Giants benefiting from Nate Solder's wealth of experience

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There was quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder entering the offseason. After opting out a year ago due to COVID-19, would Solder return? Would he retire? Would the Giants release him to create salary cap space?

After several weeks of speculation, Solder took a pay cut to return to the Giants despite previously leaving the door open to retirement.

After he was away from the game for more than a year, the real challenge for Solder was getting his body back into football shape. And while it took some time, head coach Joe Judge appears pleased with the results.

“He’s been working hard for us. He took time to get his body back going, obviously with time away from the game, take time to reacclimate and get back in playing shape. He’s been doing a good job being in the building, working hard on the field,” Judge said on Friday.

The lingering concern is that after so much time off, Solder may not provide the same benefit as a younger player. But Judge doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“I think it depends on the situation, depends on the player. I don’t think you can make a blanket statement on any one vet or one young player. To me, everyone is on equal playing ground right now. The best players will play and we’ll let training camp sort out the competition,” Judge said.

“Right now we’ll focus on getting these guys moving, back into football movement. Everybody has had a length of time off. Every one of our players had approximately five months off before they came back, and obviously Nate didn’t play last year, so he had a little more extended time. But in terms of everybody, no one has played football in a long time and we have to get everyone back going.”

In the meantime, Solder’s experience is valued. What he brings to the football field later on this year remains to be seen, but having him in the locker room is like having another hardened coach.

“He’s been great with the guys. He’s obviously an older guy, brings a lot of experience, and he’s been a good voice in the room as the entire offensive line has had great communication with Rob (Sale), Ben (Wilkerson), Pat (Flaherty), Freddie (Kitchens) and all those guys been working together. I’ve been very pleased with how that entire unit of players and coaches have been working and the progress they’re building towards right now,” Judge added.

Added center Nick Gates: “He’s a veteran, been in the league 10 years now, and he just brings that knowledge of being in the league for so long. I think it helps the group, especially as a young offensive line, I think it helps us tremendously.”

Come training camp, Solder will lean on that experience as he battles Matt Peart and others for the job at right tackle.

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