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EAST RUTHERFORD Rasheem Green Jersey , N.J. (AP) When Jon Halapio joined the New York Giants‘ practice squad in 2016, Brett Jones was one of the first guys to welcome him.
Jones had joined the Giants the previous year as a center in trying to make the jump from the CFL to the NFL, and he appreciated when some new teammates made him feel welcome.
Why not do the same for Halapio? The two 27-year-old offensive linemen became real good friends and helped each other become better players.
Halapio, a guard at Florida, taught Jones some trade secrets at the spot and Jones taught his buddy how to snap and play center.
A little less than two years later, Jones is fighting to keep the starting center job he manned the final 12 games of last season. And it’s Halapio, who is the main competition.
Not only is he the competition, Halapio has been getting most of the first-team snaps in the lineup being put on the field by new coach Pat Shurmur.
Jones isn’t worried. It’s early in training camp and nothing is set. He also has no regrets about teaching the guy who might take his job.
”It’s always been like that in my life,” Jones said Monday. ”If anybody ever gave me an opportunity I wanted to repay it to them. So that was my thing. Jon was on the practice squad and I was the backup center and if Jon was going to play I wanted to help him out and do what I could. That’s what a good teammate does.”
Learning to snap was part of the mentoring.
”He had asked me and I sort of gave him the basic training for it,” said Jones, who was the CFL’s most outstanding lineman in 2014 and missed his first season in the NFL the following year because of a training camp injury. ”After practice we would stay and practice snapping. It sort of went from there.”
Halapio took the long road to the NFL. He was drafted in the sixth round by New England in 2014. He was on the Broncos’ practice squad that season and went to the Cardinals and Patriots training camps in 2015 and ’16, respectively, getting cut each time.
The Giants signed him to the practice squad for most of 2016. He was cut in training camp the following season and re-signed to the practice squad. Injuries got him on the active roster in October and he played in 10 games with six starts at guard.
The move to center came this year.
”Everything was new so I had to learn a lot, not only the schemes Jim Kelly Jersey , but the different techniques and calls,” Halapio said. ”I had to learn a lot.”
The biggest differences are blocking from a balanced stance, having to make line calls and read coverages and sometimes making the shotgun snaps.
”The more you do it, the better you get,” Halapio said. ”In the offseason I snapped a bunch, and even now I keep snapping after practice so it’s second nature.”
Halapio admits fighting Jones for a job felt odd at first.
”It’s just pure competition now,” Halapio said. ”Like coach says all the time, don’t read into who’s taking the first-team reps. Everyone is being evaluated. As far as me and Brett goes, we’re friends. We help each other out in the film room, on the field, outside of football. Nothing is awkward between us. Yeah, it’s just pure competition between us and everybody in the room.”
The Giants have revamped their offensive line after last year’s disastrous 3-13 season. Guard Justin Pugh and center Weston Richburg signed elsewhere as free agents. Guard John Jerry is now a backup fighting for a roster spot.
Patriots free agent Nate Solder was signed to take over at left tackle and 2015 first-rounder Ereck Flowers was moved to right tackle. Second-round draft pick Will Hernandez is the left guard and free agent Patrick Omameh is the right guard.
The center spot is uncertain.
A former center, Shurmur says he is watching the position closely. He wants his centers to be good communicators.
Halapio might be a little stronger than Jones, who probably understands the job better and had 30 NFL games under his belt at guard and center.
It should be an interesting decision for Shurmur.
PHOENIX — For the first time this season Reuben Foster Jersey , the Arizona Diamondbacks had their projected big four in the lineup Thursday, although that did not keep the San Diego Padres from winning the first contest of a four-game series.
Right fielder Steven Souza Jr. was activated from the disabled list after missing the majority of the season with a pectoral injury suffered the final week of spring training, at last joining first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, center fielder A.J. Pollock and third baseman Jake Lamb in the same lineup.
Lamb and Pollock also were on the disabled list at times in the early season, keeping the foursome apart.
“When we traded for Steven, there was a lot of excitement, hoping we could get all of these guys on one lineup card,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “It means that we are getting healthy, and it means the good things are on the way.”
Although Pollock had two of Arizona’s 11 hits and lefty-hitting Lamb had an RBI single off San Diego left-hander Eric Lauer, the Padres took a 6-3 victory at Chase Field.
Arizona right-hander Zack Godley is scheduled to face Padres lefty Joey Lucchesi in the second game of the series Friday.
Without their full complement, the Diamondbacks have not produced at expected levels this season, although the installation of a humidor as well as health could play into it.
They have 381 runs, two more than the league average, but are hitting a league-low .230 and have a .699 OPS Kendell Beckwith Jersey , 12th in the league and ahead of only the Mets, Miami and San Diego. The Diamondbacks worked through a 2-15 stretch in May to regain the NL West lead in June, although they fell into a virtual tie with the Dodgers with their loss Thursday.
“We’ve been two different teams in two different months,” Lovullo said. “It’s been crazy. But now that everybody is healthy, we are hoping that there is a little lineup continuity and we start to do the things that we were projected as a team that we could do.
“We’re winning games. We’re doing OK in that regard. But I feel like offensively with this group of guys on the field at one time, we could do some pretty special things. I know that these guys are anxious to get going and play together.”
The return to full health will give Arizona a chance to assess its full roster as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
“Projecting the things we want to offensively with this group, it will give us a snapshot of what we really are,” Lovullo said. “I know we already are a good team. If guys perform, and we are talking about some good players coming back, if guys perform up to their abilities, we are going to be even better.”
San Diego, meanwhile, found hitting support from Wil Myers and Carlos Asuaje in winning Thursday, and oft-rumored trade chip Brad Hand struck out the side in the ninth inning after a leadoff infield single for his 24th save.
Nos. 2-3 hitters Asuaje and Myers had two hits and a triple apiece Reggie Nelson Jersey , and Myers drove in two runs. Asuaje, who also walked, scored twice. Asuaje has hit safely in all four games back after spending the previous six weeks in the minors because of the Padres’ glut of middle infielders.
“He’s had good at-bats,” Padres manager Andy Green said. “He’s put himself in position to earn more playing time. Whatever he makes of that opportunity is up to him.”
Godley is 9-6 with a 5.07 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. He had a four-game winning streak broken in his last appearance, when he gave up seven runs and nine hits in a 9-6 loss to San Francisco on Sunday.
He beat the Padres in his only start against them this season, giving up two runs in a 6-2 victory on April 21. Golden has pitched well at home, going 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA in seven starts. He is 2-3 with a 5.23 ERA in 10 career appearances (seven starts) against the Padres.
Rookie Lucchesi, 4-3 with a 3.26 ERA, is to make his fourth start since returning from the disabled list with a right hip strain that kept him out for a month. He gave up four runs and five hits in his lone appearance against Arizona, a 4-2 loss April 22.
Included in Lucchesi’s repertoire is a combination changeup/curveball that has been dubbed a “churve.” He grips the pitch like a changeup but the pitch has the opposite break, down and in to a right-handed hitter instead of the true changeup movement of down and away. He also throws a true curve, which he has used more than the “churve” since his return.
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