Former Cardinals OL Justin Pugh summarizes return from ACL tear in Giants intro Sunday

Oct 16, 2023, 7:46 AM

Justin Pugh, former Cardinals offensive lineman...

Arizona Cardinals free agent Justin Pugh during Charles Fazzino's art unveiling at the Phoenix Art Museum on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023, in Phoenix. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

Justin Pugh considered retirement before last season, his fifth with the Arizona Cardinals, before he ultimately re-signed.

But part-way through last season, the offensive lineman tore his ACL and not until earlier this month found another NFL job. And less than two weeks after that, he was starting for the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills.

So Pugh made sure we all knew where his path had most recently taken him: From his literal couch to the starting lineup of the team that originally drafted him 19th overall in 2013.

“Justin Pugh, straight off the couch,” he said in his filmed introduction video.

He’s not embellishing things.

Cardinals fans probably know best what Pugh has been through in the past 12 or so months. The 33-year-old admitted before last season that he considered retirement.

Ultimately, he re-signed with Arizona and tinkered at the center position during portions of camp, ended up back at guard and then tore his ACL five games into the year. He didn’t re-sign with another team this offseason but apparently kept at the ready for an opportunity.

Scratch that: He got himself rehabbed and then in football-playing shape after his ACL injury.

Pugh got a call to join the Giants’ practice squad on Oct. 4. And when they really needed him against the Bills, Pugh was not only active but the starting left guard in the 14-9 loss, which was two days short of a year from when his MRI confirmed the ACL tear.

Pugh ended up playing all 77 offensive snaps for New York on Sunday.

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Former Cardinals OL Justin Pugh summarizes return from ACL tear in Giants intro Sunday