After usurping Will Hernandez at left guard for the final nine games of his rookie campaign, Shane Lemieux is projected to reprise his role as the New York Giants starter for the 2021 season — that is, if an apparent injury doesn’t alter plans.
On the second day of training camp, Lemieux was carted off the field after suffering an apparent injury “during full team work,” per the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard.
While the extent and specifics of the injury have yet to be revealed, NJ Media Group’s Art Stapleton did note that Lemieux appeared to be holding his right elbow while exiting the field on a cart. Having said that, Stapleton warned that grasping at his elbow could simply be a “natural movement” and may be unrelated to the apparent injury.
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Guard Outlook for Big Blue
While the 2020 fifth-round pick didn’t grade out exceptionally well as a rookie — 32.2 overall Pro Football Focus grade — the Giants remain optimistic that Lemieux can develop into the long-term answer next to tackle Andrew Thomas on the left side of the offensive line. A two-time second-team All-Pac-12 selection during his time at Oregon, Lemieux started 52 consecutive games at left guard for the Ducks, presenting similar tenacity that once made the man he replaced — Hernandez — a fan favorite in East Rutherford.
An interesting tidbit relayed by Giants Wire is that upon Lemieux leaving the practice field, veteran Kenny Wiggins, not Zach Fulton, stepped into the left guard role.
Fulton, a 90-game career starter, was signed in the offseason with the belief he would potentially push Lemieux or Hernandez at either of the two guard spots. Wiggins, 32, has an extensive resume himself, starting 32 games over his eight-year career. The former Detroit Lion was signed by the Giants in November of last year, playing out the season on the practice squad before being re-upped on a reserve/future contract in January.
Hernandez Looking Sharp
The best-case scenario in terms of the guard position would be that Lemieux proves to remain healthy and Hernandez can successfully transition and excel on the right side, giving New York two young anchors to flag center Nick Gates. With that said, moving to right guard is certainly a tall task to ask of Hernandez, who hasn’t logged a snap at the position since high school.
The good news is, the former second-rounder appears to be putting himself in the best position to succeed. Hernandez claims to be down approximately 20 pounds this offseason and turning heads among both the coaching and training staff.
“I’m pleased with how he’s worked. I think obviously physically, the shape he’s returned in to play. He showed a level of conditioning through spring we’re very pleased with,” Judge said of Hernandez.
He continued, “One thing about Will is he’s just worked very tirelessly on everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s had great communication with [Director of Strength and Performance] Fitz [Craig Fitzgerald] and the strength staff, [Director of Sports and Performance Nutrition] Steve Smith our nutritionist, [Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie Barnes and his staff, all of our offensive line coaches.”
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