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Injuries Could Be Blessing in Disguise for Giants Offensive Line

Finding the best five, by any means necessary

By Josh Alper
|  Thursday, Oct 7, 2010  |  Updated 10:34 AM EDT
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Wednesday's practice found the Giants facing a common conundrum. How do you do a full workout when a glut of players aren't physically able to participate?

Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, Kenny Phillips and Keith Bulluck made for a skeleton crew on defense, but that's not particularly alarming. Bulluck and Kiwanuka both missed last week's game and the other two are going to be rested regularly to help them make it through an entire season. More alarming was the loss of Adam Koets, which meant that the Giants were down both centers and forced to reshuffle their offensive line.

Left tackle David Diehl slid to left guard, left guard Rich Seubert moved to center and Shawn Andrews stepped in at left tackle in a line that everyone on the Giants insisted was simply a way to make it through a practice. If Koets is able to return, he'll go back to being Shaun O'Hara's replacement and everyone else will return to their original positions. That's probably sensible, but the Giants shouldn't close the door on thoughts of making some permanent changes.

Although everyone around the Giants seems to have gotten drunk on the Kool-Aid served up on Sunday night, it seems irresponsible not to mention that the offensive line hasn't been very good through four games. Diehl and Kareem McKenzie have gotten beaten often around the edges and push in the running game has mainly appeared late in games with the Bears and Panthers when the defenses were gassed from repeatedly being pushed into the game by offensive mistakes.

The idea that there might be a better five-man front than the one that's currently starting games can't be written off out of hand, especially since Andrews has a Pro Bowl pedigree and has now been with the team long enough to have a grasp of the offensive schemes. His versatility means that there's plenty of ways to experiment with alignments and the long history of the current starting five means that you're not going to screw with chemistry by spending some time in practice looking at things through a different set of eyes.

Remember, the Giants were trying to force Will Beatty into the starting lineup during the preseason. That failed, but it's not like anyone was blind to the shortcomings of the original five before injuries started popping up. They shouldn't feign blindness now simply because there aren't preseason games to work things out. Yes, there's a risk to changing horses in midstream but there's just as much risk allowing Diehl to protect Eli Manning's blind side against DeMarcus Ware.

Assuming the other players buy in -- not something that can be assumed given Diehl's repeated pleas to remain at left tackle -- the Giants can make themselves better at a crucial spot because of the way injuries have forced them to try out things that would never come up under ideal circumstances.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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