Chase Blackburn proving he still belongs
In his first game back with the Giants, Chase Blackburn intercepted an Aaron Rodgers pass, one of only six non-Packers to catch a pass thrown by the presumptive MVP this season. Afterward, when the Packers had won on a last-second field goal, Rodgers teased Blackburn by saying he didn't recognize him in his new uniform number.
"I think he'll know who 93 is this time," Blackburn said this week.
The saying is he came off his couch, but really Blackburn was working out and staying ready, hoping that a team would require his services this season. Through the first three months of the season, he trained until early December when the Giants called and added him to the roster. They had just lost rookie Mark Herzlich to a sprained ankle and Michael Boley was coming back slowly from a hamstring injury, so they called the player who had been on the team the previous six years and thrust him on the field as a middle linebacker.
He made an immediate impact with that interception and has continued to prove his value. On Sunday against the Falcons, he made a key tackle on Michael Turner, stuffing a third-and-1 run short of a first down. His precision in dropbacks has been a big reason the Giants' secondary has improved. And as he's grown more comfortable this season, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has been able to add more wrinkles to his schemes. They are 4-2 since Blackburn returned, including three straight wins.
So the question is . . .
"I have no idea why he wasn't on the football team all this year," Justin Tuck said, shaking his head.
Neither does Blackburn, who has said he's out to prove the Giants made a mistake by ignoring him for most of their season even though they were hurting at the position the second Jonathan Goff tore his ACL in practice the week before the first game.
"I think I'm heading in the right direction," Blackburn said of making that point. "Every week, I'm getting more comfortable. I can't speak for [the front office], I'm just trying to help this team and continue to go. It's not about me doing whatever. I'm playing with a chip on my shoulder, yes, but I'm not trying to do anything other than make this a better team and help them win."
It was a difficult time after the 2010 season when he was a free agent and through the lockout. Blackburn sold his house in New Jersey and moved his young family back to Dublin, Ohio.
Had the Giants not called, Blackburn would have been Mr. Blackburn, the new permanent substitute math teacher at John Sells Middle School in Ohio who brings in his Super Bowl ring for show and tell. He was scheduled to start there last week, after the holiday break.
Then the Giants called and he was on the next flight back to New York. Before he took off, though, he sent a message to Rich Baird, the principal at the school who had been helping Blackburn get the position. "When I got the call, I texted him and said, 'We're going to have to wait, put it on hold,' " Blackburn recalled. "He said, 'That's better. I'd rather have that.' "
Ultimately, the Giants realized that they'd rather have it that way, too.