Solder hopes he can help Giants salvage season
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Nate Solder knows the Giants haven't played up to expectations this year, and it's on him to be part of the solution.
The left tackle signed a four-year, $62 million contract in March with $35 million guaranteed, making him the league's highest-paid offensive lineman. His assignment was to anchor the left side of New York's beleaguered offensive line and protect Eli Manning's blind side.
But the line has struggled so far for the Giants (1-5), and the 37-year-old Manning has been criticized for his performance. Solder said the entire offense shares the blame for the quarterback's struggles.
"I think a lot of that is almost expected," Solder said Saturday of the criticism. "I think we've done some good things and some bad ones. I think the expectations of me were extremely high. But I think the higher expectations work for everyone. I think we still have a chance to do some good things here. It's not my position to say anything about my teammates. I think we all get frustrated. We just have to move on and go forward."
Manning has completed 68.7 percent of his throws, but the lack of protection has made it difficult for the Giants to push the ball downfield. He's averaging only 7.23 yards per completion, with six touchdown passes and four interceptions.
Solder had been listed as questionable for Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons (2-4) with a neck injury, but he said he never looks at the injury report and will play.
"We just have to start stringing a few together," Solder said. "We have to take it one day at a time, one game at a time. I think every game is important, but we know we're in a tough spot. We just have to keep working and keep improving."
There could be problems elsewhere on the offensive line. Right guard Patrick Omameh is questionable with a knee injury.
Coach Pat Shurmur said if Omameh can't play, he will shift some people around, perhaps moving recent free-agent acquisition Spencer Pulley into the starting lineup at either guard or center and moving center John Greco to guard.
Wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck) is also listed as questionable, and with fellow receiver Jawill Davis already ruled out with a concussion, the Giants will have to make a roster move to activate a third receiver. Bennie Fowler, brought in as a free agent last week, has been moved to the 53-man active roster and may see time with both the offense and special teams.
Outside linebacker Olivier Vernon, who missed the first four games with a high ankle sprain, believes he's ready for an increased role after he played limited snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday.
"I feel good," Vernon said. "I'm just trying to do what I know I can do. I just have to stay solid. I'm going to try to contain and be disruptive to a very good team. I just have to keep after it. If I can get a few pressures, then everything else will fall into place."
Said Shurmur: "I think Olivier played some really good snaps last week and we're ready to build on that."
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