The one constant along the Giants' offensive line this season has been change, and it has continued into the stretch run when the team finds its back against the wall. The recent trips to injured reserve for OTs Will Beatty and Shawn Andrews have had cumulative effects.
Dave Diehl, the former starting left guard, has moved out to Beatty's OLT spot. Kevin Boothe, who replaced C David Baas (who is battling serious headaches and is out indefinitely), slid over from left guard. That spot has been taken by Mitch Petrus, who has gone from typical inactive to starter in a playoff race.
In addition, the team suffered a loss of depth with Andrews, who often came on as an extra tight end. Although Tony Ugoh was signed to replace Andrews as the backup swing tackle, the role of extra tight end likely will go to rookie Jim Cordle.
And yet with most of these changes in place, the early results were good in the Week 13 loss to the Packers. The team gained a season-high 5.0 yards per rush and allowed only one sack and two QB hits on Eli Manning.
Diehl's move back to tackle has gone well. The team was looking for ways to upgrade at tackle prior to the season, and Beatty rewarded them with strong play there before getting hurt. But Diehl has held up well heading into his matchup with rival Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware.
The change from Baas to Boothe might not be much of a drop-off. Observers note that Baas was only having an average season and the versatile Boothe, although hardly dominant, looks very capable in the position.
It also will be fascinating to watch Petrus with his opportunity. The team talked about the energy he brought to the game in Week 13, and Petrus is known best for his power. But his feet sometimes can be slow and get tangled, so it's not likely he will be kicking out into space and leading on pulls and traps.