Sometimes it seems like number 52 on the Giants has changed his first name from Jon to "If."

That little two-letter conjunction on uncertainty has been appearing a lot next to his last name. As in: If Beason stays healthy . . . ; If Beason returns to form . . . ; If Beason can still play . . .

"That's the best kind of pressure," Beason said on Wednesday before taking part in a Giants training camp practice. "You know it's an opportunity to do something great when people put a lot on you. Obviously, I think I can do a lot. I think, when [I'm] healthy, I think we're a better team, a better defense. The pressure of that, it pushes me. It drives me to do more."

So far there hasn't been a lot of iffy-ness in Beason's training camp. He's participated every day, hasn't missed a rep with the first unit, and seems to be healed after losing most of his 2014 season to toe and foot injuries. He said he feels better at this point than he has in "several years," going back to his days in Carolina when he started every game for four straight years before injuries began to sideline him at a fairly regular clip.

He even looks at that as a positive.

"The years that I was on IR, I don't have those years of pounding throughout the season," the 30-year-old middle linebacker said. "I should be fresher and be considered younger than I really am."

There is no underplaying how important Beason is to the Giants defense this year. If Beason -- and there's that new name again! -- can play at a level he did when he first arrived via trade midway through the forlorn 2013 season, it should boost the entire unit and help a defense that is looking to not just be dragged along by the Giants' high-powered offense.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Beason's health, though, is always a factor and it may be more of one after Wednesday. Jameel McClain, Beason's backup at middle linebacker, left practice with a scary neck stinger that required him to remain prone on the ground for several minutes of intense medical evaluation. McClain eventually was able to walk off the field, but he had a neck issue when he was a Raven and the Giants certainly are aware of how serious those situations can be, having lost David Wilson to one a year ago.

McClain was supposed to be insurance in case Beason couldn't play. Now that could be reversed.

"Obviously if McClain is held out for any length of time, then that would affect the rotation," Tom Coughlin said of the middle linebackers, adding that Beason's reps so far this summer have been controlled by the number of players in that rotation.

That probably wouldn't upset Beason to be playing more. On Wednesday, before the team's first full-padded practice, he complained about the CBA's restrictions on two-a-days and the use of full pads.

"Football is tough," he said. "It's combative and we like it that way. I would prefer the old way to the new way if I had my choice. You weed a lot of guys out. You know who is really down for the cause."

Giants videos

This year Beason seems to be. He still is aware of his foot, but it does not affect him on the field.

"I never feel it," he said. "When I get out there and play, I try to completely put it out and not think about the fact that I might have orthotics in or I have a plate in my shoe. Just play ball, and I feel fine, I feel natural and my feet, [they're] keeping up and it's coming along."

If Beason can keep on that path . . . well, you know the rest.