Giants’ offensive line strategy sparked best rushing day yet

At one point in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-20 victory over Washington at FedEx Field, the Giants had three rookies in the game on their offensive line, by design.

Andrew Thomas, as usual, started at left tackle. Shane Lemieux started at left guard for the second consecutive week, replacing Will Hernandez, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Matt Peart, the third-round pick, came in to replace Cam Fleming, a rotation the Giants have been using the past few weeks.

The Giants had 109 rushing yards at halftime, which was met with approval by Hernandez, who tweeted, “Hell yeah boys.’’

At one point in the second quarter, little-used Chad Slade came into the game, replacing Lemieux at left guard. In the fourth quarter, Thomas was seated on the bench and Peart was in at left tackle, one rookie (third round) in place of another (first round).

“Tackle-wise, we’re really three for two at that spot,’’ head coach Joe Judge said. “Guard-wise, Will should be back sooner than later for us. I plan on being three-for-two at those positions as well inside. We’re going to try to play everyone at the game every week, make sure we stay fresh, give everybody experience.’’

The final total: 35 rushing attempts for 166 yards, both season highs.

“They’ve done a great job these last few weeks,’’ quarterback Daniel Jones said. [Offensive line] coach [Marc] Colombo has ’em going and rotating those guys in and out and keeping ’em fresh. We ran the ball effectively all day. That was a big advantage for us. Those guys did a great job up front against a really good defensive front that had the ability to really impact the game and change the game.’’

The Giants’ last five games (two wins, three losses) were decided by a total of 10 points. … TE Kaden Smith was forced out of the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Smith was a big factor in the run blocking before he left the field.

Rookie WR Austin Mack, subbing for left-at-home veteran Golden Tate, caught four passes for 72 yards, including breaking free for a 50-yard completion in the first quarter that set up a field goal.

“Austin did a great job stepping up and made a lot of plays for us,’’ Jones said. “He’s someone you can trust to be in the right spot. I certainly have a lot of trust in him.’’

Jones could be heard shouting “Eli, Eli, Eli’’ as he changed a play at the line of scrimmage, a check that pays homage to retired Eli Manning. Jones laughed when asked about this and said Manning has yet to reach out to him about it.

“Maybe I’ll hear from him now,’’ Jones said.

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