Boley eager to make his Giants debut Sunday

After a preseason of spectating, Michael Boley is After a preseason of spectating, Michael Boley is ready to get back on the field. Photo Credit: Photo by Howard Schnapp

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The unveiling of Michael Boley will take place Sunday. That's the first time Giants fans will be able to see their new linebacker, the player the Giants targeted when the clock struck midnight to start free agency and reeled in with a five-year, $25-million contract.

Out all of training camp while recovering from hip surgery and suspended in Week 1 of the season, Boley finally will get a chance to take the field and play. He's practiced with the team the last two days - with full participation for the first time Thursday - and likely will get the start Sunday against the Cowboys.

Curious? You're not alone.

"We call him the missing rookie," Antonio Pierce said. "We're all excited to see him. None of us have played with him before; we're just now starting to work with him."

Even Boley isn't sure what to expect. "It's hard not to mess up, especially when you've been away from the game for a while," he said. "For me, this is not like just coming back for training camp. I haven't had a chance to get that preseason game experience in. It's really a fresh start. Hopefully, I'll just take things one step at a time and not try to rush anything."

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There couldn't have been a better game for him to take the field than this one. Not only will he be immediately immersed in the Giants-Cowboys rivalry, but he'll be a big help against their personnel.

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Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said he considers the Cowboys' two-tight end set with Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett to be their "number one grouping." Having Boley and his athleticism on the field will help counter that situation.

"We're counting on it," Sheridan said. "As much as anything, our motivation for acquiring him in the offseason was because he's an athletic kid in space and can really cover."

That helps the entire defense, and not only because Boley can shut down those pass plays to the tight ends. It also allows the Giants to not switch to a nickel on first or second downs when the Cowboys load up with those tight ends, a formation as close to having three wides as you can get without actually having three wides. Just because they have that passing personnel on the field doesn't necessarily mean it'll be a pass.

"It's always good to keep linebackers on the field," Pierce said. "It sucks when I'm the only linebacker out there sometimes and they decide to run the ball. When you have another body out there who knows how to play the run . . . To keep the extra linebacker always makes me happy."

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As for his hip, Boley said it feels fine and that he hasn't lost any of the speed and agility he was brought here to show off. Pierce said Boley looks fresh. "Oh, man, that boy is running now," Pierce said. "He's looking good."

Even Tom Coughlin has been impressed by Boley's performance, even if it is just two practices' worth so far.

"He has done everything that we've asked him to do and then some, to be honest with you," Coughlin said.

Boley doesn't want to do the "and then some" part Sunday. He said his goal is to execute his assignments and not try to do too much. There is bound to be some rust that will have to be cleaned up, and Boley himself tried to curtail enthusiasm and expectations a bit.

When asked about fans who have been waiting since February for him to be on the field, Boley had some advice.

"Tell them to keep watching; it's a long season," he said. "This one game won't be the tell-all of how my season is going to go or how my Giants career is going to go. Everybody has to watch and see."

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At least, for the first time since he became a Giant, we'll be able to do just that.

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