Shane Lemieux returns to Giants after knee injury cut season short

Red means no.

After missing most of training camp and 16 of 17 games last season, Shane Lemieux couldn’t stomach the idea of ​​returning to Giants practice wearing the precautionary red jersey assigned to many of his teammates rehabbing injuries.

No games and no practices for months during the first major injury at any level of his football career was enough. No more restrictions.

“I was itching to get it off because I didn’t even want the persona, I guess,” Lemieux said. “I didn’t want to be in that jersey, and I did everything I could to get out of it. The training staff did everything they could to get me back out here, so I’m really grateful for everyone in this building.”

The Giants are grateful for a healthy Lemieux, who is practicing at left guard with the first-team offense during OTAs. One year ago, he was penciled in as a starter before injuring his left knee at the start of training camp, delaying surgery and lasting just one half of the season-opener before it became obvious that he needed to repair a torn patella tendon.

“I was in a lot of pain,” Lemieux said. “At halftime I went in and … said that’s enough.”

Shane Lemieux (66) missed all goal one half of football last season due to a knee injury.
bill kostrun

The Giants started four different left guards in the first four games, and Lemieux went under the knife on Sept. 22 to land on injured reserve.

“I didn’t really think, ‘I’ve got to tough through this,’” Lemieux said. “It was just like, ‘My teammates need me, and I love this game so much.’ I was going to do everything I could to get on that field. No regrets. It’s a new year and look at me: I’m here now, I’m healthy, and I’m ready to roll.”

A lot has changed, however.

For one, the 6-foot-6 Lemieux dropped about eight pounds of “bad weight” to get to 305.

“I probably leaned out a little more,” Lemieux said. “Actually, I made a home gym when I was on IR, so that’s been my gig this offseason. I don’t have to leave my house. I’m a workout junkie.”

Then there are the three new starters to Lemieux’s right in what is the Giants’ umpteenth attempt to fix the offensive line in the aftermath of Super Bowl 46 in 2012.

“In this organization, we’ve had good offensive lines in the past,” Lemieux said. “We’ve felt we need to live up to those standards and to those guys, to continue to play the way that they left it. We have a great deal of respect for them. We have a great deal of pressure.”

Oh yeah, there is a new coaching staff, too. However, in Lemieux’s case, is it a familiar coaching staff?

Giants head coach Brian Daboll – in his role as Bills offensive coordinator – remembers getting positive reviews from then-Oregon coach Mario Cristobal about Lemieux before the 2020 NFL Draft. Giants offensive line coach Bobby Johnson – then with the Bills – stayed in “constant communication” with Lemieux after their formal interview at the NFL combine, to the point where Lemieux guessed he would land in Buffalo.

New York Giants offensive guard Shane Lemieux (66) works out on the sideline during football training camp
As part of Lemieux’s rehab, he built a home gym and dedicated himself to working out.
Corey Sipkin

“He’s a tough, smart, dependable guy,” Daboll said. “Plays with a nasty edge, which you need up front. He’s smart. He’s what I thought he was when we evaluated him. Now, when the pads get on, he’ll have an opportunity to show that.”

The former fifth-round draft pick – selected 17 picks before the Bills took quarterback Jake Fromm – needs to show something else, too: An ability to pass block.

All the details of the 2022 NFL schedule:

Lemieux was graded last among 80 guards who met Pro Football Focus’ snap minimum during his rookie season, largely because the push he generated in the run game was offset by his struggles in protection. He allowed five sacks and 25 pressures on 299 pass-blocking snaps and actually received the lowest-possible grade (zero) in a start against the Browns.

“That’s like two years ago now,” Lemieux said. “I’m kind of old-school. Much respect to PFF, but I listen to what my coaches tell me.”

The most significant thing he’s been told so far is to leave the red jersey in his locker.


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