Done Diehl

David Diehl and his teammates still don't know what all the fuss was about. Ever since new GM Jerry Reese released Luke Petitgout early in the offseason, all any Giants fans and media could talk about was who would replace Petitgout, who was the starting left tackle for the past five years.

No one even considered that New York's plan to move Diehl from left guard to left tackle was a viable option. Boy, were we all wrong. Sure there are still the requisite growing pains involved, but Diehl has proven that he's more than able to handle protecting Eli Manning's blind side.

"I didn't know what was going to happen," the 26-year-old Diehl said. "Everyone was saying that the Giants needed a left tackle and if they decided to go that way that would have been fine with me. I'm a team guy. But I know that I can do it; I know that I can get the job done."

Diehl said that all the doubters clearly spurred him to work even harder.

"That's definitely been motivation for me," he said. "Everyone tells you that you can't do this, you can't do that. I've always been one that takes a challenge head-on and proves people wrong, and that's definitely the case now."

The fifth-year starter has been doing that since he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2003 draft. Since then he's started all 66 Giants games. He spent his rookie season at right guard, then was the club's right tackle the following year. Diehl mostly toiled at left guard during the past two seasons, including starting the final two games last season at left tackle. But a permanent switch to the all-important left tackle spot? Of course, no one thought he could do it.

"This training camp I've been real excited to be able to develop as a football player and more importantly, to develop as the starting left tackle for this team," the 6-5, 320-pound Diehl stated. "I know how important this is. I understand as an offensive lineman how important it is to have a dependable left tackle that can go out there and get the job done.

"I feel really good. Am I complacent about where I'm at? No, I have a lot of work to do and I'm going to continue to do that."

Training camp hasn't exactly been a cakewalk for Diehl as his daily opponent has been none other than Giants Pro Bowl RDE Osi Umenyiora. Needless to say, routinely getting beaten up by Umenyiora early on in camp didn't exactly sit well with the competitive Diehl.

"It frustrates you. Going up against a guy like that, a Pro Bowl pass-rusher and a guy with that much speed off the ball, yeah, it was very frustrating," he said. "I'm out here working my hardest and I'm still getting used to things, but regardless of whether it was my first week or not, I'm a competitor. I hate losing a video game, let alone playing football.

"It frustrated me, but it only makes you work harder. But now I understand how valuable it is to be able to go up against a guy like that every day."

Umenyiora said it would have been unrealistic for Diehl to shut him down right from the get-go.

"You rarely see a real good defensive end who is going to be left one-on-one," Umenyiora said. "David is a real good tackle, but you can't expect him to block me one-on-one for the whole practice. That's crazy."

But Umenyiora is fully confident that Diehl can develop into a good tackle.

"I've seen him play that position a couple of times and he played well," he said. "He has good sense, good quickness, good mobility and let's see how he plays against some other defensive ends in games and not just me in practice."

Even though he was never fully certain the job was his until training camp, Diehl eschewed taking a vacation this offseason in order to give his all toward becoming a left tackle. He also tried a different approach.

Diehl focused especially on new footwork techniques while working with basketball trainer Tim Grover, whose clients include Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade.

"It's like defense in basketball," Diehl explained. "That's why I worked with him, trying to translate playing offensive tackle and doing the same things a basketball player would do when someone drives on you or makes a move to go to the hoop. That has helped dramatically."

The differences between playing guard and tackle are immeasurable.

"You have to catch yourself because it's a lot different than when you're at guard," Diehl explained. "You want to be aggressive and be able to punch and all that as a tackle, but you have to be a little more patient and you have to be in a lot more balance in doing it. Everything at guard happens so fast. You can be real aggressive and still save yourself, where when you're at tackle, if you're too aggressive and get out of balance, you're out there in space and they have a lot more room to go inside or outside of you."

Giants coach Tom Coughlin has noticed all the strides that Diehl has made since the start of training camp.

"He looks like he gets a little better every day," Coughlin said. "He is working against one of the premiere pass rushers in the league and that guy is one hundred miles per hour every snap. So having those two working together, I know Diehl is getting great work and if Osi is not on or near the quarterback, I figure that Diehl has him spotted. He has reacted well to whatever Osi is bringing and has improved from that standpoint. It is going along pretty well right now."

Diehl's fellow starting linemen state that no one has any worries about Diehl.

"He's doing a great job. He knows all the ins and outs of it; he's doing a fantastic job," RT Kareem McKenzie said. "We have all the faith in him; the coaches have faith in him, we as players have faith in him, and he has faith in himself."

"He'll be fine," LG Rich Seubert said. "I don't think twice about him."

But most importantly, the man Diehl is charged with protecting said he feels secure dropping back to pass behind big number 66.

"Diehl's been playing well," Manning said. "We have all the confidence in the world that he's going to do a good job. I think he'll do a great job for us. I'm not worried about it. I have all the faith in him."

With only about two weeks until opening night when Diehl will be squaring off with rising Dallas superstar RDE Chris Canty, he knows time is running out until the real bullets start flying. He said he's ready.

"I have no doubts at all," Diehl said. "I just know with my attitude, my mentality, my work ethic and my dedication to being the best I can be, I can do it. More important is being an accountable guy. When you go out there, you're not playing for yourself, you're playing for your teammates. You never want to let those other guys down.

"I have full confidence in myself that I'm going to get it done."

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