Sometimes Giants fans forget that players had lives and hopes and dreams before they arrived with the team. So when they look at Mark Herzlich they see him as a linebacker entering his third year. Three years. That seems to be a fair amount of time to figure out if a player is made of NFL starting timber.
But for Herzlich, his quest to be the starting middle linebacker this season is not at the end of a three-year plan.
“It’s been 25 years in the making,” Herzlich said. “It’s been my dream my whole life to be a starting linebacker in the NFL and tasting it here and there my first season and second season, gets you really excited for this opportunity. When we come into the sport, all we really want is an opportunity and when we get that opportunity to make the most of it. It’s a lot of learning, a lot of physical play, and that’s what I try to move for and get better every day.”
He’s looked pretty good running with the first team so far in camp. Dan Connor, who the Giants signed this offseason, has been with the twos.
Herzlich almost had his chance to secure the job as a rookie. He started two games but injured his ankle against the Saints. The Giants wound up bringing Chase Blackburn out of the bullpen (off his couch, really) and he led them to a Super Bowl. The following year – last season – Blackburn kept the job mostly because he was a better student of the defense. Herzlich always had more measurables than Blackburn, but it was the immesurables that kept Blackburn on the field.
Herzlich wants to bring a bit of both to the job this year.
“I think they want consistency,” he said. “I know that’s something that Coach Coughlin talks a lot about, is consistency. That’s consistent play mentally, consistent play physically, and leadership role. I know we’ve had great leadership at the linebacker position in the past and we’ve been a little bit inconsistent, so I hope to take over that leadership role and play with the consistency that gives the confidence in the coaches and the players.”