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New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin on Linebackers: “There is Nothing Concrete There”

May 24th, 2013 at 5:13 PM
By Paul Tierney

'Trophy' photo (c) 2012, Scott Rubin - license: A season ago, the New York Giants ranked 24th in the NFL in run defense, 28th in passing defense and 19th in sack percentage, all of which cumulated in the team missing the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Although there were a variety of legitimate explanations for Big Blue's shortcomings last year, inconsistent play from the middle of the defense made defending elite NFL offenses a near impossibility.

With the departures of Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley, the Giants, in typical Jerry Reese style, neglected to add any bona fide talent at linebacker this offseason, instead electing to re-sign Keith Rivers and bring on Dan Connor and Aaron Curry to complement the young talent already on the roster.

During OTA's, the Giants have started a combination of Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger on the first unit at linebacker. However, head coach Tom Coughlin says it's still too early to assume how the depth chart will look once week one arrives.

"There are plenty of opportunities; everybody has got a great opportunity," Coughlin said. "There is nothing in concrete there. Matter of fact, I speak about that all of the time. I think it is a great opportunity."

On paper, the Giants are not as talented at linebacker as they were a year ago. The team is going to rely heavily upon Jacquian Williams, Paysinger and Herzlich to step up and produce in their third year. Additionally, the Giants are gambling that Rivers and Curry can stay healthy and tap into the sky high potential that each was portrayed as possessing coming out of college.

But none of the aforementioned hopes and wishes of Jerry Reese are at all guaranteed to come true. In fact, Reese gambled that Rivers would emerge as an effective player last season, only to watch him go through the same troubling injuries that have plagued the former first-round draft pick throughout his career. Curry seems to finally have his head on straight, but it's still unknown whether his knee wil hold up for an entire season. Last but not least, Paysinger, Herzlich and Williams have all dealt with health concerns in the past, while also displaying their fair share of immaturity on the field.

When Coughlin states that nothing is set in stone at linebacker, it's because there's no way of knowing how each player is going to develop during OTA's, training camp and throughout the course of the season. There's a lot of uncertainty at linebacker right now, but there's also a lot of potential. The Giants have 107 more days before opening up in Dallas against the Cowboys to decide who best suits the schemes that defensive coordinator Perry Fewell will instill. But either way, the spotlight will be placed directly on the team's most unproven unit throughout the 2013 season.


Tags: Aaron Curry, Chase Blackburn, Dallas, Dan Connor, Football, Jacquian Williams, Jerry Reese, Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, Michael Boley, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Spencer Paysinger, Tom Coughlin

7 Responses to “New York Giants’ Tom Coughlin on Linebackers: “There is Nothing Concrete There””

  1.  andiamo708 says:

    I think it’s safe to say that injuries aside….Rivers and Williams are pretty concrete as the OLBs.

    that could and will change vs various opponents, or different down and distances, but I think those are your two starting OLBs and your two Nickel LBs.

    the fans sometimes make too much of the SAM / WILL thing too…over the course of a 16 game season the responsibilities of both position are pretty similar. though I suspect against running teams or say Washington we will see Kiwi or Moore, or maybe even Curry standing up on the line to help against the run.

  2.  norm says:

    One thing is certainly “concrete” about the linebackers coming to camp this year: all but one or two of them is guaranteed to make the roster, absent the addition of any more bodies at the position.

    As of right now, the Giants have only eight LBs on the 90 man roster. Last year, they carried seven on the 53 man roster. If they (1) choose to carry the same number this year; and (2) do not bring in any more LBs to camp, this what your opening day roster at LB will look like… minus just one name:

    Jacquian Williams
    Dan Connor
    Keith Rivers
    Mark Herzlich
    Aaron Curry
    Spencer Paysinger
    Jake Muasau
    Etienne Sabino

    The apparent absence of competition at LB stands in sharp contrast to the DT position in which eight players are vying for 4-5 spots. Or along the offensive line in which 16 players are fighting to fill nine spots.

    I think this is weird. If the team really believed that things were that unsettled at LB, why go to camp with so few candidates for the job?

    •  andiamo708 says:

      I think you can pencil in 5 for sure: Williams, Rivers, Connor, Paysinger, Herzlich

  3.  andiamo708 says:

    Probably list Kiwi as a LB too so him too

    •  norm says:

      Even if we were to assume that the Giants only carry six LBs this year (a very real possibility considering that they may need an extra roster spot for a third QB) and that Kiwi will be one of the six, that still leaves only the above eight players fighting for five spots.

      Not only is the team apparently selling itself short from a competition standpoint, one wonders whether that will allow for enough healthy bodies to even make it through camp.

      With Williams currently recovering from a PCL injury, his participation in camp remains an open question. You can pretty much make book on Rivers suffering a hangnail sometime on the first day that will keep him sidelined for 6-8 weeks. Connor has never been mistaken for The Iron Horse. And you can always count on a random hammy or two at some point along the way. At any rate, it’s probably safe to say that a scant eight bodies won’t be enough to account for the inevitable attrition in camp.

      The good news, of course, is that it could throw the door wide one for one of the young unknowns to get plenty of reps and make himself known. The bad news is that Aaron Curry could end up the only healthy LB by Week One and be given the starting job by default.

      As I said earlier, going into camp with just eight LBs on the 90 man roster is a very strange decision indeed.

      •  giankees says:

        They may carry 6 and carry moore and kiwi as jokers which makes them carry 5 def ends but both have ability to play lb.and thus making it possible to carry an extra dt and maybe an extra safety

  4.  rlhjr says:

    “There is Nothing Concrete There” Coach “C”, Outside of Taylor, Carson, Banks, Kelly, Van Pelt, Armstead, and perhaps some of Pierce, that is the understatement of the last 29 years. You have to go back to Huff for reference.

    If you don’t value them, don’t draft them early what you end up with is a roster full of who who’s. It has worked twice to the ultimate tip. But that’s it. If not for the D-line and some Eli and a dash of running, those two don’t even happen.

    And if you look in Webster’s, the word Rivers is synonymous with injured.
    Curry is right behind him.

    Better hope these imported defensive linemen along with Hankins turn out to be what the doctor ordered.

    That said, this is the best collection of who who’s the club’s had in a while.
    At least on paper. The phrase “on paper in the NFL is just like the word assume.
    Yep, you got it…………… So lets see what happens. Too early to hang your head and sell them short. They could be Giants!

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