New York Giants’ left guard Justin Pugh has only been in the league for less than three years, but on a team that has undergone extensive roster turnovers the past two off seasons, he is quickly establishing himself as an elder statesman of the squad. Following Monday night’s disappointing 27-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles before a national audience, Pugh was not ready to roll over and play dead for the rest of the division.
“It’s a totally different team from last year, and anyone who watched [the Giants-Eagles] game knows that it’s not the same. We did some really good things, but then put ourselves in a bad situation with three consecutive drives with turnovers. But I can speak to this personally, I know this is a better team than what we had last year,” Pugh emphasized in an exclusive interview.
Prior to Monday night, New York had been competitive in every game they have played this season, with close losses to Dallas and Atlanta. And those who watched Monday’s game from beginning to end saw the Giants at their best, on the opening 80-yard touchdown drive, when quarterback Eli Manning went 5 for 5, as well as their worst, when Manning tried in vain to fit the ball into an impossibly tight window along the left sideline. Eagles’ cornerback Nolan Carroll jumped the route and his pick-six gave Philadelphia a lead that they would never relinquish.
Pugh acknowledges the Giants are wounded, but he points out that many of the wounds were self-inflicted. “We definitely put [the Eagles] in a situation to score some easy points, by shooting ourselves in the foot [with turnovers and penalties] and that definitely came back to bite us in the end.”
If Pugh is representative of the mindset of the 2015 New York Giants, then this team is not ready to throw the baby out with the bath water. “We are excited about what we were able to accomplish thus far, and we’re going to keep moving because everything we want is still right in front of us,” Pugh predicted. The first hurdle for the team will be a test against another division rival, the Dallas Cowboys, on Sunday afternoon.
In addition to his take on the state of the team, Pugh also took a moment to discuss his partnership with Silk to promote healthier eating choices with #MeatlessMondayNight. “Silk and the Giants partnered up and found some guys on the team who took nutrition into account. Being an offensive lineman and having to keep my weight up, but in the right way, I had to learn a lot about nutrition.”
NFL teams are now embracing healthier food choices and other training methods like yoga and MMA, to keep their players healthy and on the field. “Players have started to embrace nutrition and plant-based products. I drink a Silk smoothie everyday in the morning,” Pugh mentioned.
“This program is about promoting a healthier lifestyle and creating a pattern where individuals may lay off meat on a Monday night. For me, mixing in plant-based products is a healthier choice, and it’s given me more stamina and endurance.” Pugh has partnered with fellow Giants, Geoff Schwartz and Rashad Jennings, as well as celebrity chef Candice Kumai, to publicize Silk’s “sideline meat” campaign during the NFL season.