Is Jasper Brinkley the new Jon Beason?
He's done it before -- not stepping in for Beason, but playing in place of E.J. Henderson for the 2009 Vikings. Brinkley, then a rookie, started the final four games of that regular season and helped take the Vikings all the way to the NFC Championship Game.
"It puts me in the mind of when I first had the opportunity to play in Minnesota, the same thing happened," Brinkley said on Sunday after the Giants' 32-18 win over the Bucs. "I didn't flinch [then] . . . I'm ready to do whatever it takes to help this team win."
The Giants certainly will need him. Brinkley, who hadn't played significant defensive snaps until last week, seems to be the new quarterback of the defense.
Beason was placed on injured reserve on Saturday with a knee/ankle injury and Uani 'Unga was inactive with a neck injury on Sunday. That left the linebacker group in shambles -- J.T. Thomas also was out with an ankle injury -- and Brinkley as the only experienced player at the middle linebacker position.
He filled it well, leading the team with seven tackles, forcing a fumble and recovering one.
"He is a good football player," Tom Coughlin said of the veteran the Giants signed at the start of the regular season after he was cut by the Cowboys without having played a regular-season snap for them. "We needed him to step up and play tonight and he did . . . He made some big plays."
The Giants will play the rest of the season without Beason, who will have played five or fewer games for the fifth time in the last six years because of injuries and likely has played his final snaps for the Giants, if not in the NFL.
The Giants had 'Unga play when Beason was injured earlier this year, and he performed well but showed some gaps in experience as an undrafted first-year player. Brinkley gives the Giants a veteran presence at the spot, someone who can control the huddle and make the checks quickly.
He actually made his first start for the Giants last week but was rotated in and out with 'Unga and did not make any standout plays. That experience, he said, was helpful in getting him used to playing again after a long layoff. After all, he hadn't done much since the preseason.
"You definitely have to get your sea legs back under you," Brinkley said.
"He played a lot last week," Coughlin said, "and I think he benefited from that."
So did the Giants.