Second-round pick Will Hernandez has played every snap this season at left guard for the Giants.
That’s a rarity for a rookie, according to offensive line coach Hal Hunter, who said Hernandez’s dramatic improvement has been a key factor in the improved overall play of the unit in the second half of the season entering Sunday’s finale against Dallas.
“For a rookie to play for you, it’s tough. I had a rookie once out in San Diego start for me at left tackle, but he had played in the SEC, so he played against that competition,” Hunter said before practice Friday. “Will had come from a smaller program [Texas El-Paso] … so he had to jump a couple of levels and get thrown in there right away. I think the one thing that’s helped him is he’s been able to adjust to the speed of the game.
“His missed assignments have just gone way [down]. The first and second half of the season have been like night and day.”
Pat Shurmur’s son, Kyle, finished his collegiate career as Vanderbilt’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown tosses after a 45-38 loss to Baylor on Thursday night in the Texas Bowl.
Now, the senior becomes another quarterback prospect for the Giants and other NFL teams to scout ahead of the 2019 draft.
“I’ve already scouted him, as you might expect,” Pat Shurmur joked. “But I think what’s important is he needs to go through the paces, and the people that don’t know him as well as I do need to decide what they think of him. I think that’s the fairest way to do this thing.
“I’ve tried to guide him along the way. I’ve always stayed out of it, though. I haven’t called Vanderbilt one time in his tenure there to talk anything about football. … I’ve been his dad for a long time. We’ve played catch quite a bit, but I never was his coach. I’ve watched some dads get really into it, and I just really trusted the coaches that he’s worked with and watched him with great pride and tried to help him where I could.”
In addition to Odell Beckham Jr. (quad), tight end Rhett Ellison (concussion), linebacker Alec Ogletree (concussion), wide receiver Russell Shepard (ankle) and defensive lineman Mario Edwards (calf) will be out Sunday against Dallas. Asked if rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta would be active, Shurmur said only, “Potentially.”
Asked about the possibility Sunday’s game could be Eli Manning’s final one with the Giants, Cowboys defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence told reporters in Dallas: “I don’t care. Are we supposed to take it easy on him?”