Giants' versatile offensive linemen adapt to changing cast

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants are playing a game within a game this week: musical chairs on the offensive line.

Shawn Andrews is in, David Diehl is out. Adam Koets is on injured reserve, Shaun O'Hara is in the training room instead of on the practice field, and Rich Seubert has moved from left guard to center to replace both of them.

Kevin Boothe, fresh from the physically unable to perform list, might get into Sunday's game against Dallas -- at almost any of the five positions on the line.

"That's our life, it's what we do," Seubert said Wednesday. "It's still football, still blocking and protecting Eli and running the football."

Quarterback Eli Manning shrugged when asked about the jumbled line.

"The offensive line, those guys work hard. They work well together," Manning said. "They come to the game very well prepared. They know what they are doing, playing fast, playing confident, so they keep that up."

The problem this week is just who will be playing where.

Only Snee is permanently ensconced in his spot, right guard. Kareem McKenzie will be at right tackle, but in an emergency could be moved to the left side.

Seubert is one of the steadiest left guards around, but he will be a center Sunday with O'Hara sidelined by a right foot problem and Koets on IR with a torn left knee ligament.

Diehl, who normally would match up with the Cowboys' star linebacker DeMarcus Ware, has a partially torn hamstring and an injury to a muscle in his hip. Diehl has started every game since joining the Giants in 2003 as a fifth-round draft pick, playing guard as well as tackle.

His absence means Andrews gets to take on Ware, who hasn't had much impact this year -- who has on the 1-7 Cowboys? -- but was an All-Pro a year ago. Diehl has offered some "voluntary pointers," Andrews said.

"But at the end of the day every man watches film and sees things and sees what he has to do," said Andrews, who joined the Giants as a free agent after six seasons with Philadelphia, where he often played guard.

"My object is to be the best I can be and keep guys off Eli, whatever it takes."

Andrews is impressed by the versatility on the Giants' line.

"That's the whole idea in this league, to have the backups or the second group be just as good," he said. "Injuries do happen in this league and you have to have the guys who can step in."

Boothe might be in the toughest position if he is forced onto the field. He's been on the PUP list with a torn pectoral muscle and began practicing only two weeks ago. Boothe and rookie Mitch Petrus are the options at left guard; Petrus got plenty of playing time late in the rout of Seattle last Sunday.

"He's got to go," coach Tom Coughlin said of Boothe needing to be prepared to play against Dallas.

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"If you're up and in uniform on Sunday, you've got to be ready for everything," said Boothe, who also can be used at center. "I'm excited to get out there, it's been a while. Whatever the role ..."

With Dallas in turmoil, on a five-game slide and having fired coach Wade Phillips on Monday, the Giants (6-2) are heavily favored to win their sixth straight. The Cowboys rank 17th in overall defense and 24th against the run, while the Giants are second in offense and third on the ground.

Sounds like a mismatch, but New York has achieved much of those stats with a different blocking unit than what will line up at the New Meadowlands Stadium.

"Whoever is in there playing," Seubert said, "we'll right the ship and keep going."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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