The allure of pre-season football is to watch how untested individuals perform in such a small sample size. To make definitive conclusions based on such few snaps is silly, yet the pre-season can provide a snapshot of how a player will contribute during the regular season.
One of the "Giant" question marks this season is centered around their offensive line. Age and injuries finally caught up to Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara, forcing the Giants reshuffle their front five. The Giants brought in veteran Michigan alum David Baas to play center while moving David Diehl back to his natural guard spot. This opened up a spot at left tackle for William Beatty to protect Eli's blindside.
Throughout his career, Eli Manning has been one of the toughest quarterbacks to sack. Last year was no different, as Eli tied his brother for least amount of sacks given up, even though he was 8th in the NFL is pass attempts. What makes quarterbacks like Eli special is not only their pocket presence, but their ability to keep an internal clock and make sure the ball gets released before that clock strikes zero. That makes it imperative for Beatty to gain Eli's trust this pre-season. If Beatty gives up some pressure to Eli's left, that internal clock is going to tick a little faster, throwing off his timing with his receivers.
While Beatty will have to hold his own in pass protection, he also needs to prove himself as a run blocker. The power of the Giants offensive line is on their right side, anchored by right tackle Kareem McKenzie and right guard Boston College graduate Chris Snee. Looking at the run distribution for Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs, the Giants clearly take advantage of the dominance of the right side of their offensive line. Last year, Ahmad Bradshaw had 84 rushes for 413 yards running right, giving him a 4.9 average, while running left 57 times for 322 yards, a healthy 5.6 per rush. Jacobs had a more balanced run distribution. Brandon ran on Snee and McKenzie's side 53 times for 262 yards, a 4.9 average, while running left, Jacobs had 48 rushes for 214 yards for a slightly lower 4.5 average (all stats are courteous of ESPN.com). Beatty needs to prove himself as a run blocker in order to keep defenses honest in running situations and ensure teams do not over pursue to the Giants right side.
In Beatty's first pre-season game, he held his own facing Charles Johnson and Everette Brown. Monday night, Beatty gets another test against one of the premier defensive ends in the league with Julius Peppers. While the Giants still have tons of play makers on offense, they may only go as far as Beatty lets them.
Monday night the Giants starters will play the first half and get roughly twenty to twenty-five snaps. Though it is unfair to draw conclusions from such a small sample of plays, the few times Beatty is left on an island versus Peppers will provide the Giants a small glimpse of what to expect for the left side of the offensive line this year.
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