Written by Marco Imperati
In the weeks leading up to training camp, roster battles will be discussed here at NYGiantsrush.com. As the opening day team shapes out in late summer, the first interesting conversation is who fill’s Jon Beason’s middle linebacker spot?”
When free agency began this off-season, there was arguably no player more important to be brought back to the Giants than Jon Beason. Beason brings leadership, toughness and an instinctive force to the linebackers that have been absent since the days of Antonio Pierce. Along with Antrel Rolle, Beason will likely be named defensive captain by his teammates.
Unfortunately, the injury-prone Beason suffered a foot injury that is a blow to the Giants. The team dodged a huge bullet with the defensive leader not being out the whole season. However, he is unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2014-2015 season.
Looking ahead, the following players will challenge each other for the starting middle linebacker position and wear the headset until Beason returns:
Mark Herzlich: The most tenured of the Giants linebackers working for Beason’s spot is Mark Herzlich. At one time, Herzlich was thought of as the future starter at middle linebacker. He’s had his opportunities, although never flashed. In 43 games with the Giants, he has started 6 games. The undrafted free agent out of Boston College (2011) will most likely make his greatest impact on special teams.
Devon Kennard: The Giants 5th round rookie out of USC played mostly defensive end and outside linebacker for the Trojans. However, his intellect and ability has impressed coaches, which has earned more playing time in Organized Team Activities (OTA). He slid into the middle linebacker position for some time and called plays in the huddle. Kennard will have to prove his play in preseason games.
In regards to Kennard’s play, Coach Tom Coughlin has been pleased. According to NJ.Com Coughlin stated, “He’s picked things up very well. He’s very smart, very good on the board…He’s done a nice job on the field, a good job on special teams. We’re excited about him. A nice big kid, strong kid.”
Jameel McClain: McClain has played both inside and outside linebacker during his career. The free agent acquisition was slated to start on the outside in place of the departed Keith Rivers. McClain’s leadership ability would be the logical fill-in for Beason as he rehabs during training camp. Playing alongside Ray Lewis, McClain is a born leader who can organize a group and make the defensive calls.
As the Giants wait for Jon Beason to return, the battle for a middle linebacker fill-in should be a good one to watch as Training Camp 2014 approaches.