Giants hope Canadian import continues to rise.
When discussing Canadian centers in the New York metro area, you’d figure the team in question would be the New York Rangers.
But this is a football blog after all, and the New York Giants, who are about to start training camp on July 27, have a Canadian center of their own in third-year man Brett Jones.
A former CFL star who earned many accolades and a Grey Cup title with the Calgary Stampeders, Jones made his official NFL debut last season, after he spent 2015 oon injured reserve.
Though listed as a center, Jones was thrust into the starting left guard spot when Justin Pugh went down last season, where, despite not having lined up at guard in quite some time, Jones was serviceable in subbing in for Pugh, at least until a calf injury knocked him out of action.
A native of Saskatchewan, Jones’ football experience in having played two positions could give the Giants a solid reserve lineman if everything shakes out this summer, have a multifaceted weapon if they play their cards right.
What did the Giants see in Jones when they signed him?
Jones’ resume was impressive even before he got to the United States. Selected in the second round by Calgary in the 2013 CFL Draft, Jones made a major impact in just two seasons in Alberta.
He earned the CFL’s Most Outstanding Rookie Award, previously won by Miami star Cameron Wake. In 2014, he took home the Most Outstanding Lineman Award and helped Calgary take down Hamilton in the 102nd Grey Cup. Jones’s coach in Calgary was John Hufnagel, the Giants’ offensive coordinator from 2004-2006.
Where does Jones fit in on the Giants’ current roster?
Weston Richburg has a lock on the center spot, gaining the acclaim of offensive line analysts. The Giants made few additions to the offensive line in the offseason, though they brought in former first round pick D.J. Fluker and used a draft pick on Adam Bisnowaty.
The Canadian’s versatility and skill, however, give him an advantage over the newcomers. He is the only other center listed on the Giants’ roster, and when he did line up at guard, he earned positive reviews, particularly when he filled in during a vital November win at home over Philadelphia.
Eli Manning called Jones “a smart player” after the win over the Eagles, adding “He’s played some center for us already this year so he knows how to play guard, he knows what he’s doing.”
Richburg’s success may be one of the NFL’s worst kept secrets, but Jones may be even more of a hidden gem. If he can survive the newcomers, Jones should once again not only serve the team in a pinch, but has an outside shot to break in with the first team if they disappoint again.