EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants are hoping to keep the New Orleans Saints guessing about their left tackle for Monday night’s game, though the choice of a replacement for Will Beatty is a no-brainer.
The Giants (6-4) are either going to move David Diehl from left guard to tackle or start Stacy Andrews for Beatty, who had surgery to repair a detached retina on Thanksgiving.
Neither coach Tom Coughlin nor Diehl would say who would get the start at tackle, but it’s not much of a choice.
Andrews has not started a game this season and never started a game at left tackle in his eight NFL seasons.
Diehl had been the Giants’ left tackle since 2007 before moving to guard this season to help get Beatty on the field. While moving him back to tackle and having Kevin Boothe take over at guard would necessitate two moves, it makes more sense in a game the Giants need to win.
“This isn’t my first rodeo,” said Diehl, who has been a starter since joining the Giants in 2003. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had to move positions in the middle of the season and that’s part of being the type of player I am. I am an accountable guy, I’m a football guy. I have always been a guy who will do what is best for the team to win games and if that’s the case (Monday), I am just going to go out and scratch and fight and claw.”
Diehl split practice time at guard and tackle on Friday, working with Andrews when he was at guard and with Boothe when he played tackle.
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said there is always concern making a change on the line, but noted that Giants have a group of experienced backups.
“Obviously up there it can have an impact everything,” Gilbride said. “Not just passing game, but everything, run game, pass game, protection of the quarterback, what have you. You’re concerned and you just hope that whoever you put in there is going to rise up and play the way you think he can, or he wouldn’t be on the team.”
The concern about the line started long before the team disclosed on Wednesday that Beatty needed surgery. The offensive was horrible in a 17-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.
The running game, which has struggled all season, was limited to 29 yards, its lowest total since Nov. 20, 2006. There were also season-low of 278 total yards and 12 first downs.
“I think everybody was disappointed and hurt the way that game went with … the way we prepared and the way we practiced all week,” Diehl said. “That’s not our team. That’s not the team that we are. You never want to lose, but I think I saw the best reaction after a loss. Guys were angry and guys were upset. Most importantly guys were itching to get back to the field.”
Coughlin gave the Giants off on Tuesday and Wednesday with a Monday night game coming up and Diehl said he saw more people in the building on those off days than he has all season.
It’s not surprising. Two weeks ago after beating the Patriots in New England, the Giants had a two-game lead in the NFC East. After consecutive losses to San Francisco and Philadelphia, the lead is gone. Dallas (7-4) has a half game lead in the division after beating Miami on Thursday and the Giants need a win to keep pace with six games left in the regular season.
“People are saying we don’t have a chance going into New Orleans, knowing what happened in the past,” Diehl said. “I think all of us are excited at the opportunity. The last couple of times we’ve had chances like this, guys have risen up to the challenge.”
Boothe can play every position on the line and he has twice at center for David Baas and once at right guard when Chris Snee was sidelined with a concussion.
“Whatever it takes to help the team,” Boothe said. “That’s why I am here. You have to be willing to adjust and be prepared for anything. We have been tested this year in terms of injuries so you just have to go with it on the fly and be prepared, as we always are.”
Notes: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), LB Michael Boley (hamstring) and WR Mario Manningham (knee) did not practice. Manningham said he will play. Bradhsaw has missed the last three and seems iffy again as does Boley, who did some running. … Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell believes Eagles WR DeSean Jackson got caught up in the excitement of the game when he flipped him the ball after a second quarter catch Sunday night. The NFL fined Jackson $10,000 for the move.