Of the six linebackers on the Giants' roster going into Sunday's season opener at Washington, four are rookies, including starting middle linebacker Greg Jones, who is replacing out-for-the-season Jonathan Goff. The possibility that Mathias Kiwanuka might have to play some defensive line if defensive end Justin Tuck is sidelined by a neck injury could bring more rookies into the mix.
But veteran weakside linebacker Michael Boley says that's OK. "It wouldn't affect anything," Boley maintained. "Our scheme is what it is regardless of what personnel we have in there. We have our young guys pretty well prepared for this upcoming game. They're ready to roll."
Mark Herzlich, the undrafted free agent from Boston College who overcame cancer to make the NFL, could see more playing time, and Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger also are available. Herzlich knows all three linebacker positions, and the young kids in general have shown they can adapt.
"It's intelligence and athletic ability," Boley said. "We've got a good group of young linebackers. All four did some pretty impressive things in training camp. The fact they learned what we're doing well puts them in a position to be ready."
At the moment, Herzlich is expecting to play on all of the special teams units, and that in itself is a major accomplishment considering what the former All-American has endured to reach this point.
"It's an honor to be playing in the NFL at all," Herzlich said. "That's one thing you lose sight of a little. It's just the history that goes along with being an NFL player. To be part of that is a great feeling and a true honor."