Ereck Flowers quiet man really a vocal leader in disguise

Ereck Flowers is a man of very few words with the media, but the Giants can’t get their impressive rookie left tackle to shut up when the tape recorders and camera lights are off.

“He talks all the time,” guard Justin Pugh said with a laugh Friday afternoon. “The other day I ended up having to tell him that he needed to just shut up because he was talking too much.”

When it comes to reporters, though, Flowers prefers to let his play speak for him. And that play lately has been speaking as loudly as his Big Blue teammates insist Flowers is in the locker room.

Pressed into starting duty right away at left tackle — the notorious “blind side” that is the NFL’s most difficult line position to play — by Will Beatty’s offseason pectoral injury, Flowers is looking like a potential cornerstone for the 4-4 Giants heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Buccaneers in Tampa.

The big first-round pick from Miami has started every game despite some nagging injuries and is considered a big reason the Giants are fifth in the NFL in scoring offense and 10th in passing offense while allowing Eli Manning to be sacked just 12 times.

Manning is on pace to be sacked 24 times, which would be his fewest since 2012 and the third lowest total over a full season in the quarterback’s 13-year pro career.

“He’s a big, strong kid who plays with good strength,” Pugh said of Flowers. “He just needs to keep working on his technique and getting better in that area. That’s the biggest transition for an offensive lineman on the pro level is handling [the level of technique required], and he’s getting it. He’s getting better every week.”

The Giants still can’t run the ball consistently or effectively in short-yardage situations (they rank in the bottom 10 in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and average yards per carry), but that can’t be pinned on their 6-foot-5, 324-pound rookie tackle.

Don’t expect Flowers to break down his game or his feelings in great detail, either. Or in any detail, for that matter.

“The game has really slowed down for me, which is cool,” Flowers said Friday. “I feel like I belong and that I’ve made some really good strides with my game.”
Flowers then claimed he “forgot” what areas of his game he feels he has improved on and asked to end the interview after 90 seconds because, “I just want to go home, man.”

Flowers’ coaches and teammates are much more effusive with what they see from him on the field, which appears to be enough to force Beatty to move to right tackle when he is expected to come off injured reserve next week.

“He’s a great player who brings a lot to the table,” Pugh said about Flowers. “He’s going to continue to grow and continue to get better, so it’s definitely an exciting future for him, for sure.”

Flowers flashed that fiery side in the Giants’ ugly road loss to the Eagles last month, gathering teammates around him on the sideline after their second turnover and delivering an impassioned speech unusual for a rookie.

That’s a sign Flowers has matured and adapted to the NFL faster than anyone expected, as Manning noted recently.

“[The game] doesn’t seem too big for him,” Manning said. “He knows what’s going on, he’s handled everything, blocked guys and shown some toughness.

“He’s been banged up a little but shown toughness,” Manning added. “He wants to be out there. I’ve been impressed with how quickly he just knows everything that’s going on and knowing his assignments.”

Unless Flowers is alone with teammates, though, look for it to continue to be a case of show, not tell.

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