EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Veteran Sean Locklear seemingly is no longer an insurance policy in case one of the New York Giants’ offensive tackles is hurt.
With Will Beatty struggling because of back issues, Locklear is the projected starting left tackle for the Super Bowl champions. No one, though, is ready to say that he will be there when the season starts in two weeks.
Beatty remains a question mark. Penciled in as the left tackle coming into training camp, a case of sciatica has prevented him from playing in a preseason game.
After Beatty missed another practice on Wednesday, coach Tom Coughlin said that time is running out for the four-year veteran to get back on the field for the opener against Dallas on Sept. 5.
However, Coughlin refused to say that Locklear would replace him.
Heading into Friday’s game against the Chicago Bears, Locklear is the left tackle with Kevin Boothe at left guard, David Baas at center, Chris Snee at right guard and David Diehl at right tackle.
Diehl finished last season at left tackle after Beatty suffered a detached retina in November. He was moved to the right side when the Giants elected not to re-sign Kareem McKenzie, who is still a free agent.
“We’re always searching and looking,” Coughlin said when asked if his line would remain the same if Beatty remains out. “We’re trying to get prepared with the people we have here. It’s a constant in this league, at this level. Again, it’s an all-the-time thing, the search for talent. We’re going to stay optimistic about the other thing (Beatty), but it’s getting pretty close.”
Locklear spent his first seven seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, playing mostly right tackle. He played both sides with Washington last season and was signed by the Giants as a free agent in the offseason.
The 31-year-old Locklear said he comes to practice every day wondering whether Beatty is going to be on the field, and then goes about his work, trying to seize the opportunity. He has been satisfied with his play in the first two preseason games, both of which he has started.
“It’s a learning process, just getting out there with the ones and learning the entire system — which I’m still probably about 90 percent, 95 percent there,” Locklear said. “There’s still a learning process.”
Playing on the left side also is different.
“Everything is kind of backward,” Locklear said. “You’re playing out of a left-handed stance, and if you’re so used to playing on the right it’s a little bit different flipping to the left. But, you know, that’s part of it. The more practice you get the better you become, and the more comfortable you get.”
The left tackle has a major responsibility in passing situations because that’s the blind side for a right-handed quarterback, which would be Eli Manning.
“Most of the time the elite pass rusher is on the left — and that’s the quarterback’s blind side — so you have to be on your “A” game, of course,” Locklear said. “But you have to be on your “A” game if you’re on the right side, too. But it’s a little different playing left. I guess there is some sort of pressure because the quarterback, that’s his blind side. Obviously guys get paid the big money to protect his blind side because he can’t see from there. But it’s the same on the right side.”
The Giants have options if Beatty isn’t ready for the regular season. They could always move Diehl back to the left side and put Locklear on the right, which would put both players on the side where they have the most experience.
Boothe said he would be comfortable lining up next to Beatty and Locklear, and he played next to Diehl last season.
“I’m not concerned,” Boothe said. “I know whoever is out there will play well and we’ll do all right.”
Locklear will face his biggest test on Friday, going against Julius Peppers.
“He’s an elite pass rusher, as is (Israel) Idonije,” Locklear said. “He had a big game this last preseason game, so they’re revved up and ready to go.”
Notes: Pro Bowl DE Jason Pierre-Paul missed Wednesday’s practice with back spasms, and he probably will not play on Friday against the Bears. Coughlin said that the decision was precautionary, and “JPP” would have played if it was a regular-season game. … Free agent S Will Hill missed Wednesday’s practice due to a death in the family. … CB Michael Coe returned to practice after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Giants fans, how comfortable are you with Sean Locklear replacing Will Beatty on the left side? Let us know in the comments section below…
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