Giants’ Rebuilt O-line to face tough test in Brees, Saints
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The New York Giants’ reconstructed offensive line will face its second consecutive stern test when the New Orleans Saints visit MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Saints (2-1) feature one of the NFL’s premier defensive ends in Cameron Jordan, who is tied for the league lead with four sacks. The primary job of blocking him will go to Chad Wheeler, a second-year tackle who went undrafted out of Southern California.
Wheeler received praise from Giants coach Pat Shurmur for the way he handled Houston defensive end J.J. Watt in the Giants’ 27-22 win last week. Wheeler will be making his second start in place of Ereck Flowers, the Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2015, though Watt had three sacks in the second half. Not all of those were Wheeler’s responsibility.
Wheeler started five of the 11 games he played as a rookie last season, four at right tackle and one at left tackle. His approach to taking on some of the best edge rushers in the league is that of a veteran.
“I just have to take one moment at a time,” said Wheeler. “You can’t psyche yourself out. You can’t be a fortune teller.”
Shurmur has been impressed with Wheeler’s preparation.
“The one thing about Chad is he cares and he competes,” said Shurmur. “He did a good job in the run game last week and on a lot of those pass plays he blocked really well. He helped us win the game last week.
“He has another great challenge. (Jordan) is a marquee pass rusher. For the most part he’ll (Jordan) be lined up on the right side, so we have to do a good job of blocking him. He (Jordan) is good against the run and good against the pass.
“No matter what play you call he really disrupts the game.”
Wheeler joins center John Greco, left tackle Nate Solder, left guard Will Hernandez and right guard Patrick Omameh in the new-look offensive line.
“I think they did a good job just picking up the pressures, just competing, just keep fighting,” quarterback Eli Manning said. “He (Wheeler) is getting tested again, but we have to help him out some. He practices hard, he finishes blocks. He’ll be fine.”
NOTES: New York placed RB Jonathan Stewart (foot) on injured reserve. ... TE Evan Engram (knee), CB Eli Apple (groin) and LB Olivier Vernon (ankle) will not play Sunday against the Saints, according to coach Pat Shurmur. ... Vernon returned to practice on a limited basis earlier in the week but did not participate Friday. “This was a fast practice with preparation for New Orleans,” said Shurmur. “He’s made great progress this week and he’s close. He just wasn’t quite ready.”... B.W. Webb will move from the nickel to outside cornerback to replace Apple, with Donte Deayon and safety Michael Thomas going to the slot. . WR Cody Latimer (knee) also was ruled out. ... CB Antonio Hamilton (groin) and WR/returner Stacy Coley (hamstring) were listed as “questionable.”