The role of swing offensive tackle isn’t exotic, but it’s vitally important on a roster. Any starter is one game away from falling and the entire offensive line suffers if there is no viable replacement.
The Giants secured a new candidate for the swing tackle job, signing veteran Will Holden on Friday. The move became a necessity when Matt Gono — signed in the offseason to serve as a backup at both left and right tackle — was placed on the bye/left team roster on Wednesday, dealing with a neck issue. .
In the corresponding roster move, third-year defensive end Niko Lalos was waived.
Holden, 28, is a well-traveled player and the Giants are his ninth NFL team. He was a 2017 fifth-round draft pick of the Cardinals out of Vanderbilt. He appeared in 27 games, with nine starts for the Cardinals, Ravens, Colts and Lions. The 6-foot-7, 312-pound Holden started four games at left tackle, two at right tackle, one at left guard and two as an extra lineman.
With Gono out of sight, the Giants were using rookie Joshua Ezeudu as a backup in four different locations – anywhere on the offensive line other than center. Holden, for now, is relieving that pressure on Ezeudu and he will support Andrew Thomas at left tackle and rookie Evan Neal at right tackle.
Lalos was a favorite of Joe Judge’s coaching staff. Undrafted from Dartmouth, he played six games in 2020 and spent the 2021 season in the practice squad.
Tae Crowder started all 17 games last season and in most of them wore the helmet with the green dot, meaning there was a radio transmitter inside to relay calls from the defensive coordinator to the players on the field. Crowder, in just his second season in the NFL, was given the responsibility after Blake Martinez suffered a torn ACL in Week 3.
A new coaching staff brought new assignments. Martinez is back and lines up with Crowder as the starting inside linebackers. None of them, however, make the defensive calls. New coordinator Wink Martindale has given this assignment to free safety Xavier McKinney, which is somewhat unusual, given that linebackers, stationed in the middle of the defense, get this gig most often.
“It’s a little bit different just because last year obviously I was calling it,” Crowder said. “Just having to get someone else’s communication is the only difference. We always communicate as a defense, and everyone always talks, so that’s cool.
Crowder led the team in tackles in 2021 with 130. That didn’t stop new general manager Joe Schoen from taking two inside linebackers in the 2022 draft: Micah McFadden (Indiana) in the fifth round and Darrian Beavers (Cincinnati ) to the seventh.
“I feel like every year as a player you should want to be better than you were last year,” Crowder said. “I know I led the team, but that’s in the past. I’m worried about the moment and what we’re doing today.
Brian Daboll wanted to take a look at his team’s conditioning and as a result, the starting offense was on the field for 15 and 19 game practices.
“A lot of good things, I tried to put guys in a lot of different situations,” Daboll said. “Lots of things to clean up. I tried to make it as playful as possible.”
Jarren Williams, attempting to transition from cornerback to safety, was dropped. Williams has played eight games over the past two seasons.