Giants sign insurance policy

With 188 games played during 13 seasons in the NFL, Bob Whitfield certainly isn't lacking in experience.

"You ever heard the phrase, `He's still got it?'" Whitfield said. "I still got it. And it was a great, honorable opportunity to play for one of the greatest teams in the NFL. I was just honored with the phone call. They said, ‘We consider you one of the premier offensive linemen and you're bringing something to our team.' I jumped at the opportunity. I've been working out and I did definitely want to play another year – probably two or three years. I'm looking forward to playing a little football."

Whitfield has long been one of the NFL's premier left tackles. He has started 167 games, including a club-record 123 in a row for the Atlanta Falcons, for whom he played his first 12 seasons. Whitfield was a Pro Bowler in 1998. Last year, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 5 and appeared in 10 games as a reserve at left tackle (he split time with Ephraim Salaam) and on special teams.

Whitfield, 33, is 6-5 and 310 pounds. He is expected to back up Luke Petitgout, the Giants' starting left tackle.

"He's a guy who has played left tackle in this league for a long time," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's very smart, very athletic. He's a guy that will give us absolute veteran experience in a backup role. I think he'll be a big help to our offensive linemen because of his vast experience. He has outstanding size.

"Last year in Jacksonville, (Dave) Pearson went down (with a knee injury in Week Four) and Whitfield played pretty well. He's still a powerful, massive athlete with great wingspan. Even the speed rushers have to go a long way around him. He thinks the game, he talks the game – he likes that aspect of the strategy. He'll be an excellent addition to our football team."

Whitfield understands he will fill a reserve role with the Giants. While he intends to help Petitgout as much as possible, he won't make life easy for him.

"I'm going to come in and be part of the supporting cast," he said. "I look forward to helping young and old guys. I can watch Luke on tape and say, ‘Luke, try this step.'

"I welcome the competition. I'm an old-school guy. Luke is the starter. I can't just come in and say I'm replacing the starter. I'm just coming in to support. And then if there's an opportunity to replace the starter, you have to earn that job. It's definitely not given to you."

Whitfield joined the NFL as the Falcons' first-round draft choice in 1992, the eighth overall selection.


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