Justin Pugh’s ‘straight off the couch’ Giants intro followed by major shift

ORCHARD PARK — This all came about remarkably fast for Justin Pugh.

He was signed to the Giants’ practice squad Oct. 4, returning to the franchise that made him their 2013 first-round draft pick.

Pugh had not played in a full year, ever since tearing an ACL in Week 6 last season with the Cardinals.

On Sunday night, Pugh not only played in his first game of the season but started for the Giants in their 14-9 loss to the Bills at Highmark Stadium.

“Justin Pugh, straight off the couch,’’ he said in the prerecorded starting lineup announcement.

Pugh, 33, figured he would need a few weeks to ramp up and get back in playing shape before hitting the field.

Given the depleted state of the offensive line, Pugh did not get that time.

Justin Pugh introduced himself as someone "straight off the couch" for Sunday's game.
Justin Pugh introduced himself as someone “straight off the couch” for Sunday’s game.
Screengrab via Twitter/@NFL

He was elevated off the practice squad and started at left guard.

Mark Glowinski started at right guard as Marcus McKethan was sent to the bench.

The Giants lined up (from left) with Josh Ezeudu, Pugh, Ben Bredeson, Glowinski and Evan Neal.

With 6:35 remaining in the first quarter, Ezeudu went down with a toe injury, and the line nightmare continued. That forced Pugh to move to left tackle, the position he played as a rookie.

McKethan came off the bench to play right guard, and Glowinski moved from right to left guard.

A rough season debut was made even rougher.

Pugh initially struggled at left tackle.

On the final play of the first quarter, A.J. Epenesa ran around him for a 6-yard sack of Tyrod Taylor. Pugh was called for two false start penalties in the first half.

“Obviously, I made mistakes,’’ Pugh said. “I was having issues with the cadence. It wasn’t even my physical issues; it was just getting the cadence dialed in. I wish I could get those plays back.’’

Justin Pugh, pictured talking with reporters last week, played every snap of the Giants' loss to the Bills.
Justin Pugh, pictured talking with reporters last week, played every snap of the Giants’ loss to the Bills.
Charles Wenzelberg

Pugh said he did not take any snaps in practice at left tackle.

Remarkably, he played every snap in his first game back.

“I feel good standing here in the locker room after the game,’’ he said. “We’ll see how this week progresses and how everything feels, see how I wake up [Monday]. I feel good, I’m in one piece. I played the whole game.’’

There was a frightening scene when Bills RB Damien Harris went down late in the second quarter after a hard hit by LB Bobby Okereke.

Harris remained down and eventually was placed on a backboard and taken away by ambulance, a scene hauntingly familiar to what happened last season with Bills safety Damar Hamlin.

Harris never lost feeling in his arms and legs, though, and was taken to a local hospital for further testing.

A wild fracas ensued late in the third quarter after Bills RB Latavius Murray picked up a first down on the Giants’ 2-yard line.

There were pushes and shoves and the extracurricular activity resulted in roughing penalties on Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux and also Bills tackle Dion Dawkins.

The final result?

Offsetting penalties.

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