ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -David Diehl skipped his summer vacation and turned to basketball drills to help him prepare to play left tackle for the New York Giants.
``I have never been a guy to shy away from a challenge and this is another challenge,'' said Diehl, who has been the team's most versatile offensive lineman. ``The way that I am, the attitude I have and the work that I put into it, I'm going to get it done.''
Now entering his fifth season with the Giants, the 26-year-old Diehl has started all 66 games in his career. He was a right guard as a rookie, a right tackle the following year and the left guard for most of the past two seasons, which included one start at right tackle and two more at left tackle at the end of last season.
With the release of veteran left tackle Luke Petitgout in the offseason, the Giants asked Diehl to move again - from left guard to left tackle. He had played the position in college, but doing it in the NFL is different - although Bruce Matthews just was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in great part because he excelled at all five line positions.
The left tackle normally defends against the opposing team's best and quickest pass rusher.
Diehl took a pass on his summer vacation and stayed home in Illinois. Six days a week, he was running by 7:30 a.m. After returning and having breakfast with his family, he was lifting weights by 1:30 p.m.
To push himself, the 6-foot-5, 319-pounder from the University of Illinois would switch the workouts some days, running in the middle of the day just so he could be in the heat.
Then there were the basketball-style workouts with Tim Grover, a trainer whose clients include Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The weightlifting he did with Grover wasn't much different than normal. The footwork drills were new, designed to help a tackle who will be playing in space on a football field against a faster end.
``It's like defense in basketball,'' Diehl said. ``That's why I worked with him, trying to translate playing offensive tackle and doing the same things a basketball player would do when someone drives on you or makes a move to go to the hoop. That has helped dramatically.''
As a guard, Diehl said everything happens quickly, within a second of the snap. As a tackle, he said it's important to be patient and balanced.
``You are usually by yourself, and you have to make sure you keep the ends wide,'' Diehl said. ``You don't want to give them a short corner to rush the quarterback.''
One break Diehl has gotten in training camp at the University at Albany is going against defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
``Obviously, I'm thrown right into the fire playing against a Pro Bowl defensive end, but personally I wouldn't want it any other way,'' Diehl said. ``Going against someone with a quick step who has great pass rushing abilities is crucial for me. Playing against him every day only makes me better.''
In the two weeks since camp opened, there is no doubt Diehl is the left tackle. There was talk over the summer that second-year pro Guy Whimper would push him for the job.
It never happened.
Center Shaun O'Hara said the Diehl has erased any doubt that he can do the job.
``As big a guy as Dave is, he is athletic, too,'' O'Hara said. ``That's a rare combination and one you have to have to play left tackle. He is very conscientious. He is always prepared, and what sets him apart is his eagerness to establish himself in another position, which he has done every year.''
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