Beatty-For-Andrews Switch Could Hurt

Shawn Andrews spent a second day in the hospital Friday as doctors tried to relieve his chronic back pain and is listed as doubtful for the Jacksonville game. That means Will Beatty will hold down left tackle, but what will that do to an already slipping ground game?

Judging by his tweets, it would seem Giants LT Shawn Andrews remained in a good state of mind as doctors worked over his aching back for a second day at Manhattan's Hospital for Special Surgery.

Andrews spent a few sentence fragments talking about how the painkillers upset his stomach, and how getting a needle stuck "seven inches into your back" is hardly a grand way to spend an afternoon.

But at least he can take solace in that he has much company in the discomfort department. The 6-4 Giants coaches aren't all that keen about losing him for Sunday's game against Jacksonville. He's listed as doubtful, and probably won't make a last-minute recovery as he did after missing an entire week of practice last week, only to play a full game against Philadelphia.

This latest incident appears far more serious, as the pain required his hospitalization. The coaches aren't going beyond this week, but it doesn't take a lot of imagine to infer that such intense pain in a player who has had two previous back operations could put his entire future in jeopardy.

But that is for the future. Of more immediate concern is this week's game, where extra blocker Will Beatty will suddenly go from extra part to starting left tackle. The insertion of the 6-foot-6, 307-pound Beatty in place of Andrews could have some consequences on slipping ground attack.

Even with Andrews doing a decent job in there last week, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs rushed for only 61 yards, the Giants' first sub-100-yard rushing game of the season. Now, the Giants are faced with having more of a finesse blocker in there than the powerful, 335-pound Andrews. Add the fact that Beatty has only limited experience playing beside left guard Kevin Boothe, and that restructed left side of the line looks awfully shaky right now.

Beatty is just grateful for the opportunity, especially after missing seven games with a broken right foot. Screw implantation surgery fixed that, but there is little the coaches can do about solving the experience problem. Beatty did start four games at right tackle last season, and he has come in consistently as an extra blocker in "heavy line" formations. But he's never started on the left side before.

"Certainly, if you had your druthers, it would not be No. 1 on the hit parade," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said of the reconstructed left side. "It's not the way you'd go about your business. But when we put Shawn Andrews in there, he performed tremendously well for us."

In the three games Andrews worked left tackle, after David Diehl moved into left guard and then out with a hip/hamstring injury, the Giants did not allow a sack on Eli Manning. Andrews was a big part of that, as he controlled two of the league's top pass rushers in DeMarcus Ware and Trent Cole. But that surprised few, as Andrews' previous Pro Bowl credentials as a guard clearly carried over to his work outside.

Beatty has no such predigree, so his insertion must be regarded as a gamble. But the Giants have no other options due to all the other injuries up front. Diehl is still a week away from practicing, and C Shaun O'Hara is probably further away than that. Their last reserve lineman, Jamon Meredith, is hardly ready for a starting assignment anywhere along the line.

In a week where Tom Coughlin took Ahmad Bradshaw's starting job away in favor of Brandon Jacobs, mostly for ball security, the further shuffling of the line comes as an unsettling move. If Beatty can't do his part in moving a non-descript Jaguars front, all the switching in the world won't help garner ground yards. The weaknesses up front may keep the Giants from taking advantage of the colder weather.

Rookie Mitch Petrus or Meredith will take over Beatty's role as the extra tight end. But inexperience runs through that spot, too. Having physical veteran wide receiver Michael Clayton around won't hurt, though, since he's not afraid to throw a downfield block.

But really, it hinges on Beatty. If he can do the job, the Giants have a chance at reviving their ground game.

Now, we're going to ask Will Beatty to go up and do the same thing -- it's your chance, it's your opportunity, you've been clamoring for it and now it's here," said Gilbride. "We didn't want it to happen under these circumstances, but it's happened. It's a chance to step up and contribute and play the way we believe he has the potential to do."

Gilbride and the rest of the offense can only hope.

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