Pugh, Swartz return to starting lineup

With Justin Pugh and Ereck Flowers returning healthy, the New York Giants offensive line could be close to full strength for Saturday night against Jacksonville.

The New York Giants offensive line has been fighting an uphill battle this season against the injury bug, as linemen Ereck Flowers, Geoff Schwartz and Justin Pugh have all been battling injuries over the last few weeks.

Pugh and Schwartz returned to practice on Thursday August 20th, and Pugh is currently rehabbing a fractured back-right molar. The former first round pick described the extent of his injury and his experience with the dental surgeons.

“They kept telling me I was grinding my teeth. I had to wear a night guard, it was ridiculous,” Pugh stated as he started to explain. “Then they find found out once it got infected that there was probably something wrong with it more than just grinding my teeth. I had to go to an oral surgeon to get the image they needed to finally see. So they took the tooth out, put a bone graft in and all this stuff.”

While the operation sounds uncomfortable at the very least, the former left tackle was already poised to return to practice soon after the surgery. The only thing that kept him out was the potential of rupturing the stitches.

“Now, there’s like stitches, so they wanted to keep me out just to make sure the stitches healed up well and it wasn’t a reoccurring problem,” noted Pugh.

The Giants were comfortable with letting Pugh sit out to make sure that problem didn’t occur later down the road. Now that Pugh is back on the field, the offensive unit finally has a formidable bill of health.

“I think we’re healthier now than we’ve been,” Pugh admitted. “We’ve got some things going in the right direction, we have competition now. With (Geoff) Schwartz coming back, me getting back into the mix today, it’s going to be good.”

Having two starters return on similar dates to practice allows the offensive line to gel and become of a more cohesive unit. Pugh stated that he is already notices the strides they have made as a group from the beginning of camp.

“We’re seeing some things and executing some things that gave us trouble earlier in camp.”

The Syracuse alumni also commented the environment of the offensive line and how he believes their attitude has unified them.

“It’s a good attitude, it’s a good atmosphere, and I think it’s going to show when we play with each other.”

Pugh’s statements on the status of the offensive line should be a promising sign to the Giants organization. As for Pugh himself, the Giants could not ask for more of a team player. The offensive lineman is transitioning from his drafted left tackle position to left guard, where he has not played since senior year in high school. Pugh expressed that he couldn’t be more comfortable at left guard as well his future adaptability.

“I think whenever I step on the field, wherever they tell me to play, that’s what I am.”

Pugh should see limited action against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their preseason matchup on August 22nd at 7:30 PM.

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