The New York Giants have been in the process of rebuilding their offensive line the past two years. They’ve been culling players from all walks to do so — free agency, the draft, etc.
Every once in a while, you get lucky and stumble upon a guy such as Chad Slade, a 6-foot-5, 315-pounder the Giants added to their roster in January on a reserve/futures deal.
Most players signed to those deal end up as training camp fodder and get let go at the final roster cut-down, but Slade could be an outlier here. With the Giants thin at tackle these days, Slade is getting a longer look with Chad Wheeler dealing with a back issue and rookie George Asafo-Adjei still in concussion protocol.
“Chad Slade worked as the first-team RT,” tweeted beat reporter Dan Duggan of The Athletic on Monday. “Worth keeping an eye on.”
Slade, who went undrafted out of Auburn in 2015, spent his entire first four years associated with the Houston Texans, mostly on their practice squad. He’s played in a grand total of just five NFL games in his career.
That matters not to the Giants, who are seeing Slade blossom into a potential fit for their line as a backup.
“He’s done a good job. He’s certainly been one of the guys that has caught our eye up front,” said head coach Pat Shurmur. “You’re always looking for guys that can play tackle. I sort of feel like he can play guard as well. He’s actually made really good progress. He played well in the game the other night, especially in terms of his pass protection.”
Slade’s success wasn’t an overnight thing. He wallowed in Houston but his time there wasn’t completely wasted. He honed his trade by practicing with the Texans’ great defensive end, J.J. Watt.
“I told J.J. all the time to tell me if you want that work and you need it,” Chad Slade told NJ Advance Media. “I asked him, ‘It’s Friday. We just have helmets and jerseys on, but do you want to go today?’
“He’d be like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ That means we’re locked and loaded. Everybody else might be relaxing and recovering, but we had that thing. If I go against him, I know I’m going to get better. He is the type that deserves everything he gets.”
Now Slade is prepared to take what he’s learned an finally make a name for himself in the NFL. Things are breaking right for him here with the Giants this summer.
“Being a new guy on the team, you literally have to work your way from the bottom up,” Slade said. “I’m showing the coaches I can move to tackle, doing my work and doing well, and it is eye-opening for them and eye-opening to me. I’ve got that competitive mindset.”
And that is just what the Giants need and are looking for. Slade appears to be in the right place at the right time and the Giants appear to be ready to benefit.