The Giants may have a tattered secondary, due to injury, but at least one unit is getting back a healthy body.
Linebacker Jameel McClain returned to practice this week, following a scary stinger that he suffered on Aug. 5. The veteran wasn’t able to practice at all last week, and missed the preseason opener in Cincinnati, so he was anxious to get back to work this week.
“I’m back,” McClain said with a broad smile. “It’s good to be back doing what I love, running around and having fun.”
Running has been a big part of McClain’s two days back, as he’s been seen flying around the ball during drills, and also running sprints on the sidelines any time he’s not on the field.
He noted the recovery time set back his conditioning some, so any time – or anywhere – he can get in a run, he does it.
“Running extra, any time I can, is good. I had a week or whatever off, so I have to make sure I’m getting in that extra work, extra running, in between drills,” said McClain, who set up the extra sessions on his own without prodding from the training staff. “I do gassers between each drill to try and get myself in better shape. I do more after practice, because when the game comes, there isn’t any preparing for that.”
McClain hasn’t been told whether he’ll play Saturday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But as long as he’s on the practice field, he’ll work hard in trying to convince the coaching staff that all’s well, and that this won’t be a recurring injury due to his past neck injury when he played in Baltimore.
He noted that “injuries and [hard] hits are going to happen … it’s football,” and added he’s enjoyed “thumping” teammates in drills. Flying around the ball and slamming into offensive players is what McClain lives for, so it’s no surprise that the intensity of the practices since his return has raised.
Safety Nat Berhe has noticed the renewed physicality of practices, noting the coaches are aware as well.
“It’s a business decision,” Berhe said when asked about a more physical tone being set. “You gotta change momentum or lose a check.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is happy to see McClain return. The coach was rather disappointed in his unit for not showing that same aggression in the preseason game as his defense did during joint practices with the Bengals.
The return of McClain, and the addition of the aggressive hard-hitting safety Brandon Meriweather should certainly help unleash such physicality.
“I saw more of it [physicality] in the practices against Cincinnati, to be honest with you. I’m not really sure what happened in the game, though,” Spagnuolo said. “We’re all trying to put our finger on that, and I think everybody has to look in the mirror first. But that is the goal. I think you can make up for a lot of mistakes if you do that, we all know that … I’m hoping in this next go-around that it will be ‘think fast and just go.’ That’s what the defensive game is all about. You have to rely on relentlessness.”
McClain said he’s all for that philosophy.
“My goal is to hit somebody from the beginning, or at least raise the tempo for my teammates,” McClain said.
The veteran linebacker may not be a starter, but there’s no doubt he’s one of the spiritual and physical leaders on Big Blue.
Big Blue notes:
-Meriweather isa former first-round draft choice and two-time Pro Bowler. To make room on the roster, kicker Chris Boswell was waived. Meriweather, 5-11 and 204 pounds, has played in 99 regular-season games with 68 starts. He was formerly a starter for NFC East rival Washington.
-Meriweather has a history of taking bad penalties, blown coverages, and unnecessary roughness penalties. But Coughlin said he’ll reserve the right to cast judgment, and hopes his newest player’s reputation is left in the past: “The toughness part you want. The penalties and issues you don't want.”
-Safety Mykkele Thompson was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn Achilles tendon on Friday night in the preseason opener in Cincinnati. Since the rookie is not a vested veteran, he will continue to count towards the club’s 90-man roster limit.