There have been 406 snaps on offense for the Giants this season and Will Hernandez has taken every one of them.
An investigation is ongoing.
What special powers does Hernandez possess to be able to remain steady amid the turbulence, to stay upright through the avalanche crashing down on the Giants’ offensive line?
Everywhere around Hernandez, chaos reigns. He has started every game at right guard, lining up alongside Nate Solder. And Matt Peart. And Korey Cunningham. He has lined up alongside centers Nick Gates and Billy Price. He has lined up with a left side of the line consisting of guards Shane Lemieux, Ben Bredeson, Matt Skura and Wes Martin. At a position group where continuity is king, the Giants in 2021 are paupers, filling holes, patching leaks, moving bodies in and out with alarming regularity.
The best of the bunch, left tackle Andrew Thomas, was blossoming in his second NFL season but now must sit for at least the next three games, sent to injured reserve with ankle and foot issues.
Through it all, Hernandez has endured, welcoming in the newcomers while trying to hold things down on the field.
“The way I can best help this team is first, lead by example and do my job,’’ Hernandez told The Post. “Second, I got to talk to ’em, let ’em know exactly what it is we’re looking for. Let them know how we’re expected to do things around here, as simple as letting them know the Giant way of playing here. Coaches and staff do a good job of getting the right guys, so that’s not even an issue. It’s just a matter of getting them adjusted.’’
Adjustments are a part of the NFL, but they have dominated the offensive line this season for the Giants. They hoped coming into the summer that Peart would take a big step forward and beat out Solder for the starting right tackle spot. That did not happen and Peart was mostly a spectator the first month.
Matt Peart was expected to challenge Nate Solder (76) this season, but has not progressed as much as the Giants would’ve liked.
The time for watching is over. With 2020 draft classmate Thomas out of commission, Peart moves into the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Panthers, pairing with Solder as the frontline tackles. Coach Joe Judge said Cunningham, activated off the practice squad last week, will also get snaps at tackle.
“I always have the mindset of staying ready so right now it’s my number that’s being called,’’ Peart said Wednesday after practice.
Peart’s number will be called, and no one is expecting him to be Thomas. Two weeks ago in New Orleans, the Giants were able to get the ball down the field, as Daniel Jones had enough time in the pocket to wait for deeper routes from his wide receivers to develop. The coaching staff could leave Thomas alone, on an island on the left side, and slide the help over to Solder on the right side.
That plan of attack is no longer appropriate. Peart and Solder are likely both in need of help. As Thomas sits, the Giants will try to get by without him.
“He’s played well, and I hate to see him go down,’’ Jones said. “I know he’s dealing with a lot with those injuries. We’ve got a lot of confidence in the guys stepping up, and Matt’s played at a really high level this season as well, so he’ll step in and whoever else is in there we have a ton of confidence in.’’
As a rookie, Peart played 150 snaps, a more active role on offense than first anticipated, considering he was thought to be a raw prospect, taken in the third round out of UConn. His progress in Year 2 slowed and there were times when it all looked to be a bit too much for the 6-foot-7 Peart. He is making his way back. The Giants need him to hold up.
“I feel like I’m a better student of the game,’’ Peart said. “I’m not saying I’m perfect by any means but I’m fine-tuning the details here and there.’’
Panthers outside linebacker Haason Reddick had five sacks against the Giants last season, playing for the Cardinals in an easy victory for Arizona at MetLife Stadium. Reddick also had nine quarterback pressures and three forced fumbles in that December game, demolishing Thomas, Peart and Cam Fleming, the three tackles used by the Giants. Reddick is tied for third in the NFL with 6.5 sacks this season.
Is Peart confident he can get the job done this time around?
“Yes sir,’’ he said.
Why is that?
“Coming out here in practice, repping it over and over and over again until you can’t get it wrong,’’ Peart said. “Having that mentality of being a dominant force and being that dominant guy out here every single time.’’Internet Explorer Channel Network