How did Devon Kennard describe his second year in the NFL?
“This was a season from hell for me,” said the linebacker who missed two games with a calf injury and then the final five games with a foot injury. “I wish I had been able to do more, help the team more, and not being able to just kills me.”
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Kennard certainly was expected to have more of an impact on the field. And at first he did. He had 23 tackles in his first four games, including the Week 4 contest in Buffalo when he had two pass breakups and his first career interception. But while that probably was his best game of the season, it also was the one in which he limped off with the calf injury.
He was never the same dynamic player again. Well, he did have a season-high 10 tackles against Washington, but again, he left that game with an injury.
“I learned a lot this year,” Kennard said. “I learned I have to be prepared to where I’m not going to feel great all the time. That’s something I have to make sure I’m ready for going into next year. Being able to withstand some injuries and get through different things. The foot thing I couldn’t control, but before that just being ready to excel even when I don’t feel great.”
The “foot thing” is what eventually landed him on injured reserve once the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention. Kennard said he will not need surgery on the foot, that it will heal by itself over time and be 100 percent. But for a player who has appeared in just 21 of a possible 32 games in two seasons because of injuries, it’s certainly worth watching. As are all of his ailments. He’s bordering on the “injury prone” label, and he knows it.
“I know how to prepare for that now, I know what to do,” he said of dealing with soft-tissue matters. “It was a learning experience for me. I was kind of learning by trial and error this year. I’m going to adjust the way I train and adjust the way I do things to make sure I can be reliable for my team.”
Kennard will be counted on in 2016. If there is a change at defensive coordinator for the Giants, it will be the third such one in Kennard’s three seasons with the team. That’s been the story of Kennard’s football life. Since his time at USC, he has gone from one season to the next with either a new coach, new system or new position.
He’s done well in and under all of them, including his tenure with the Giants in which he has become a promising player. Injuries have prevented him from fulfilling that promise entirely, and he understands that. So going into Year Three in the NFL, he’ll be ready.
“I have something to prove,” he said, “and I’m definitely going into this offseason with that mindset.”