Shane Lemieux is hoping a gallon of whole milk a day keeps the injuries away.
Playing in just one game for the Giants over the last 14 months left Lemieux plenty of time to focus on other ways to make sure he was committed to his football career. He experimented with three options before settling on “The Vertical Diet” created by former bodybuilder Stan Efferding — emphasizing nutrient-dense, easily digestible foods — and became a weight-room junkie with a full setup at his offseason home in Arizona.
“All the guys give me a hard time because I’m always drinking whole milk. They think I’m a psycho,” Lemieux said after practice Friday. “It’s like, ‘Beef, it’s what’s for dinner’ [commercials]. Milk, it’s what for dinner.”
Lemieux, who is practicing while on injured reserve, is expected to be activated in time to play Sunday against the Lions. He was penciled in as the starting left guard each of the last two preseasons, but escaping training camp healthy has proven tricky.
A partially torn patellar tendon wiped out nearly all of last season — Lemieux’s attempt to play through the pain in Week 1 lasted just 17 snaps — and the combination of turf toe and a fractured big left toe suffered in August sidelined him for at least the first nine games of this season. He needed surgery both times.
“It’s been a hard couple years,” Lemieux said. “I’m a ballplayer. I love football. Being on the field is the best feeling in the world. When you get taken away from the game, you realize how important it is to you. I’m ready to get back out there, for sure.”
The disruption was especially unsettling to a creature of habit such as Lemieux. Lunch every day is the same — a stew-like mixture of ground beef, rice, onions, peppers, spinach and bone broth called “monster mash” that he brings from home in a warm thermos. He washes every meal down with three pints of milk.
“I’m naturally a skinny guy,” said the 6-foot-4 Lemieux, who played at a maximum of 295 pounds as a rookie fifth-round pick in 2020, but feels more comfortable now at around 310. “Anything I could to keep my weight up. I needed all the extra calories I could get.”
The Giants are without Ben Bredeson, who is on injured reserve (knee) after starting the first seven games in Lemieux’s place. Two-game starter Josh Ezeudu (neck) was a limited practice participant Thursday and Friday and is listed as questionable, but he will be a backup with a possible role in jumbo packages, if available.
“He’s had a good week this week. I think it was better than last week,” head coach Brian Daboll said. “If we need him to be ready to go, he’ll be ready to go.”
Lemieux credited trainers and strength coaches for helping him stay in shape while missing 25 of the last 26 games and teammates for keeping him positive when a “Here we go again” mindset set in for about a week when he returned to injured reserve. He felt he was having the best training camp of his career before then.
“I’m just more confident,” Lemieux said. “All the time on IR, I’ve game-planned like I’m playing the game. That’s really just mentally put me in a spot where I’m more mature and have a better football IQ than I did my rookie year.”
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