Giants Bench Team’s Longest-Tenured Starter

Shane Lemieux's strong play sends Will Hernandez to the bench

Getty Shane Lemieux #66 of the New York Giants spikes the ball after Wayne Gallman #22 rushed for a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sterling Shepard, now in his fifth NFL season, is the New York Giants‘ longest-tenured player on the team’s 53. However, the honor of being the team’s longest-tenured starter goes to guard Will Hernandez, or at least it had.

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Shane Lemieux Keeps Hernandez on the Bench

Since entering the NFL in 2018 as a second-round pick out of UTEP, Hernandez had started 39 games at left guard for the Giants, including logging 2,523 consecutive snaps. However, those streaks came to an end ahead of Week 8 when the 25-year-old was placed on the COVID-19/Reserve list after testing positive for the virus. Hernandez would go on to miss the next two games before being re-activated, a two-game absence that may have ultimately cost him his starting job.

Rookie fifth-rounder Shane Lemieux stepped in to man the role at left guard during Hernandez’s absence, and by all accounts doesn’t appear primed to cede the gig anytime soon.

Despite Hernandez’s return to the active roster in Week 10, it was Lemieux once again drawing the start at left guard. Head coach Joe Judge had noted earlier that week that the team would be incorporating a three-man rotation at guard between the two aforementioned players, as well as veteran Kevin Zeitler. With that said, that rotation never appeared to take place against the Eagles. It wasn’t until Zeitler sustained an injury (concussion) in the fourth quarter of the game that Hernandez finally made his way onto the field. Hernandez reclaimed his usual left guard position, while Lemieux slid over to the right side.

Head coach Joe Judge was pleased with Hernandez’s performance in his first game appearance in three weeks, per’s Art Stapleton:

“He [Judge] believes Hernandez proved he was ready to go physically, mentally and emotionally with way he finished Sunday’s game coming off sideline to replace Kevin Zeitler.”

Hernandez’s Time in New York Coming to an End?

With the Giants on a bye this week, chances are Zeitler will be available come Week 12 against the Bengals, as there was already optimism surrounding his injury shortly after last week’s game.

Does this mean Hernandez’s time not only as a starter, but as a member of the Giants, has met its closing chapter? Both he and Zeitler each have one year remaining on their current contracts. With Lemieux looking more and more in the Giants’ future plans by the week, chances are one of the two veterans are not. Hernandez has age on his side, being five years the junior of Zeitler. However, the latter is by most accounts the team’s best and most consistent contributor along their offensive line.

We’d expect to see Hernandez sprinkled in more with the starters within the closing weeks of the regular season. His play over that time will be critical to his future employment status with the Giants.

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