Giants cornerback Julian Love drops back into coverage against the...

Giants cornerback Julian Love drops back into coverage against the offense during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. Credit: Brad Penner

Julian Love always has been a bit of a nomad when it comes to football.

“I’ve bounced around positions my whole life in the defensive backfield,” said the second-year Giant, who has played cornerback, safety and even a little linebacker throughout his playing career. “It’s no different now.”

Actually, there is a difference now. But it may be for the better.

Because Love finds himself on the 2020 Giants, a team that isn’t interested in having a defensive scheme and trying to figure out a way for him to fit into it. Rather, this coaching staff has a philosophy that they will take the versatile players – such as Love – and build the system around them.

“We can’t just go ahead and put pegs into holes thinking everything is going to fit one size fits all,” head coach Joe Judge said. “We need to make sure we call the game according to who’s in the game. That’s a very big part of what we’re going to do.”

And it is why Love may finally have a home, even if he still doesn’t exactly have a position.

“He’s a guy who’s really just felt more comfortable within our system and scheme,” Judge said.

Now, with second-round pick Xavier McKinney sidelined with a fractured foot, a lot more will be falling to Love in the secondary.

“The fact that he’s played multiple positions, whether he’s been a corner, whatever he’s played, that’s a positive because it gives us an opportunity to use his skillsets,” defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. “Whether it’s covering a receiver from coming down, or covering a receiver and he’s down there, covering a back from depth or lining up to cover a back, he can use his skillset to handle that. Because he understands the bigger picture, because he’s played in multiple spots, it makes it even more interchangeable.”

Love said it is a “special thing” having his skillset match up almost perfectly with a playbook that sends him all around the field, sometimes in the face of a receiver in man coverage, other times floating deep in the defense. Rather than being the vagabond outlier to the scheme, Love and others like him ARE the scheme.

“You really need flexibility with your personnel in the secondary to be able to do different schemes,” Judge said. “Those guys have given us a lot of flexibility we’ve been able to use… They all play off each other with what they’re doing. There’s no one key.”

Love was a fourth-round pick who barely played at all through the first half of his first season with the Giants. They just couldn’t seem to find a place for him to get on the field. At least not until Peppers landed on injured reserve and Love had to step in.

That meant some missed opportunities to develop.

Now, another major injury to the safety group will add more to his plate.

“He’s getting more comfortable back there, he’s been more vocal,” Judge said. “That’s important in his role, being the signal-caller in the deep part of the field. He has the athletic ability that we’re going to play him in a different variety of spots based on the matchups… I’m not really concerned about where he was last year. I’m concerned with where he’s going to be in a couple of days, next week, a month from now, and I see him moving on the right track in that direction.”

That experience at the end of 2019, Love said, was “crucial” to him as he heads into 2020.

“I just tried to stay ready whenever my time was going to come,” he said. “Obviously, it came in Chicago [with his first start and first interception on Nov. 24]. I just tried to step up to the plate for our team to help us succeed, help guys grow and move forward. I think my whole mindset was to stay ready, and it always is. Stay ready, stay aware, and be ready to go.”

Just like a nomad.

Except now he’s on a team that is full of them.

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