Will Beatty enters the season with a legitimate shot to be the New York Giants’ starting left tackle. It was the position he held down in 2011 before a detached retina suffered in the Giants’ Week 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles sidelined him for the rest of the season.
The injury was Beatty’s second consecutive bump in the road as he did his best to step in and protect Eli Manning’s blindside. His 2011 performance paled in comparison to what he had shown in spurts during his first two seasons, but it was vital Beatty to be on the field gaining experience after missing eight weeks in 2010 with a foot injury.
Once thought to be the Giants’ left tackle of the future, Beatty has looked like an injury prone underachiever more recently. His time to cement himself as a fixture along the Giants offensive line is running thin. New, young talent is looking to fight their way into the lineup at all costs.
Beatty, meanwhile, is limited at training camp after a back injury aggravated his sciatic nerve during the offseason, according to ESPN New York’s Ohm Youngmisuk.
There are currently six other offensive tackles on the Giants roster and few spots along that offensive line have been decided heading into camp. Beatty’s experience at left tackle gives him an edge entering camp, but the former second-round pick will need to get on the field and show that he is ready and able to man the most important spot on the Giants offensive line.
In Beatty’s absence on Friday, offseason signing Sean Locklear filled in at left tackle with the first team. Locklear started three games at left tackle for the Washington Redskins last season, but has usually been stationed at the right tackle position in his eight-year NFL career.
Second-year tackle James Brewer, rookie Brandon Mosley and former starting left tackle David Diehl are all possibilities, but none are more likely to compete with Beatty than Locklear.
The reality is, if Beatty is healthy, he will be the Giants starting left tackle heading into the season. He is the best and only fit and though he did struggle last season, he deserves another full season to show if he is what the defending Super Bowl champions are looking for in that position.
This season should be it for Beatty, however, if he proves he cannot be the player the Giants believe he can be. With so many veterans and young players breathing down his neck, Beatty will be pressure more than ever before to perform.
In order for that to happen, Beatty must step his game up this season while finding a way to stay on the field throughout the Giants’ 2012 campaign.
Louis Musto is a New York Giants Featured Columnist for RantSports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @LouisMusto.