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Mark Herzlich savors time with Giants starting defense

Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich during Giants training

Greg Jones and Mark Herzlich during Giants training camp in Albany, N.Y. (July 29, 2012) Credit: Hans Pennink

ALBANY -- Chase Blackburn knows all about a "veteran day" off, which is when an established player sits out a training camp practice with a minor injury that a younger player would probably work through. He used to love them because they gave him an opportunity to play with the starters.

On Saturday, though, he took another perspective on them. Blackburn, now part of the establishment, sat out with a minor thigh bruise. That left Mark Herzlich, who has been breathing down his neck for the starting job at middle linebacker, to take snaps with the first unit.

"I'm sure Mark was licking his chops, too," Blackburn said of his competition in what has become the most fascinating battle of training camp.

In fact, he was.

"It's cool getting a feel playing with JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul], playing with [Justin] Tuck, playing with Linval [Joseph]," Herzlich said. "Those guys up front and getting the communication in the back end because it's a little different with every guy. To be able to get a feel for that, I think it's good practice for hopefully in the games."

Blackburn knows that feeling well, which might be why when the team practiced Monday, he was right back on the field. With the ones.


A sad day

Tom Coughlin opened his media session by offering "condolences and deepest sympathy" to Andy Reid and his wife, Tammy. The Reids' son, Garrett, was found dead Sunday morning at the Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Coughlin also announced that defensive assistant coach Al Holcomb lost his mother Sunday.

"It was kind of a sad day for us," Coughlin said.


Giant steps

Starting LT Will Beatty (back) missed a third straight practice despite promising medical reports. "He does have some sciatic nerve issues and they're trying to eliminate that," Coughlin said. "If they do eliminate that, they think the guy can go, and if he goes, they don't think he'll have any repercussions. At this point in time, they're being very, very cautious. They're trying to get that completely out of the equation" . . . LB Michael Boley returned to practice for the first time since July 28. He'd been sidelined by a hamstring injury . . . CB Prince Amukamara missed practice with what Coughlin called "a little bit of a hamstring" issue . . . DE Justin Trattou (ankle) was taken out of a walking boot but said he would not practice until he is cleared by doctors later this week.

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