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Injuries On Offensive Line Aren't a Giant Problem

Shawn Andrews gives Jerry Reese a chance to look like a genius

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    There are plenty of people around New York who feel that the 2010 Giants are a special team. They've been proven correct on at least one front.

    Most teams would be in the throes of a full-on anxiety attack when faced with the news that they will be playing without three of their top seven offensive linemen for the next few weeks. David Diehl, Adam Koets and Shaun O'Hara will all miss this weekend's game, with the future status of Diehl and O'Hara up in the air as they battle the kind of injuries that, at best, will allow them to play at less than 100 percent for the rest of the season. Koets is out for the year and his status as a non-starter belies just how important he's been as a versatile backup and extra tight end.

    That's a lot to lose all at once, and you'd expect the Giants be one of those panicky outfits as a result. They have been highly resistant to change up front even when faced with rapidly diminishing performances from some members of a unit that's been together for several years. When you prize consistency and experience over ability, losing it brings you to a state of the unknown and that tends to result in fear.

    The Giants are bucking the conventional wisdom, though, and that's what makes them a special team. No panic, just full steam ahead with Shawn Andrews and Kevin Boothe starting at left tackle and left guard, respectively. That's a sign that the offensive line was going to be a concern without a single injury, but, more importantly it shows that as much as they enjoy having reliable names on the line, they aren't blind to the realities of the players they've been throwing out there. 

    More than any other player on the team, Diehl has benefited from the easy Giants schedule this season because it has enabled him to survive as an NFL left tackle without anywhere near the skills needed to play the position. He's too slow to stop elite speed rushers and not strong enough to battle power guys, and has the league office to thank for not seeing many of either in the first eight weeks of the season. 

    Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 70th-best tackle in the league out of 74 who have started enough games to be rated and he's tied for the worst pass blocking grades of anyone in the league. That he hasn't gotten Eli Manning killed is a wonder and it isn't something that the Giants wouldn't be wise to keep risking without seeing their luck run out. Andrews has proven he's able to play the position in the past and his brief cameos this season have been mostly successful. 

    Assuming he's up to the full time task, Andrews will eliminate the team's biggest flaw and actually make the Giants a better offense. That's a pretty thrilling thought given how good they've been up to this point in the season. Diehl could still return, but now the Giants can view him simply as a guard -- a position that's more in line with his limited skill set -- and pick between him, O'Hara and Rich Seubert for their best interior combination.

    This is a rosy picture of things for Big Blue, but if they are as good as they believe themselves to be there's nothing about losing David Diehl that should hurt the team in the slightest.

    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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