So who steps in?
The Giants are working out Kawika Mitchell today, but for Sunday it appears they’ll go with rookie Greg Jones at middle linebacker. Tom Coughlin wouldn;t commit to that in his press conference, but the way he was talking made it sound as if Jones will be the first rookie to start on opening day since Chris Snee in 2004 (assuming we don’t include Matt Dodge as the starting punter last year, which we don’t).
UPDATE: Forgot about Barry Cofield, who started every game as a rookie in 2006! And then I was told that TE Mike Matthews started the opener in 2007. Oh well.
“We can play a game the way we are, the way our breakdown goes right now,” Coughlin said, a strong hint that Jones would be playing in Goff’s spot and Mark Herzlich would be backing him up in the middle. How that would affect the sub packages remains to be seen. It’s also unclear if Jones – or whoever plays middle linebacker – would be responsible for the checks and calls. That job could fall to Michael Boley.
“All these things have to be taken into consideration,” Coughlin said. “We’ll force-feed it, obviously, and then we’ll make some decisions on what we can play without, what possible errors could be made in some situations that we don’t want to have to put ourselves through. We’ll make those decisions.”
As for Jones, Coughlin made it sound as if he is ready.
“He’s been here all preseason,” he said. “He is a good football player or he wouldn’t be here. He’s had a good preseason. Sometimes,” he added with a smile, “it’s time to step it up.”
The knock on Jones, and one of the main reasons he was available when the Giants picked him in the sixth round, was his lack of size. He’s listed at 6-foot and 248 pounds.
“He’s got that force, that inertia,” Coughlin said. “He’s always been an outstanding tackler, a physical player and I think you can see that.”
But he’s still a rookie. And with that comes some headaches.
“You get it on the fly, you have to gain under fire,” Coughlin said. “Obviously there will be mistakes made but they’ll be aggressive ones. That’s the thing that I think you look forward to is that part of it, plus the improvement. You expect a young guy put into that situation to learn from errors and improve.”