The Giants’ secondary has been the most injury-depleted unit on the defense, but with recent maladies, the linebacker corps isn’t far from matching that dearth.
Defensive captain Jon Beason leads a list of banged-up linebackers, which is troublesome of itself, but coupled with the depleted secondary and the absence of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, it could prove to be a big headache. While Beason may not be the defense’s best player, he’s certainly the heart and soul. And sans Beason, Big Blue isn’t as staunch against the run, and have been gashed some in the preseason – which doesn’t bode well for the team if he’s not able to return by the opener, when the Giants head to Dallas and face arguably the league’s best offensive line.
Beason was seen running short sprints, and working on back-peddling drills with the trainer to test his gimpy knee during Tuesday’s session. That’s actually progress since he endured a full workload the previous day. Any small step gives Beason and the team optimism that he could get enough practices under his belt in hopes of playing against the Cowboys.
“He feels better. He’s got a [rehab] routine now, and they’re getting a little bit more aggressive each day with it,” said Coughlin, adding all he has is hope, and no guarantees. “He [Beason] is optimistic, I’ll put it that way. Whatever they [training staff] tell me, I’m the eternal optimist.”
Beason sounded slightly more optimistic, although he noted it’s been a tough summer for him.
“The most frustrating thing is trying to get my feet back under me. I feel comfortable in the new scheme and I already know how to prepare. It’s just working through it, hoping to get enough [practice] reps before Dallas,” Beason said. “I still believe I can get back before that. I’ll do everything I can humanly possible to make sure that happens.”
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Beason isn’t the only linebacker working his way back into the mix. Mark Herzlich (concussion) and Jonathan Casillas (neck) both were on the field participating in consecutive days of practice for the first time in over a week. They may not be stars, but they’re regular rotation guys who also play special teams. It’s a good thing they’re back in the fold, since they’ve already lost one linebacker to cuts – veteran and former Cowboy Victor Butler – and may likely lose a couple more when the roster gets trimmed from 90 players to 75. Butler was cut after the Giants signed safety Stevie Brown, but was due to be suspended for the first four games of the NFL season anyway. It’s not a huge loss, but it already thins out a linebacker corps that was already dealing with the numbers game.
J.T. Thomas III sees the thinning numbers as a way to tighten the unit and make sure guys are giving their all, because there’s no guarantee any of the remaining linebackers will be on the opening day 53-man active roster.
“I say you just let things go, trust what you’re doing, trust your teammates, and just do your job,” said Thomas. “As a linebacker, you just gotta play fast – always play faster. Whoever is here just needs to take it upon themselves to play hard and fast, and continue to gel. … Make more explosive plays to get seen, and take it from there.”
It’s been difficult for some more than others to be seen, due to the lack of numbers. Head coach Tom Coughlin said some individual performances have been good, but the injuries have been the biggest takeaway so far.
“It’s tough to get the continuity sometimes when there’s a lot of change and guys in and out and missing time. No question that when you’re constantly changing parts that things are not quite as smooth,” Coughlin said. “But you just keep building … [regardless of] the shuffling around. And whether it’s a guy missing a practice or two, or a week and then comes back, there is no question that you’d like to see the carry over into full-speed action. It’s a worry.”
Automatics: Jon Beason, Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas III, Jameel McClain, Mark Herzlich, Jonathan Casillas.
On the bubble: Ashlee Palmer, Uani’ Unga.
The others: Cole Farrand.
Big Blue notes:
- Coughlin noted that the starters will play “very little” against the Patriots, Thursday night. He added that wideout Victor Cruz won’t play.