Spencer Paysinger is not the first name that comes to mind when considering which young linebacker on the New York Giants will make an impact. But Paysinger is trying his best to make sure his name won’t be the last one fans think of either.
The effort being shown by the likes of Paysinger and Mark Herzlich have made the battle for a roster spot at the linebacker position one of the most intriguing positional battles across the NFL.
Over the course of the first three preseason games, Paysinger has recorded 13 tackles and a fumble recovery. While 13 tackles is not a mind blowing number, he played less than half of the defensive snaps in all three preseason games, usually not entering the game until the second half.
It is not difficult to distinguish an impactful linebacker versus one who has a tendency to get washed out of plays on a regular basis. Through three games, the undrafted rookie linebacker out of Oregon has certainly not gotten washed out.
Though the Giants drafted Jacquian Williams and Greg Jones in 2011, that does not mean that undrafted players such as Spencer Paysinger and Mark Herzlich won’t have the opportunity to make an impact.
Impact was a specialty of Paysinger during his college days at Oregon. He played in all 13 games as a freshman in 2007 and was noted for his special teams play. In his first year as a starter at Oregon, Paysinger was the teams second leading tackler and even started the season with double digit tackles in the first three games.
When one glances at any scouting report on Paysinger, the one outstanding aspect to any Giants fan would have to be special teams ability.
Mark Herzlich is another undrafted player who is fighting for a roster position, but his story is a lot better known.
The one time ACC defensive player of the year discovered that he had Ewing-Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, shortly after a sophomore season which catapulted him to the top of draft boards. After fighting back and beating cancer, Herzlich played once again for Boston College, but eventually went undrafted.
Giants fans know the rest of the story, as Herzlich eventually ended up in New York after a three way courtship between Big Blue, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Baltimore Ravens.
In his first two preseason games, Herzlich has a forced fumble and has an interception to go along with a number of impact tackles.
A number of the impact plays made by Paysinger and Herzlich (and even Greg Jones) have come not on defense, but on special teams. The Giants struggled mightily on special teams this preseason, giving up a number of long punt and kick returns. This is why the plays made by these two are so critical when it comes to earning a final roster spot.
With so many players on the bubble at the linebacker spot (Phillip Dillard, Clint Sintim among them), it is critical that players show value as special teams players.
This Thursday night when the Giants take on the New England Patriots, look for these players to play a large portion of the game as they give their last efforts in a battle to make their first NFL roster.