Devon Kennard is thick, can hit and run -- and may start for Giants

Giants linebacker Devon Kennard answers questions from the

Giants linebacker Devon Kennard answers questions from the media in the locker room after workouts, Tuesday, June 17, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (Credit: AP / Julie Jacobson)

Coaches are usually reluctant to compare young players to established ones because it can set lofty and unattainable goals. But Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann picked out a doozie when he wanted to make a point about the possibility of rookie Devon Kennard starting for the team.

"Pittsburgh, I think, started Jack Lambert right away," Herrmann said on Wednesday. "He turned out pretty good. So if he can handle it, and get everyone lined up and understand the nuances and where he belongs, he's a pretty thick kid, he can hit people, so that's good."

It's easy to see some of the things the Giants like about Kennard. He is big (6-3, 251) and fast and hits hard. He has stood out on the field through two training camp practices while running with the first team.

"He's a man," Herrmann said. "He has a thick dude body."

But the part that really has the Giants drooling is that part that doesn't flash on the field but in the meeting rooms. Kennard is catching onto the defense quickly, and the Giants seem to think that he would not have a problem stepping into that immediate starting role. He might even be groomed as the middle linebacker in case Jon Beason's recovery from a foot injury is slowed or Jameel McClain's foot injury continues to be an issue.

"I want to continue to show, one, that I can pick it up because the first thing is I have to be able to make the right call, close in correctly and make the calls and all of the adjustments," Kennard said. "I don't think I've done anything yet. This is just day two of camp. I did OK during OTAs and minicamp but I'm continually trying to show them what I can do and bring to the table."

The Giants drafted Kennard in the fifth round, but Herrmann said that's a misrepresentation.

"He played at USC and he played under four different coordinators, and played four different positions, so I think he kind of got lost in the college shuffle a little bit there," Herrmann said. "Again, we've got to go out and see him in live games, but based on what you see of him on film, he's not going to shy away from [the physical] part of the game. He's not going to shy away from the game, he's calm, cool, and collected. It's the speed of the game, and we'll see how he plays. But based on what we do out here, I don't think he's going to have a problem."

Jack Lambert didn't.

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