New York Giants' fifth-round draft pick Shane Lemieux, who played mostly at left guard for Oregon, has every intention of helping the Giants win and be competitive.
What he doesn’t know as of yet is what kind of role he’ll be asked to fill to accomplish that goal.
“I'm a football player that plays offensive line,” Lemieux said during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. “No matter where the coaches want to put me to help the team, that's where I'm going to go.”
That might sound like every other drafted rookie who is looking to get off on the right foot with his new team, but not only does Lemieux mean it, he’s likely going to have to back up his words with action.
The 6-foot-4, 316-pound Lemieux could be looking at having to contribute to the Giants as a center, and in recognizing that possibility existed regardless of what team he ended up with, Lemieux took matters in his own hands by keeping that open mind and commencing cross-training.
“Through this draft process, I understood that this game's all about versatility, and I think that just me getting good at all three interior positions is going to benefit me well in the future,” Lemieux said during was video conference call with reporters.
With the Giants set for the season at guard—veterans Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler are returning at the positions—Lemieux could be asked to think about a future at center, a position that the Giants didn’t address in the draft.
Lemieux, who took it upon himself to begin cross-training at center, said he’s been working with former NFL center LeCharles Bentley at a private training center in Arizona.
Yeah. So basically, I've been at a private training facility (Oline Performance) in Arizona,” he said, adding that Bentley has been doing a good job with enforcing social distancing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have the same group of guys that's been the gym the last four months. So we live in this bubble, and we do a really good job with training.”
Gradually, Lemieux’s goal is to overcome the challenges of playing center, including moving with the ball and the varied techniques that differ from playing guard.
“Every single offensive line position is going to have different techniques,” Lemieux said of the challenges of playing center. “With centers, there's a lot more responsibility on you to know the offense and to know more of the defense and be more sound with what's going on around you. And then obviously you gotta snap the ball.”
Giants head coach Joe Judge, when asked about how the coaches plan to overcome the challenges of cross-training athletes for different positions, said that while ideally, the bulk of the work takes place through reps on the field, there are some other things that they can do to get a player ready for a position switch.
“The cross-training physically, really at this point right now, comes on the players themselves through the strength program we’ve given them," Judge said Saturday after the draft.
"But we’ve incorporated along with conditioning some agility drills as well that will fit into position specifics. So, we can go ahead and say for center reps, for guard reps, for tackle reps with the agilities, this is what you’re going to work today on a daily basis.”
Lemieux is confident that whatever role is asked of him, he’ll not only be ready, but it will feel like old hat.
“I think I'm a natural offense lineman where I can play any position I'm asked,” he said.
“There's techniques and differences between each position. There are set line differences if you're a guard, a tackle, and at center. The more reps, the more comfortable you get at any position. And I've taken so many reps over my career that I'm comfortable at any position.”