New York Giants middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley (53) and cornerback...

New York Giants middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley (53) and cornerback Eli Apple (28) shake hands during training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Saturday, July 30, 2016. New York Giants Training Camp. Credit: Steven Ryan

Jasper Brinkley always wore number 54. It’s so much a part of him that it remains imprinted on his mouthpiece.

But when he came to the Giants at the end of last year’s preseason, that number already was taken by Jonathan Casillas. Brinkley had to change his identity. And he did it by switching to a number that carries a lot of history with the Giants.

“I know who has worn this number,” he said of the 53 he now sports, a number that always will be associated with Hall of Famer Harry Carson. “I see Harry around the building every now and then and I make sure I go over and speak with him.”

Brinkley said the first thing he did when he arrived with the Giants and received his new number was research who wore it in the past.

“Once I saw that he wore it, I knew that just wearing his number puts a lot on me,” Brinkley said. “There’s a lot on my shoulders that I have to carry with me on the field. This is a well-respected number around the Giants organization, so when I go out on the field I’m trying to leave it all out on the field.”

Brinkley said he and Carson haven’t had many in-depth football talks, just some “side conversations.”

“But there’s a lot of respect for him, and he knows it,” Brinkley said. “I respect everything he’s done for the organization and who he is as a man and as a person.”

Interestingly, Casillas no longer wears the 54 that Brinkley wanted at first. He’s switched to 52. The new 54? Defensive end Olivier Vernon.

That’s OK, Brinkley said. He’s got a new number now.

“It turned out great for me,” he said.” I don’t think I’m going to give it up.”

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