Sometimes, nothing else needs to be conveyed.
“Yeah, I mean, I feel like the expectations have been clear and they’ve been set,’’ Patrick Omameh said recently.
As one of the new pieces inserted into the offensive-line puzzle, Omameh was not given a crash course documenting just how badly the line regressed last season. There are many, many reasons the Giants plummeted to 3-13, but a case can be made — and had been made — that the complete disintegration of the offensive line was the main culprit. As a result, there will be three new starters on the line and a fourth player, Ereck Flowers, is moving from left to right tackle in what is a near-complete overhaul.
“To a man, everybody who is in that O-line room and everybody that’s going to be on that field playing offensive line, we understand what the job is and we feel that we’ll be fully capable of getting that job done,’’ Omameh said.
As free-agent additions go, Omameh signing a three-year, $15 million contract ($5.5 million guaranteed) was oh-by-the-way news in mid-March, coming a day after the Giants lured in left tackle Nate Solder with a $62 million deal. Omameh was brought in to start and this spring he is working with the first team, lining up at right guard, with Flowers to his right and center Brett Jones to his left. John Greco, a 10-year veteran (mostly with the Browns) brought in midway through last season mainly to watch, has worked as the starting left guard, alongside Solder. Rookie Will Hernandez, the highly touted second-round pick, is the second-unit left guard, although he has received snaps with the starters.
Keeping Hernandez behind Greco is likely a decorum move by the coaching staff, not giving Hernandez too much too soon, making sure he earns his spot with the first unit. How the offensive line shakes out in the spring is not necessarily how it turns out in the summer and into the regular season.
“There’s a few guys who are experiencing things for the first time, the same way I am. And if anything, it’s just made it easier for guys to assimilate,’’ Omameh said. “Everybody’s on even footing and everybody’s helping everybody else out. So, I guess all the guys really feel like we’re all in this together. There’s nobody who’s like an outsider trying to phase in. Everybody’s jumping in this head-first together and trying to put the work in to get the product we want on the field.’’
The Giants tried to land guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, but he opted to sign with the Jaguars, with the Giants immediately pivoting to Solder. Norwell’s arrival made Omameh, 28, expendable in Jacksonville. He was undrafted out of Michigan and has started NFL games for the Buccaneers, Bears and Jaguars. He looks the part at 6-foot-4 and 327 pounds, and he should be athletic enough to get down the field on screen passes, which figures to be a hefty part of Pat Shurmur’s offensive approach with rookie Saquon Barkley at running back.
Omameh has more experience on the left side — he started 13 games there in 2017. Interestingly, the Giants moved him to the right side, allowing Hernandez to embark on his NFL career in a comfort zone at left guard, where he started all 49 games in his college career at Texas-El Paso.
“You know, the transition is honestly [easy] because I have some background playing on the right side,’’ Omameh said. “It’s not completely starting from scratch. A few things that you need to get back that just comes with repetitions, but it’s just a situation where the more you can do for the team, whatever I’m able to do, I’ll jump out there and do it.’’
Flowers stayed away from the first month of the offseason program. but he has been on the field for the organized team activity practices. This time is vital for him, not only acclimating to a new side of the line but also learning to play in conjunction with Omameh on what will be a brand-new right side of the Giants’ line.
“I mean, it’s huge,’’ Omameh said. “The development of that chemistry is something that comes with familiarity, it comes with repetition. And being able to have the opportunity to work on that physically together in the same place, there’s no better way to do it. So, it’s huge being able to do that.”
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