Pugh gotta believe the 2013 1st-rounder is ready to break out.
For all the criticism the New York Giants offensive line has taken, let guard Justin Pugh, the 19th overall selection of the 2013 draft has been one of the most consistent performers.
For as good as Pugh has been, he’s still part of a starting unit that has not lived up to expectations despite bearing two first-rounders, one second rounder, one seventh rounder and a free agent.
Pugh, one of the young leaders on that offensive line, has heard it all before. This time around, he has a better feeling about the coming year.
“I think that’s been a theme in every season that I’ve been here,” Pugh said when confronted about the line’s past struggles.
“I’m excited about this group. We got a bunch of guys that are willing to work hard and (Offensive Line Coach Mike) Solari is getting everybody right. So, it going to be better; we’re definitely going to see an improvement.”
Let’s hope he knows something the rest of us don’t after viewing pad-less practices with no contact.
Can Pugh stay healthy this season?
As strong as Pugh as been on the line, he has not played a full season since his rookie year in 2013. His injury absences have not usually been prolonged, but his prescience is sorely missed on the line when he’s not there.
For example, Pugh, dealing with a knee injury, sat out the Giants’ early December visit to Pittsburgh, a 24-14 loss that featured perhaps the Giants’ worst offensive performance of the season. The next week, in a win over Dallas, Eli Manning was sacked a season-high three times, his offensive line also missing Pugh.
While minicamp was a no-go for precautionary reasons–Pugh had a back issue that isn’t expected to keep him out of the start of training camp–if Pugh can stay healthy, it will do wonders for the Giants’ chances this season.
How can Pugh help with the Giants’ young running backs?
In Pro Football Focus’s analysis of all 32 offensive lines, Pugh was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 15th best guard over the last two years when healthy, making him one of the bright spots on an offensive line tanked by PFF as the 28th best in the league entering the 2017 season.
With the Giants going through a youth movement in the running back spot, featuring sophomore back Paul Perkins and their most recent draft pick, fourth-rounder Wayne Gallman, Pugh’s run-blocking prowess will be vital if the Giants hope to open up the avenue between the tackles.
The leader of the Giants’ offensive line, Pugh is known for openness on the field and with the media, but now he knows it’s time to get down to business to help the Giants advance to their true potential.
If all pans out, Pugh could very well end up with his first Pro Bowl appearance and a nice new contract after this season that ensures he remains a Giant as he enters the prime of his career.