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Kareem Martin will help Giants learn new defense

Cardinals linebacker Kareem Martin on Dec. 24, 2017.

Cardinals linebacker Kareem Martin on Dec. 24, 2017. Credit: AP / Ross D. Franklin

Kareem Martin said he thinks outside linebacker is the most important position in the Giants’ new defensive scheme. For a while, he may be the most important player in it, too.

Not because that’s where he will line up, but because it’s where he has lined up.

Martin, who signed a three-year deal with the Giants as a free agent on Thursday night, spent the last three seasons playing for the Cardinals under defensive coordinator James Bettcher. With Bettcher bringing his system to the Giants, Martin will be the only player in the building who has tactile knowledge and a full understanding of it. He was signed to play linebacker, but for a while, he also will have to be the team’s main translator as the Giants learn Bettcher-ese.

“That’s something I expected when they gave me a call,” Martin said. “I thought I’d be looked upon as a guy who’d be asked those type of questions about the defense after being in it the last few years. Even talking with the coaches at dinner, they were telling me that they knew I was comfortable in the defense and if I can find any way to help those guys learn it, the different techniques, I think I’ll be a big help helping a lot of the guys understand the defense along with the coaches.”

It’s one of the big reasons he’s here.

“Obviously, the familiarity with the system will be huge for him,” general manager Dave Gettleman said. “Kareem can share information. He’ll be playing with OV [Olivier Vernon] and JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] and obviously, his familiarity and comfortability with the system will help him share knowledge and share the tips and things that he has learned.”

Martin said he has not heard from any new teammates who want to pick his brain, but he expects that to happen soon. Everyone wants to know what Bettcher has in store for the Giants as they not only switch coordinators but change base schemes from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

“It’s a relentless defense,” Martin said. “We’re a heavy blitz team and I think that’s what the guys are going to be really excited about, especially guys up front. It’s a one-gap defense so the guys up front — outside linebackers and d-line — we’re expected to go straight, hit the gap and cause disruption.

“With the talent and scheme,” he added, “we can easily be a top defense in the NFL.”

Notes & quotes: The Giants officially signed free-agent guard Patrick Omameh and defensive back Curtis Riley on Friday. Omameh, who started for the Jaguars last season, figures to have the same role with the Giants this season. Riley was a versatile backup for the Titans last season . . . Add Martin to the list of those who would like to see safety Tyrann Mathieu join the Giants. “That would be amazing,” Martin said of his former Cardinals teammate, now a free agent. “He’s such a great player and he thrived in this defense the last few years. He’s a playmaker, and with him and coach Bettcher, Bettcher knows how to put him in the right spots to make him successful.” Martin said he has not spoken to Mathieu about his options or contract requirements, “but I would love to have him come back here and play with me.”

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