EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Shaun O'Hara has always prided himself on his toughness. But the pain that has spread around the New York Giants starting center's left ankle from Achilles' tendinitis has finally ended his preseason.
After watching O'Hara fight through the pain from the start of training camp, doctors put the center's foot in a hard cast Thursday. Starting left guard Rich Seubert took O'Hara's first-string practice snaps and will start in the team's third preseason game Saturday in Baltimore.
"It's just something I've been dealing with pretty much all through camp," O'Hara said. "I've had some good days and I've had some bad days. It's been something we've been kind of coping with and working through. It's reached the point where we decided we need to just try to isolate it and give it some complete and total rest."
O'Hara said he hoped this would enable him to start in the Sept. 12 season opener against the Carolina Panthers. But the reality is that the 11th-year veteran will have to deal with his condition throughout the season. Now tagged as his primary backup, Seubert will have to anticipate moving over a spot on a regular basis, even though he has rarely played center in games.
Seubert did work a two-minute drill at center against the Panthers in 2006, and he has had some situational appearances at tight end. But he has built the vast majority of his resume at guard.
"Whatever they want me to do," said Seubert, who's entering his 10th season. "I've played center in practice ever since rookie year. I've always taken snaps. In this business, the more you can do the better off you'll be. I feel comfortable at center."
O'Hara's injury actually presents an additional opportunity for Seubert to stay on the field. His starting job was believed to be endangered because of the competition at left tackle that starter David Diehl and second-year challenger Will Beatty are waging. Also, since the signing of former Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews last week, Seubert's starting status has never been more tenuous.
But O'Hara's potentially chronic condition has put Seubert on call. Fourth-year pro Adam Koets took most of the center snaps last week, but he currently stands third on the depth chart.
"You always have to be ready to play," Seubert said. "We take our quarterback-center exchange and footwork seriously every day. That's our job, to be ready.
"If you're a guard, you might have to play center. We only dress seven guys for a game, so wherever you're playing, you'd better have a couple of backups at center because what if two guys go down? You've got to know what everybody's doing, so mindset-wise, you take the same mindset every week."
Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Seubert will take the first 20 to 25 snaps against the Ravens, with Koets following him in the game. The rest of the starters, including quarterback Eli Manning, are scheduled to play three quarters. Manning is making his return from the 12-stitch, Jets-inflicted gash that sidelined him for last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
O'Hara just hopes the rest works.
"We've been riding that roller-coaster up and down of feeling good and then feeling bad," O'Hara said. "Rather than risk doing that the entire season, if we can calm everything down and make significant improvement for the next two days, then hopefully it's an afterthought once we get to Week 2."
Notes: Safety Sha'reff Rashad returned to practice after missing time because of a concussion. ... DT Jay Alford missed practice because of pain and swelling in his surgically repaired left knee, but he said he expects to play Saturday in Baltimore. ... CB Terrell Thomas (calf) is doubtful. WR Sinorice Moss (groin) was declared out.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press