Joshua Ezeudu is Ready to Step Up if Number is Called

Joshua Ezeudu is Ready to Step Up if Number is Called

It’s fair to say that New York Giants offensive lineman Joshua Ezeudu’s rookie campaign didn’t quite go as he hoped it would.


Besides the stress of having to relocate to a new city, learn a new playbook, and get acclimated to new processes and people, the former North Carolina offensive lineman dealt with the scary diagnosis of having to deal with a neck injury that ended his budding rookie campaign prematurely.


Before that, he had given the Giants 289 snaps at left guard when injuries kept striking down whoever played the position. Ezeudu, 6-foot-4 and 308 pounds came out of the chute impressing everyone with a nice combination of size, physicality, and mobility, and showing a versatile game, especially run-blocking, creating movement as well as blocking in space, but predictably struggling in pass blocking as many rookie offensive linemen tend to do when facing the upgraded speed of the game.



“Everything in my first year, I was just kind of in my head ’cause I was hurt,” he told Giants Country in reflecting on his rookie season. “I didn’t have the confidence in myself and my body too.

That lack of confidence, he admitted, manifested in his technique. “I knew the technique, but I just didn’t trust myself. I didn’t have the same strength. So, my technique last year took a toll because it was my first year in the league. I’m seeing a whole bunch of new stuff, and I’m hurt, so that didn’t help.”


What did help was that the Giants, and in particular offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, didn’t give up on him.


Once Ezeudu was cleared medically to resume football-related activities with no restrictions, he dove in head first in the off-season to improve his reaction time, footwork, hand placement, and technique. He was cleared of the neck issue and soon began to take a deeper look at the role of the offensive lineman in the NFL.

“In college, you can just play. But in the NFL, everything somebody does, they’re doing it for a reason,” he said. “Not just because they’re taught to, or like the coach, you know, tells ’em to too. I’m playing in more control against speed.”


While disappointing for Ezeudu, he’s always been about doing whatever is necessary to help the team. And what he might have to do to help the team at some point–perhaps even as soon as this weekend when the Giants visit the Arizona Cardinals–is step in at offensive tackle, a position he played at North Carolina.

Left tackle Andrew Thomas is currently nursing a hamstring issue, and it’s thought that he won’t play Sunday, what with another game on the Giants’ schedule four days later at San Francisco. Matt Peart, who won the backup swing tackle role, has also been limited in practice all week while dealing with an elbow injury that he believes won’t deter him if he is needed to step in for Thomas.


But Ezueu, who came in for Peart at left tackle after Thomas came out of last week’s season opener, acquitted himself well, proving to be lighter on his feet, playing his angles well, bending at the knees, showing balance in space, and using his hands well.


“He did good, he’s been practicing there for a while,” head coach Brian Daboll said of Ezeudu’s snaps at left tackle. “He’s certainly an option at that spot, too.”


Offensive line coach Bobby Johnson was asked why the team has confidence that Ezeudu can play left tackle, arguably one of the toughest spots on the offensive line to play, when he couldn’t win the starting left guard spot.


Johnson cited the work Ezeudu has done in practice.


“We prepare for a lot of different scenarios week in and week out,” he said. “You gotta be prepared. You can’t wait until they happen. So I have a lot of confidence in a lot of things that we work on. And the only way you’re gonna find out if the guy’s ready is if he has to do it. So if he’s called upon, I’m confident that he’ll be able to step up.”


If the much more confident Ezeudu does have his number called to step in at left tackle, he promises to be ready.


“Wherever coach needs me, I’ll be ready to get the job done,” he said.


The talent is there; now all Ezeudu, who turns 24 on September 19, needs to do is to be more consistent in his decision-making, which many believe has held him back.


But that, too, is coming sooner than later.

“The more and more reps I get, the more I have a chance to learn,” he said with a smile.

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