On Friday, the New York Football Giants added to their linebacker corps by re-signing Keith Rivers. While many are questioning this signing because of on-the-field health issues, Rivers is stepping into 2013 with a positive mindset to be what he feels he’s capable of.
“Anytime you step on the field you have something to prove – me, more so,” Rivers said. “Obviously, I have to prove I can stay healthy. I haven’t necessarily been able to be trusted to stay healthy. Hopefully, taking a big rest this offseason will help me do that.”
Rivers was on and off the injury list in 2012 for the Giants due to a nagging hamstring injury. The Giants were hopeful in their acquisition via trade (with the Cincinnati Bengals) for the speedy linebacker, but never gave up on him. He missed 5 games of 16 last season and is being given another chance and he realizes it – citing that his history of injuries have some not “trusting him to remain healthy.”
“It was tough,” Rivers said of his 2012 season. “I was rushing to get back and not necessarily letting it [hamstring] heal all the way. Sometimes the chips fall that way. I think I may have over-trained due to being out [for entire 2011 season with wrist injury]. I was a little overzealous. I worked out way too hard. It’s very frustrating and very stressful. You work really hard to stay healthy and that doesn’t actually happen. It’s part of the deal. You have to accept the good with the bad.”
Last season, Rivers finished with 37 tackles (32 solo) and a fumble recovery. He moved from weak side as well as strong side in 2012, so he’s open to however the defensive coaching staff fits him in. He feels the scheme is great and it plays to the strengths of the players. He appears to enter the 2013 season with higher hopes. Currently, he’s the one linebacker on the Big Blue roster with the most experience, so he hopes to become a leader in the locker room, no matter which position he plays from.
“I was thinking about that – I’m actually going to be the old,” said the 26-year-old Rivers (who turns 27 in May). “It’s good. I can assume some kind of leadership role and hopefully do that in a good way.”
As health has proven to be an issue for both former USC teammates, Rivers is excited, too, to be back on the turf with his friend, defensive back Terrell Thomas. His statements kind of gleam a bit of what the Giants were seemingly lacking last year: accountability.
“Hopefully, my guy can stay healthy and I’ll get an opportunity to play with him,” said Rivers. “When I was getting ready to sign here, I talked to Terrell. We said, ‘Let’s really hit our playbooks together and be accountable to each other, to do that and get together once a day.’ I’m excited to finally play with him again.”
This trend of players coming back to blue and being excited to play for this great organization as well as together is something that needs to continue and be part of the team hunger for 2013. “Team First…”
CB Aaron Ross’ comments (in between him cheesing a huge smile) are of the same homecoming, prideful nature.
“It’s great to be back,” said Ross. “Words can’t explain. I’m very excited to be back here. From the very start, I talked to Mr. (Jerry) Reese when I signed with the Jags. I told him I had a three-year contract and as soon as it’s over, I’ll be ready to come back home. That three-year contract ended a little earlier than I thought, and he made the call and I was more than excited to come back here. It’s home. I was here for five years, this is where my career started, two Super Bowl rings. All my brothers are here, all the coaches are here. It just felt like home. I was ready to come back home.”
Even new Giant defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins seems to have felt that love after one day. The Giants were the first team he visited (of five) after the Philadelphia Eagles released him.
“I’m excited,” said Jenkins. “It’s been a tough two weeks, going through so many different things mentally, with my family and traveling so much – trying to figure out which was the best scenario. I’m glad that it’s over and especially with the Giants. This was my first visit and I had a good feeling here, especially talking with the coaches. Everybody was straight up, straight forward with me. I had a good gut feeling about New York.”
Photo Credit: Mike Gannon
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