The New York Giants' offensive line, young and virtually rebuilt from tackle to tackle, is nevertheless playing at a level that surprises even the coaches.
So much so, in fact, that veteran center Dusty Zeigler, who was activated for the last two weeks, has yet to see a second of playing time. Why has Zeigler's jersey stayed so clean? Because offensive line coach Jim McNally is fearful of disturbing the chemistry that is building, and because coach Jim Fassel doesn't want to address a change of position that would be set in motion by Zeigler's return.
How? Well, after the Giants beat Dallas on Sunday, 21-17, Fassel commented that "our offensive line played very well again, and it looks like those kids are growing into a pretty good group."
It is a young line that is oddly better at pass-blocking than run-blocking, although the Giants did get 104 yards rushing (94 of them by running back Tiki Barber in 17 carries; it would have been 108 but for the minus-4 tag affixed to quarterback Kerry Collins).
Should Fassel put Zeigler back into action, Chris Bober (who is playing well) would have to move -- either to the bench or to right tackle, where he was going to play until the combination of Zeigler's slow recuperation and Mike Rosenthal's improvement turned him into a center. Now Rosenthal has started to lock down the position, as has Bober at center, and the most telling statement from Fassel is this: "Sometimes I am not one of those who believes you can't lose your job because of an injury. Sometimes that happens."