Anxious. That is the word second year offensive lineman Justin Pugh says is the emotion surrounding the opening days of Giants training camp.
“I think there’s definitely an anxious atmosphere. Guys are ready to get out there and get after it. I think for me, I’m a lot more calm than I was last year. I know what to expect. I know how we run things, what to expect from the meetings, how [Pat Flaherty] runs a practice, so I’m more calm.”
Part of this anxious feeling can be attributed to the loss of Chris Snee to retirement from shoulder and a variety of other injuries. Pugh admits the loss is a major one for a team searching for consistency and cohesion along the line.
“Chris was obviously a great player,” noted Pugh. “I’m going to miss him in the locker room and on the field. So we just have to go out there and make sure we’re communicating and doing the right things, making sure Mosley and I are on the same page. He was out there a lot of the spring so we have a good feel for it. Obviously it changes when you don’t have a two-time Super Bowl guy out there, a Pro-Bowler, but we’ll make it work.”
Pugh acknowledges the lack of apparent leadership in the locker room, and notes that someone in the room must step up.
“There are a lot of new faces in that o-line. I was talking to some of the older guys yesterday, and I said “hey, it’s a little bit of a different feeling in that room.” There’s no real veteran presence. I mean Will Beatty is a six-year guy but you know, there’s no two-time winners anymore with Snee, Diehl and Boothe all gone. But someone has to step up, we have to play well. The team can’t stop when guys leave so it’s the ‘next guy up’ mentality, I think that’s how the Giants have always been and will continue to be that way.”
Ultimately, Pugh believes all four lineman will successfully develop the leadership characteristics the Giants desperately covet and need.
“I think as the Giants have always been a team where 5 guys step up and play,” noted Big Blue’s tackle. “I think if you look at that 2008 offensive line, where a lot of the guys – you know, the David Diehls, the Shaun O’Haras, all those guys were there. Obviously Snee. I think you really don’t want to have one guy. If you can have five guys all be a leader, that’s a great thing. As an offensive line, we have a lot to do this camp, and gel. There’s guys that are leaders on the field, guys that’s that are leaders in the locker room. That’s what it’s all about.”