William Beatty out to paint masterpiece
'Jack-of-all-trades' has designs on starting tackle job in final Giants preseason audition
When William Beatty arrived at training camp, he didn't bring much with him outside of his clothes and playbook.
While many of his teammates brought fancy flat-screen televisions, PlayStation 3 consoles and iPads, Beatty showed up at the University of Albany as if he were going to be a contestant on "Survivor."
"I didn't bring anything," Beatty said. "I didn't even bring a TV or a radio. I didn't want the outside distractions distracting my focus."
Since camp began at the beginning of August, Beatty has been concentrating on one thing -- proving to the New York Giants coaching staff that he is ready to be a starting tackle in the NFL.
On Thursday against the New England Patriots in the preseason finale, Beatty will have one final audition to show he can start.
The Giants may end up starting the same five that they have for years with David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie in the season opener against Carolina. But Beatty was given the opportunity by the coaches and management to earn a starting spot and he says he hasn't been told yet what his role will be this season.
"The last preseason game, I am feeling confident of my abilities as a player," the second-year tackle said. "I have grown from my rookie season in how I have developed and my understanding of the playbook.
"This is the last opportunity I have to show the coaches that, yes, I am ready for this position and this is all I have to offer, now it's your choice, you decide."
Long before the coaches figure out who will protect Eli Manning's blindside, Beatty had to make the decision to focus solely on football. Football happens to be just one of the things Beatty does well.
Beatty is a skilled artist who was offered an art scholarship to college before deciding to play football at UConn.
While some offensive linemen like to spend their time in the gym lifting, Beatty can often be found in the kitchen whipping up a tasty meal. This summer prior to camp, he attended a culinary arts class in New York to learn how to cook spicy American dishes.
From age 11 on up, Beatty was more the next Bob Vila or the next Bobby Flay than the next great offensive tackle. He was a walking do-it-yourself kid.
If he wasn't helping his mother and aunts cook, he was tailoring his father's dress slacks or helping with plumbing issues at home.
"He is a jack-of-all-trades," said Keith Beatty, William's father. "He can design patterns and sew, he draws, he messes around with the piano. Ever since he was young, he actually did all the fixing around the house because he watched the fix-it channels on TV. If our sink ever leaked, he knew how to take the sink apart and put washers in it.
Three Things To Watch
1. Passing Grade. Rhett Bomar is expected to take a lot of snaps for the third consecutive preseason game. With Jim Sorgi placed on season-ending injured reserve, the backup job is open and Bomar has a chance to show he is the man for the job and that the Giants don't need to look outside for Eli Manning's backup.
2. Special Teams. Rookie punter Matt Dodge has been inconsistent but appears to be getting better as the preseason has progressed. The Giants need him to improve his hangtime and net average. They also need a punt returner. Former Rutgers standout Tim Brown has one more chance to show he can return punts before the team reduces its roster to 53 on Saturday.
3. The Final Rehearsal. While linebacker Keith Bulluck and safety Kenny Phillips may not play a whole lot, tonight is their last warmup before the season opener. Both want to show the Giants that they are ready to start and play an entire game after undergoing knee surgery last season.
"Plumbing, paint[ing], if something needed carpentry, he could do it all."
Keith didn't even know his son could draw until he went to pick up Beatty's belongings from high school after Beatty had been accepted to UConn.
"They handed me this big art folder and he had all this artwork and he had a letter with a full scholarship for art and I didn't even know he could draw," he said. "He did all that stuff in school. I never saw him drawing at home."
Perhaps Beatty was adept at doing so many things because he grew up with such a large family. Keith has 17 brothers and sisters. Beatty, who has seven siblings himself, was constantly surrounded by his mother, Sylvia, and several aunts and sisters. That might be why he quickly learned how to navigate through cookbooks before playbooks.
Sylvia used to have Beatty prep Thanksgiving dinner. These days, he finishes it with one of his sisters.
"It started with cut up the onions, take out the stuffing and stuff the chicken or turkey," Beatty said. "And then she was like move to the next step. Eight years later, she will get the ingredients and she will start it and I will finish. She trained me step by step."
Now Beatty tries to get all his steps down when it comes to protecting Manning. At times, it has been a learning experience. One day in training camp, Beatty drew the ire of the coaching staff after allowing pass rushers to get too close to the quarterback a couple times.
For Beatty, football is like cooking or drawing. He must take everything step by step and once he starts, he wants to be perfect at it.
However, learning the proper techniques, multiple blocking schemes and knowing every play Manning barks out before stopping speedy and strong defensive ends like Osi Umenyiora from getting to the quarterback is a little more complicated than mastering the recipe for his delicious southern rice pudding dessert.
At the moment, the 6-foot-6, 307-pound tackle is still as raw as some of the meat he likes to throw on his barbecue grill.
"The more work we can get Beatty at tackle, the better," offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said during training camp. "Not in terms of 'hey, he's the guy' but he ... is such a raw guy that he just benefits from being out there."
The Giants made it known during the NFL draft in April they wanted to see if Beatty was ready. As a rookie, he started four games, including the final three of last season in place of an injured McKenzie.
Management and coaches said Beatty would be given the opportunity to bounce starting guard Seubert out of the lineup. If Beatty performed, the team would move Diehl to guard and Beatty to left tackle.
Injuries to Seubert, Snee and O'Hara in camp gave Beatty plenty of snaps in the preseason at tackle while Diehl played some guard. Beatty also played right tackle when McKenzie was a late scratch against Baltimore last Saturday due to a migraine. But Snee, Seubert and McKenzie are healthy now and Diehl has moved back to left tackle to get more snaps there.
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Also, the Giants recently added former Pro Bowl guard Shawn Andrews to the mix. Coach Tom Coughlin has made it clear he wants to start the five best offensive linemen to jump-start a running game that stalled badly last year.
Beatty, who was considered the Giants' left tackle of the future, now has to deal with Diehl and possibly Andrews. Andrews, who is returning from a serious back injury and is still learning the Giants' offense, has played mostly left guard, but the team is open to seeing Andrews play left tackle in the future as well.
Even though Beatty, 25, wants to show the Giants in this final preseason game that he is ready to start now, the tackle may have to exercise the kind of patience required when he sketches his drawings.
"Art I found out is very time-consuming," Beatty said. "Just to do a painting could take you a good three to four weeks. You don't want to sit there and just do the painting all at once. You got to do it and then get away from it, see how the colors dry, see what is going on and then come back to it. It is never a finished product."
The Giants hope they won't have to wait long for Beatty to develop into a masterpiece.
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