On guard

This season with the shifting of David Diehl to left guard, the signing of right tackle Kareem McKenzie, plus the solid play of Chris Snee, center Shaun O'Hara and Luke Petitgout at left tackle, the Giants O-line is shaping up to be one of the league's best.

"Playing guard again is going really well," Diehl said. "Having played the two positions early in my career were great. Plus, getting in there early and playing guard going into the OTAs (Organized Team Activities), mini-camps and training camp was great for me as opposed to last year when I moved to tackle in the second week of training camp."

For Snee, having a full year of NFL experience under his belt and the illness from last year behind him has enhanced his solid play. "Being in it for a full year now, you just see things a lot faster," Snee said. "I feel totally comfortable with the offense now. You can't compare last year to this season."

Spend a few minutes chatting with Diehl and Snee and you can see why the Giants, and especially Coughlin, are impressed with these two young men.

Diehl typifies Coughlin's commitment to team play. Despite being the 25th offensive lineman selected in the 2003 draft, Diehl started his rookie season at right guard through all 16 games. Last year when the team needed a right tackle, Diehl welcomed the challenge even though he had only played a few games at tackle in college. Naturally, he struggled a bit and the team made solidifying the tackle spot a priority by tabbing the top free agent tackle, McKenzie. Shortly after the acquisition, Diehl was asked to move to left guard. He happily obliged.

"It was a huge adjustment," Diehl says about playing tackle. "You get more speed guys, speed rushers and you have more space to work with."

Snee, like Diehl, started at right guard his rookie season. But unlike him, Snee was the most sought-after guard in the draft. Snee was taken at the top of the second round at number 34 in last season's draft, the equivalent of a first round pick for guards. In the last 10 years, only seven guards have been taken in the first round. For some reason, guards have the appeal of the ugly stepsister when it comes to being a first-round pick. Case in point: on the flip side there have been 34 tackles selected in the first round during the past 10 drafts.

It's obvious the talented but soft-spoken Snee is Coughlin's kind of guy, too, and it has nothing to do with nepotism. At 6-3, 314, Snee is about as even-keeled as a boat on dry dock. Asked what the difference playing this season as opposed to his rookie year, Snee gives the typical guarded answer.

"I just know my assignments a lot better," he said. "I know what other guys on the line are supposed to do. I think getting more experience cuts down on mistakes and lets you play more confidently."

Diehl is equally controversial. Posed the question of whether he prefers guard or tackle, the 6-5, 315-pounder stays the course.

"I think guard," he said. "I felt comfortable last year (playing tackle), but I think having played guard my first season and coming in early this year and getting situated and comfortable back at guard has been really good for me. Hopefully, the offense will continue to be successful."

Consistent. Focused. Successful. Just the way Coughlin and the Giants like it.

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