preseason, and the Giants liked what they saw from Jones on Monday night against the Cleveland Browns.
The way it worked was that Jones was told in the middle of Wednesday's practice to take some snaps with the starting offensive line. It was a surprise to him and others. Still, it seems unlikely he usurps Jerry by Week 1.
Jerry, 31, signed a new three-year, $10 million deal this offseason. The plan was always for him to return as the starting right guard, even after the Giants signed former Chargers first-round pick D.J. Fluker. It's a longshot that changes because of a few poor preseason performances by Jerry, who played reasonably well last season, especially as a pass protector.
"We're going to look at those options and talk through them as the week goes on and see how it shakes out," McAdoo said on Tuesday of potentially giving Fluker a look at right guard with the first team. "But we have not lost confidence in John Jerry or anybody on the offensive line, for that matter."
Consider that an endorsement for a starting five which the Giants are hoping benefits from continuity and experience. They spent most of last year and most of this summer working alongside one another.
Fluker and sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty were the only offseason additions. Bisnowaty has proven to be a raw right tackle. Fluker has been stuck in a second-team role after signing a one-year, $3 million deal with the Giants as a free agent this offseason. He hasn't received many -- if any -- first-team snaps this summer.
The former first-round pick has played mostly as the second-team right guard. He slid over to right tackle with the second team most of Wednesday.
The Giants made the decision this offseason to ride with the same five starters as last season, and it appears they're sticking to it for the start of the season.
They clearly have progress to make. Flowers and Hart are young and inconsistent. Jerry has struggled this preseason while Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg are looking to bounce back after injury-plagued seasons.
The early returns haven't been all that promising. The Giants had 10 carries for 29 yards (2.9 ypc) on Monday night against the Browns, although McAdoo noted it wasn't all on the line.
The offense as a whole has yet to reach the end zone this preseason.
"It's always a process. I think if we ever think that we're at a point where we're good, we're not," Richburg said. "As athletes, we always talk about the process, and I think we talked the other day about if you reach a goal, set up another one and continue to get better. I think it's always a process for us. We're always trying to find ways to get better and make ourselves better as a team."
And as an offensive line, where they're likely going to have to get it done with the same five starters.