UPDATED 1:24 p.m.
Obviously concerned about the health of their two starting guards, the Giants made a shocking addition early this morning when they signed offensive lineman Shawn Andrews, a three-time Pro Bowler and former first-round pick.
Andrews, a 6-4, 330-pound former Philadelphia Eagle, worked out for the Giants at the University at Albany yesterday and signed a six-year contract at 1:45 this morning, according to the team. He has not played since a two-game appearance in 2008 because of a back injury. But the Giants apparently are convinced he’s healthy now.
“Our personnel staff has been monitoring Shawn’s progress for awhile now,” Giants GM Jerry Reese said in a statement released by the team. “He looks great and had a very good workout for us yesterday. He can play both guard and both tackle positions. We just have to take him slow for the rest of the preseason to get him into game shape. Shawn is very excited and grateful for this opportunity to play for the New York Giants.”
It turned out to be almost a no-risk signing for the Giants. Andrews’ agent, Rich Moran, told the Daily News in an e-mail that the six-year deal contains very little guaranteed money. He didn’t reveal the exact terms - - and they weren’t immediately available - - but he insisted there’s “more upside” in the second-year of the contract. That likely means it’s loaded with incentives and escalators related to playing time. It also means it won’t cost the Giants much if they decide at any point in the first year that the signing just didn’t work out.
Not that coach Tom Coughlin expects the signing of the 27-year-old Andrews to be anything but a success. After the Giants’ final walkthrough practice of trainning camp at the University at Albany this morning, Coughlin said he was “excited” to have the former Eagle on the squad, adding that Andrews was in “excellent” shape.
Andrews said that’s because he’s spent the last 10 months rehabbing in Los Angeles and “busting my butt” to get ready to return to the NFL. But even he admitted that he won’t really know how his back will hold up on the football field until he plays.
He was at this morning’s walkthrough, but did not participate. He is not expected to play in the Giants’ preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers tomorrow night.
“I put myself through various tests, and the only test for football really is getting on the field, and just going slow,” Andrews said. “They’re just going to kind of ease me into this thing. Just kind of ease me into it and see what happens, see how the back responds … I’ve done everything to prevent it (from flaring up again) and we’ll see what happens.”
“I would think he’ll get back (in action) relatively quick,” Coughlin added. “He’s in good shape. He’s in very good shape.”
Andrews was in good enough shape that he had drawn interest from four teams, according to Moran. The Giants were his second visit and he canceled two others, Moran said, after he was offered a contract. Moran added that Andrews “felt comfortable” with the Giants and expressed a strong interest in remaining in the NFC East.
Andrews apparently has a little leftover bitterness towards his old team after he was released by the Eagles in March after making 50 starts with them from 2004-08 and making the Pro Bowl in 2005, 2006 and 2007. They picked him 16th overall in in 2004 and he immediately was penciled in as their starting right guard. In that season’s opener against the Giants, though, he was lost for the year with a fractured fibula.
He played in all but one game during the next three years, until suffering a back injury in Week 2 of the 2008 season - - an injury that required him to have surgery that October. That came after a tumultuous summer in which he missed the first few weeks of training camp while seeking professional help to help him battle depression.
Andrews re-injured his back in training camp last year and eventually needed surgery again last December. He was released by the Eagles after failing a physical in March.
But a healthy Andrews could be huge for the Giants, who are dangerously thin along the offensive line. Guard Chris Snee is out indefinitely with chronic swelling in his left knee, and guard Rich Seubert is unable to play in games at the moment because of a broken left hand. The Giants were forced to start Guy Whimper at right guard and move left tackle David Diehl inside to left guard in their preseason opener against the Jets (a move they had been experimenting with in camp anyway, so they could see second-year pro Will Beatty at left tackle).Their top reserve, Kevin Boothe, is out until mid-September with a torn pectoral muscle, too.
For what it’s worth, Coughlin insisted that the signing of Andrews had nothing to do with the status of Seubert or Snee. Andrews, he said, is “just another good football player” who could end up being with the Giants for the very long term.
Specific details of Andrews’ six-year contract weren’t immediately available. To make room on the 80-man roster for Andrews, the Giants waived recently-signed offensive lineman Cliff Louis.
Snee and Seubert lead the list of Giants who won’t be playing tomorrow. Michael Johnson (back) and Ramses Barden (back) will also sit out, Coughlin said. Tight end Travis Beckum, however, will see action tomorrow. He’s missed most of training camp with an injured groin.
Third-string quarterback Rhett Bomar may not need to play the entire game tomorrow. Coughlin said that Dominic Randolph, who signed late on Wednesday night, “knows a few plays.” In fact, a person who spoke with Randolph said the new Giants quarterback has been told to expect to play in the fourth quarter.
Randolph has also quickly picked up the cadence and rhythm of the Giants’ offense, likely because he was also with the team at their rookie mini-camp in May.
“You could see him,” Coughlin said.
The walkthrough officially ended the Giants’ training camp stay in Albany. When they return to practice on Monday they’ll be back at their training facility in the parking lot of the Meadowlands.
Will they be back in Albany in 2011? The Giants have seperate options in their contract with the university to return in ‘11 and again in ‘12. Whether they’re back in ‘11 may depend on whether there is a lockout and whether it lasts long enough to push back the start of training camp, if not the regular season.
As I reported earlier this summer, that’s the reason why the twin options were put in the deal, rather than make it a two-year option. The Giants wanted the option to not come to Albany next year if the lockout causes scheduling problems, and then to possibly still come back in ‘12.
- - with Ebeneezer Samuel, in Albany (for now)