It’s called an “opportunity period” in practice, a chance for younger players who don’t get many reps to show what they can do.
The Giants had one on Sunday, led by rookie quarterback Davis Webb (who doesn’t get many reps during regular practice drills as the fourth-stringer). And just to remind the youngsters what was at stake, the period did not have a number like the others throughout practice. It was designated instead by dollar signs.
“The more you can do in this business, the longer you have a chance to stick,” Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said.
And the more you can earn.
Perhaps no one gives a greater illustration of that than Mark Herzlich, the 30-year-old veteran going into his seventh NFL season. He was there in the drills with the newcomers and depth-chart fillers while the other more established players were busy working on other skills. Instead of playing his traditional linebacker spot, though, Herzlich was lining up at tight end.
He even caught a pass on the final play of the drills.
“He’s a pro,” McAdoo said of Herzlich. “I’ve been around a guy like him, a guy like Spencer Havner in Green Bay when I was there. He played on both sides in multiple positions on both sides. So those guys, guys like Mark, are truly unique and special that they can flip the jersey and flip the switch and go to the other side of the ball and be a contributor there.”
Herzlich did in fact switch his jersey. This offseason he ditched his number 94 and slipped into 44, a number that makes him an eligible receiver or member of the backfield (he can play tight end or fullback on offense). When he practices, he wears a blue jersey like the rest of the defensive players, but when he lines up on the other side of the ball he pulls the blue shirt over his helmet and reveals a white one for offensive players that he has been wearing underneath the whole time.
Herzlich was intrigued when asked about the possibility of a reversible jersey instead of wearing one on top of the other. For now, though, layers are a good thing to have in the football business.
“He made a couple nice plays for us,” McAdoo said.
The opportunity period, it turns out, isn’t just for the rookies.