John Fennelly, Lead Writer
Replacing David Diehl has become somewhat of a parlor game for Giant fans the past few years. He’s been labeled too slow, too old, overpaid and broken down. He needs to go.
Last year, it looked like his ‘haters’ might get their wish. Diehl was arrested for DUI in June and and then sprained his MCL in Week Two, forcing him out of action for several weeks. He finished the season with his future uncertain.
This past offseason, Diehl did all the right things to survive in Blue. He had his knee scoped, put his legal problems to rest, took a 77% pay cut and got himself into the best shape in recent memory. When I look at Diehl these days, I do a double take. The man looks as fit as ever and is serious about keeping his job.
Diehl is the last year of his contract and has no intention of taking a backseat to first round pick Justin Pugh, or anyone, right now.
“In order to get me off the football field, you’re going to have to shoot me,” he said today as per Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger. Diehl is more focused than ever…..More from Conor:
“I’m not ready to hang up my cleats, I love coming here, I love playing this sport. I know what I’m capable of, I’ve worked extremely hard to prove it to people and I’m going to do it this year. I can sit here and say what I want to say to you guys but it’s all about what I do, its all about my actions. And I’m ready to go…I’ve never been more ready to play football.
“Challenge me, throw whatever you want at me, I could care less.”
OL coach Pat Flaherty knows Pugh may be the future, but he’s not ignoring that Diehl is the present.
“Right tackle is David Diehl. With Justin Pugh working in at right tackle and that’s what we’re starting out here in training camp. We’ll continue to progress that way. It will work its way out whatever which way it’s going to work. Both of them are getting the same amount of reps and we have a lot of confidence in David Diehl. Justin Pugh will get there as he continues to work. “
With Pugh suffering a concussion Thursday, Diehl’s presence becomes prominent again. The Giants will wait for the medical staff to clear Pugh, but will turn to Diehl to do the heavy lifting for now. And that could be for the entire season. No one knows if Pugh will be able to challenge for the job at this point.
Flaherty understands the value of having a seasoned veteran tackle such as Diehl around…
“If you’ve been around David Diehl in the more than 10 years I’ve been around him, he’s chomping at the bit. He said I’m ready to go, I know what I have to do, I have to play better and this is how I’m going to approach it. This is my job to coach him up and … his attitude has been outstanding thus far.”
I have no worries with Diehl at RT and it looks like the Giants don’t, either. Pugh’s day will come. It may not be as soon as some thought.
“He’s feeling better,” said Tom Coughlin when asked today about Pugh, who still has to run the gamut of the required concussion protocol. The coach lauded the rookie for doing the right thing when he knew something was wrong with him:
“He didn’t feel well when he got inside and coming to the meeting was not an easy thing for him, he did. I don’t think there’s any question about that… That was proper. That’s the thing that he should have done. I don’t think even at any time would anyone, who couldn’t really function to capacity, would not bring that to the attention to the trainers or doctors.”
Coughlin was asked about Diehl, who the team will rely on to cover the RT position.
“Slim and trim,” said Coughlin. “We may want him a little bit heavier. Whatever way he can perform to the best of his ability, that’s where we want him.”
Coughlin was asked if Diehl could perform at that weight (around 305):
“We’ll see, won’t we? We’re going to have a chance to see, but he moves really well and he’s done a good job that way and he knows himself the best. He’s been doing this a long time. We have confidence in that, but we’ll see how that goes.”
Diehl’s reliability has never been in question. Coughlin, like Flaherty appreciates Diehl’s dedication and work ethic”
“That’s a nice thing to be. That’s a good thing to be in our business. Be there every day, be reliable, be dependable, and know what you’ve got. It’s still a huge factor in our profession. It really is.”