Joe Judge explains why Shane Lemieux is playing more than Will Hernandez

John Fennelly
·3 min read

Will Hernandez was selected by the New York Giants in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft and started the first 39 games of his NFL career at left guard.

Then, Hernandez went on the COVID-19 list after testing positive for the virus in early November. He’s been the odd man out ever since.

Rookie Shane Lemieux has started the Giants’ last eight games, even though Hernandez has been healthy and active for last six. Lemieux has wrested the job the away from Hernandez to the point where the platoon is becoming less equitable with each passing game.

On Sunday against Baltimore, Lemieux played 54 of the Giants’ 64 offensive plays at left guard to Hernandez’ 10.

Head coach Joe Judge was asked about the change in plans at left guard in his media session on Monday.

“We’re continuing to roll our linemen throughout the game. There hasn’t been a designated snap count on any player going in,” explained Judge. “Look, I’ve let [Dave DeGuglielmo] have some autonomy in terms of as the game gets going, the flow goes, to put in what we think is best for the schemes that we’re running. We check in and we talk continuously throughout the week.

“The plan is to play all of our guys at the game. It’s always been our plan and to use guys continuously. You saw Matt (Peart) play as well last night. We’ll continue to use Will, and we’ll rotate all three guards going forward.”

Time for a fact check. Right guard Kevin Zeitler is not being rotated. Hernandez was inserted into the game in Week 10 as an injury replacement for Zeitler late in the game. Since then, Zeitler has played 100 percent of the offensive snaps at right guard.

Lemieux’s hold on left has been tight, playing nearly 80 percent of the time there. Hernandez has not swayed the coaches to consider giving him his job back even though Lemieux has had his issues at the position, specifically in pass protection.

“Look, we base everything here on production, so in terms of who’s playing on what snaps, we may have different guys in different schemes,” continued Judge. “There are different times we want to use different guys throughout the game. We put priority on keeping all of our guys fresh, and we’re looking to really develop as many guys as we can. I’d say all three guards, Kevin (Zeitler), Shane and Will, have played well at times. There have been things we want to improve on with our entire unit going across the board. But we’re going to continue to rotate those guys going forward.”

We will see how much the Giants value Hernandez next year when his rookie contract is up. It’s tough to let a second round pick walk via free agency, but these are the 2020 Giants. No one is quite sure what the thought process is any more.

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