Jameel McClain, Devon Kennard stepping up with Jon Beason injured

Jameel McClain
Jameel McClain, in his first year with the Giants, has stepped up in the absence of Jon Beason.
Credit: Getty Images

The Giants’ mantra of “next man up” will be tested in the coming weeks as they try to move on without injured linebacker Jon Beason.

And while head coach Tom Coughlin has complete faith in Jameel McClain and rookie Devon Kennard, he’d certainly rather have Beason in the lineup.

“Fortunately, we will get Jon back, so we’re blessed to have that,” said McClain. “But what we have now is a chance for a lot of people to step up and step into positions that they normally wouldn’t have been in. That’s always good for a football team — diversity.”

Kennard is naturally new to the ready-or-not way of the NFL, but the fifth-round pick said that’s just the way it is in the pros.

“They gave me the opportunity and I’m taking advantage of it,” said Kennard, who also lines up outside anytime he’s simultaneously on the field with McClain. “I just go out there and do everything I can every day and try to make plays and make an impact and show that I can do things to help the team.”

Beason, who won’t need surgery, suffered a ligament tear and a small fracture to the sesamoid in his right foot during a non-contact organized team activity (OTA) last week, but if there is a silver lining, it’s that it happened so early in the offseason workouts that he may be back by the Sept. 8 opener in Detroit.

But for the time being, even if Beason is blessed with a speedy recovery, someone must play middle linebacker in training camp and the preseason games. Coughlin said he’s confident in either replacement.

“He’s been in there before,” Coughlin said of McClain, who’s mainly been a 3-4 linebacker during his previous six seasons in Baltimore. “He’s playing in there [the middle] right now and he’s played on the outside mostly, but it’s just a simple move.”

McClain had been penciled in as the starting strongside linebacker in the Giants’ 4-3 defense.

“My experience in this league has been about learning different things to try to help out the team,” McClain said. “That’s the player that I am. That’s something that I’m used to, so I don’t think it’s anything that I’ll actually lose. If anything, I’ll learn more of the defense. … Responsibilities always change. With great opportunity comes a lot of responsibility. Getting people lined up, being ‘the man’ in the middle [and] making all the calls, and doing things that I’m normally accustomed to is just something that I will bring to it.”

While starring at the University of Southern California, Kennard played in 51 games with 32 starts — one at rush end, eight at middle linebacker, five at strongside defensive end and 18 at strongside outside linebacker. It’s that versatility that enamored him with management and the coaching staff.

“I’m spending hours and hours in the playbook every day, every night. When I go home I’m studying for hours. And when I get in here, I’m back in the book,” said Kennard. “So, when I get out there [on the practice field] and I get those live reps, it gets easier and it’s slowing down for me. I’m making more and more plays and making more of an impact and that’s all I’m trying to do — play my part and show that I can help the team.”

The Beason loss isn’t just felt in the lineup, however, as he’s a well-respected voice in the locker room and defensive huddle. Perhaps only safety Antrel Rolle is more revered on Big Blue’s defense, which makes Beason’s loss doubly costly.

McClain, who learned at the feet of future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis, said he’s done his fair share of leading by example and voice once Lewis rode off into the sunset.

“That’s my game; that’s my style of play. I believe in picking others up [and] if that’s what becoming a leader is about to people, then I can do that,” said McClain. “Nothing’s gonna change on this defense or on this team, especially in this linebacker unit. Jon is still there [and] everybody still communicates. We’ll all get this defense down pat soon enough. We’re all learning something new or trying to do something different than we were accustomed to doing last year, with the exception of Jon. But other than that, everybody’s locked in and communicating. … We’re all in this together.”

Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.


Woman's body found floating in East River in…

A woman's body was found Tuesday morning floating in the East River near Clason Point in the Bronx. The NYPD responded to the scene shortly…


Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.


Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…


LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…


TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.


Newsflash: Corey Stoll still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…


If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…


Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.


Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.


3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.


Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…


Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.


London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.


Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."


World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.