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Lots of connections between middle linebackers on Giants, Panthers

Mark Herzlich lines up during the first quarter

Mark Herzlich lines up during the first quarter of a football game between the Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. (Nov. 20, 2011) Credit: AP

It’ll be a middle linebacker reunion in Carolina this weekend when Mark Herzlich gets to see the player he mentored in college and the player who mentored him in the NFL.

Herzlich was a few years ahead of Panthers emerging star Luke Kuechly when they were teammates at Boston College and they remain close friends. Kuechly’s backup in Carolina is Chase Blackburn, the player Herzlich played behind with the Giants for a year and a half.

“Chase and Luke, two of my really good friends,” Herzlich said.

So have they spoken recently?

“Nope,” he said. “They’re enemies this week.”

Herzlich said he doesn’t know if Kuechley and Blackburn have hit it off as teammates, but he suspects they might have.

“Hopefully they’re hanging out down there, too, because they could be good friends,” Herzlich said. “They’re very similar people. They’re both really, really nice guys, both very intelligent. They put family first. Good morals. Just guys that I would like to hang out with.”

On Sunday he’ll get the chance. But not until after the game.

Oh, and if Dan Connor were still an active Giants player (he’s on IR after a second burner in his neck), he could be an additional link to the middle linebacker chain between the Giants and Panthers. Connor played for four years in Carolina but was a free agent and replaced by Kuechley last year. This offseason he came to the Giants to replace Blackburn and wound up winning the starting job over Herzlich.


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