Published August 20, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – First-round draft pick Justin Pugh is now a starter for the New York Giants.
Coach Tom Coughlin shuffled his offensive line on Tuesday in the wake of a knee injury to center David Baas, and Pugh has taken over at the right tackle position.
Left guard Kevin Boothe was moved to center to replace Baas and the versatile David Diehl shifted from right tackle to left guard.
"It's the best way for us to play right now," Coughlin said after practice. "We fortunately have some guys who can play in a lot of different spots."
Bass sprained his left medial collateral ligament on the second play on Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts and his status is week to week. He hopes to be ready for the season opener on Sept. 8 at Dallas.
The injury has opened things up for Pugh, who made his NFL debut in the loss to the Colts and looked good.
Starting on the right side, Pugh should benefit playing next to right guard Chris Snee, the Giants' top lineman.
"Obviously we have a lot of confidence in him or he wouldn't be here, where he was picked," Coughlin said of the rookie from Syracuse who was the 19th overall choice in the draft.
"Certainly he has plenty to work on. He's young. Hopefully, we put him in there now and bring Chris Snee along, and Chris is there to help him. It's a good move. The more they can work together, the better off we'll be."
Putting Pugh in the starting lineup wasn't a surprise.
The Giants like to get their top pick into the lineup as soon as possible and Diehl struggled against the Colts.
Pugh, who missed the preseason opener with a concussion, wasn't available to comment after practice. He said before the workout he did well on Sunday, adding the speed of the game was what he expected.
"There were some things that obviously I could have done better, some plays that you wish you could get back, but I think overall it was a good first start," Pugh said. "You get back out here and improve and get better each day."
The 32-year-old Diehl has started 149 of 153 games in his 11-year career, starting at every position on the line except center. He has 42 starts at left guard, with the most recent being 10 starts in 2011.
He had to move to left tackle for the final six regular-season games that season and for the Super Bowl run after Will Beatty, the current left tackle, was hurt.
There is some concern because Diehl struggled last season and he missed one block against the Colts that led to one of their six sacks.
"Obviously I am going to get a lot more attention like I always did going into this training camp anyways but you expect it," Diehl said.
"That is part of football. So when you make mistakes, people are going to criticize you for it. That is the job we are in and the job we chose. I am not sitting here hiding from anything. I am not ever going to hide from anything. I know I need to make the improvements."
Playing inside should help Diehl. He had trouble handling a speed move to the outside and power inside is more his game.
Before practice, Diehl said sarcastically that he would not move inside to guard if asked.
"I have always been a team guy first. So whatever happens, happens," he said. "I have always been a guy who's accepted the role, being able to be versatile, play different positions, it is a value to our team, what they want to do is you want to have your five best guys on the field. However they do it, however they shuffle it, you manage it."
Boothe, who started five games at center in 2011 after Baas was hurt, felt the same.
He said the only major change at center is when an opponent plays a 3-4 front, which puts a defender head to head with the center. The film preparation is the same whether he's at guard or center.
"I'm usually looking at that interior play because guys flip flop all over the place," the eight-year veteran said. "Technique-wise, sure, but in terms of preparing for an opponent, it's basically the same stuff I'm looking at."
Baas started all 16 games last season, playing through a number of injuries that required surgery in the offseason.
"I was frustrated the other day and now I am over it," Baas said. "Now I have to, seeing the news and knowing everything, I know I can bounce back from this, just like everything else. It's not something that I can't overcome."
The odd man out in the line changes is Jim Cordle. He replaced Baas after he was hurt, but didn't get to keep the job.
NOTES: CB Corey Webster (soreness), WR Louis Murphy (leg), WR Ramses Barden (knee), DE Damontre Moore (shoulder) and S Antrel Rolle (ankle) did not practice. DE Adrian Tracy left practice with signs of dehydration. Rookie S Cooper Taylor returned to practice after missing more than a week with a hamstring injury.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org