Would the Giants, desperate to get quarterback Daniel Jones a comfort zone, change his starting center one game into the season? And, if they do, what does that say about the plan they put in place this summer?
There could be moves afoot along the Giants’ offensive line for Thursday night’s game against Washington at FedEx Field. These moves could include moving Nick Gates out at center and shifting him over to left guard, as Shane Lemieux — the starting left guard in the season-opening loss to the Broncos — has been ruled out.
Lemieux played only 17 of the 61 snaps on offense as he continues to deal with a knee issue. Lemieux’s spot on the line last week was taken by Ben Bredeson, who played 44 snaps at left guard. Bredeson participated in only six practices with his new team after arriving in a trade with the Ravens. It is not certain Bredeson will move into the starting lineup. The Giants have other options, as they seek to identify and put their five best players on the field.
One move they could make is to slide Gates from center to left guard and insert Billy Price at center. Price, 26, was acquired late in training camp in a trade with the Bengals. He is a first-round draft pick (2018) out of Ohio State with 19 NFL starts on his résumé, but he failed to hold onto the starting job with the Bengals and was deemed expendable.
Gates, voted a team captain, started all 16 games at center in 2020 but has position versatility. He started two games at right tackle in 2019 and one at right guard. He started 25 consecutive games at left tackle in college at Nebraska.
“Having the ‘C’ on your chest does come with a bigger responsibility,’’ Gates said. “I feel like I’ve always had a little bit more responsibility last year and this year, especially being the center and now probably just being a captain. We’ve just got to get in there and all be on the same page and get everything rolling.’’
It would be a risk to give Jones a new center. The Giants may opt to go that way, or they may not. Washington has one of, if not the best defensive lines in the league, with four first-round draft picks as starters, including Chase Young, taken No. 2 overall in 2020.
Coach Joe Judge is an advocate of rotating his offensive linemen — this is not the norm around the league— but perhaps that approach is based more on the linemen he has available, rather than a staunch philosophical belief. If the right tackle spot, manned by Nate Solder as the starter and Matt Peart as the backup receiving snaps, is considered in need of repair, Gates could swing outside to fill that spot, with Bredeson and Will Hernandez as the starting guards and Price at center. Matt Skura, 28, has started 51 NFL games, mostly at center with the Ravens, and he might also be an option. Skura is currently on the practice squad but could get elevated for the game.