Petrus Looking to Make Strong Contribution

The mock nickname was placed over Mitch Petrus' nameplate for all to see in the Giants locker room.

It was a typical practical joke played by the Giants needling group of veteran offensive linemen, and Petrus took the rookie hazing in stride. The young guard understands he'll have plenty to prove before they'll trust that he's one of them.

"I haven't played a down in the NFL yet, so I have to come in and earn their respect," Petrus said. "They're not going to show me [respect]. I haven't played and I don't deserve it. As time goes on, and I get the opportunity to show myself, I think it'll all work out."

Petrus, the Giants' fifth-round pick, is confident because he has successfully traveled this road before.

The 6-3, 310-pound Petrus had only one scholarship offer after his senior season at Carlisle (Ark.) High School. He declined Division II Arkansas Tech's offer to walk on at the University of Arkansas, the team he adored growing up.

He arrived in Fayetteville in 2005 as a tight end/fullback/linebacker, but by 2007 Petrus was a starting left guard who was blowing open holes for future first-round draft picks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Petrus was academically ineligible in 2008, yet returned to make Arkansas' academic honor roll in 2009, when he also was named first team All-SEC.

Petrus' athleticism for a player his size, strength and toughness should enable him to provide depth behind entrenched starting guards Rich Seubert and Chris Snee.

"He's strong," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He can anchor in there. He is powerful. He can block those three techniques (defensive tackles) that we will see all of the time in this division. He can pull."

Petrus' brute strength was on full display during the NFL Scouting Combine in February in Indianapolis. He tied the Combine record by bench-pressing 225 pounds 45 times, a mark first established by Ohio State's Mike Kudla in 2006.

Still, he left Indianapolis a little disappointed.

"I thought the record was 43," Petrus said. "I went as hard as I could. I put all the energy I had into it. But looking back at it, I guess I should've tried one more. It feels good to finish the last rep, instead of not getting it. I didn't think I had anything left, but after I looked at the tape, I went, ‘Man, at least you should've tried.' But it was a good experience."

The Giants Beat Top Stories