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Linval Joseph may get more playing time

Giants rookie Linval Joseph hopes to crack a

Giants rookie Linval Joseph hopes to crack a crowded defensive line rotation this year. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- When Linval Joseph met with the Giants before the draft earlier this season, the first thing he told them was that he would be willing to help the team anyway he could.

“Right now I’m doing that,” the second-round draft pick said.

Only it’s not showing up on the field. Joseph, a 319-pound defensive tackle, has been active in only four games this season and has assisted in just two tackles. On a defensive line that has been as physically sturdy as it has been strong, Joseph has not been able to crack the rotation. The rookie wall for Joseph isn’t about slowing down at the end of his first season, it’s about Chris Canty and Barry Cofield and Rocky Bernard playing well enough to block him from getting onto the field.

But that may be changing for Joseph. While Dave Tollefson’s sprained MCL will have an impact on special teams, he also played several roles along the defensive line. Tollefson may be more of an end than a tackle, but he did play inside often. So when Joseph's name was brought up to Tom Coughlin as a possible way to replace Tollefson, the coach called him “one obvious consideration.”

“I practice every day, every week, like I’m going to play,” Joseph said. “I’m still getting better. Even though I’m not playing in the games, I’m still getting better at practice, I’m getting smarter, and I’m learning my opponents.”

He may get to put that improvement to use down the stretch.

“I don’t know, but I’ll hope for the best,” he said. “We’ll see.”

Tom Coughlin has not had to look far for volunteers to return punts this week. With Will Blackmon ruled out with a knee injury, there are plenty of people hoping to get their chance at the job.

“If he calls my number to get back there and return a punt, you might see me jump for joy,” said Aaron Ross, who has been campaigning for a chance for four years. “It’s something that I feel like the Lord gave me the ability to do, and I just need my number called to do it.”

Other candidates include Darius Reynaud, who held the job earlier this season, and Corey Webster.

Coughlin said Blackmon’s knee should not be a long-term issue and that he should be able to maintain it … Besides Tollefson and Blackmon who are out, the Giants have no players listed as less than probable on their injury report.

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