The Giants opened the 2015 season with Uani ‘Unga not only playing his first NFL game but starting at middle linebacker. They seem to have resolved that such a lack of experienced players will not happen against this year.
The linebacker room may be the most experienced one on the team with a long list of inhabitants who all have seen significant NFL playing time as reserves and starters. The only player who doesn’t fall into that category is fourth-round pick B.J. Goodson, who many believe is their middle linebacker of the future.
Most of those veterans, though, are interchangeable pieces who have had solid but not standout careers. Jasper Brinkley saw a lot of time at middle linebacker in the spring after finishing 2015 at that spot. The Giants added Kennan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard as free agents. And they are bringing back Jonathan Casillas, Mark Herzlich and J.T. Thomas, all of whom have started at times in the past for the Giants.
The key to the group, though, is Devon Kennard. He is a third-year player and has the most potential of all the penciled-in starters. When he has been healthy he has flashed like a budding dominant player, but those times of health have been limited. He called 2015 “a season from hell” because of his injuries. This year, he says he is hoping to make a big jump in production and playing time but isn’t putting any extra pressure on himself.
“I don’t think it is any bigger than any other year,” he said. “I look at every year the same. It is a great opportunity for me and I like the role that they are asking me to play and what they are asking me to do. I am excited for what this year is going to entail.”