EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — A reclamation project off the waiver wire is galvanizing the New York Giants’ beleaguered offensive line.
Just two weeks ago, Jamon Brown thought he was without a job. He was released by the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 31 after spending the better part of four years with the team. Brown, a guard for the Rams who started all 16 games and a playoff game in 2017, was on the waiver wire.
“That was definitely disappointing,” Brown said. “I didn’t see it coming.”
Brown had signed a $2.5 million, four-year contract with the Rams after being selected in the third round by the team out of Louisville in 2015. He earned a starting spot as a right guard with the Rams in 2017 after missing most of his rookie season with a fractured right leg.
In July, however, Brown was suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season after violating the NFL’s policy for substance abuse. He would not comment on what banned substance he used.
When the season began, Brown was replaced by Austin Blythe as the starter at right guard for the Rams and he never regained his spot.
“It was all very disappointing, the way it went down,” Brown said. “I never got the opportunity to make things right.”
As part of a numbers crunch, after the Rams acquired defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brown was released.
At the same time, the Giants’ offensive line was in turmoil. The problems began when former first-round pick Ereck Flowers was released after a move to right tackle from left tackle didn’t pan out.
One free-agent signing, tackle Nate Solder, hasn’t lived up to the four-year, $62 million contract he signed in the offseason. Center Jon Halapio broke his right ankle and lower leg in the second week of the season. Free agent Patrick Omameh didn’t perform well and was released.
Amid the upheaval, the Giants took a chance on Brown, a 6-foot, 340-pounder.
“We knew that he was a starter on a team that won 11 games last year,” Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. “He’s a big man, a really big man. We liked what we saw in Jamon.”
When the claim on Brown became official, the Giants were on their bye week. So Brown flew to New Jersey and met with Shurmur and team officials. He worked out for a couple of days, then headed back to Los Angeles to clean out his apartment.
“I got a lot of frequent flier miles,” Brown said.
The Giants resumed practice last week and Brown was learning the offense. He practiced as if he were going to play.
Sure enough, on Saturday before the game with the San Francisco 49ers, Omameh was let go. Brown slid in as the starter in the game in California. That meant Brown flew back and forth across the country four times in two weeks.
“It’s really crazy how that all turned out,” Brown said. “I’m still learning the Giants’ way. I’m learning everything I can. This is definitely a great opportunity for me.”
Brown was part of the line that gave Eli Manning time to throw, allowed only one sack provided room for sensational rookie Saquon Barkley to run. More important, the Giants won 27-23 on Monday night for their second win in nine games.
“I thought he did a good job,” Shurmur said of Brown. “I thought he did some of the things that we thought he could do. I think that’s a settling force for the quarterback when he’s pretty certain that the interior of the pocket’s going to be firm.”
Brown will start at right guard when the Giants host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. He tweaked his ankle during Friday’s practice, but the team did not list him on the injury report.
“I’m going to bring energy,” Brown said. “I think I can be reliable because I’ve been doing this awhile. I’ve experienced my times of success.”
NOTES: The Giants listed no injuries after Friday’s practice. Brown (ankle), LB Alec Ogletree (ribs), CB Antonio Hamilton (hip), FB Eli Penny (back) and S Curtis Riley (shoulder) all practiced fully, so the team is 100 percent healthy for a second straight week. … Another reclamation project, WR Corey Coleman, whom the Giants picked up after he was waived by three teams this season, will more than likely remain the main kickoff return specialist. Coleman had three returns for 92 yards, including a 51-yarder, against the Niners.