Ryan Connelly was looking at his teammates in the huddle and they were looking back at him and no one was saying anything and the whole thing was awkward. That’s when the rookie middle linebacker who was supposed to be communicating the play realized what was going on in the silence.
That voice of the defensive coordinator coming into his helmet from the sideline?
“I just assumed everyone else could hear him, too,” Connelly said.
They could not. Connelly’s job was to relay the call to everyone else.
“In college on defense we were all hand signals and single-word calls,” he said of his time at Wisconsin when all 11 received the information at the same time. “That was a little bit of an adjustment. I’m definitely used to it now. But at first, it was interesting.”
That was in the spring. These days, Connelly is much more comfortable in his role as the leader of the defense, barking out calls and checks to the second-unit in training camp. He’s also impressed with his athleticism and efficiency.
"He's in the right spot, he's got very good instincts," Pat Shurmur said. "There's not a lot of false movement to his game. You know, there's some really fine, dynamic linebackers that'll take two steps in the wrong direction, and then still have the skill and ability to get to the play. The thing with Ryan, you don't see a lot of false steps, so he maximizes his skill and ability. We'll see as he takes his next step."
That next step will be running the defensive huddle in a game. With some starters. It’ll come this week against the Jets in the preseason opener.
“Just to be able to show that I have an understanding of the defense and I know what’s going on,” Connelly said of his goals in the preseason games. “That’s the biggest thing, showing the older guys, the veterans, that they can trust me.”
Carlock continues to impress
Mention Jake Carlock to Mike Dawson and a smile builds on the face of the outside linebackers coach of the Giants.
“He is a ball of energy,” Dawson said on Saturday of the Babylon High School and LIU Post product who is with the Giants as an undrafted rookie this summer. “He goes a million miles an hour when he practices, you see him flying all over the place. He’s a fun guy to be around and he’s a guy you want to see success from because he works so hard at it.”
The Giants are starting to see that success. This past week Carlock has flashed by batting down two passes in one practice and providing an edge rush with the second-team defense. His plays — and injuries to other outside linebackers — have led to increased opportunities. And it’s all at a position he’s never played before this year.
Carlock is a converted defensive back who the Giants think can contribute as an edge player on the line of scrimmage, even though he is undersized for that job at 6-2 and 238 pounds.
“When you look at him, you stand him next to Kareem (Martin) or Lorenzo (Carter) or someone like that, he’s obviously giving up some size,” Dawson said, comparing him to fellow outside linebackers on the roster. “But he’s a ball of muscle. I don’t know what his body fat percentage is off the top of my head but it’s not much. He’s a rocked up guy who plays physical, flies around and throws his body around. That makes up for some of that size.”
The Giants placed rookie LB Mark McLaurin on injured reserve with a fractured foot and signed DE Terrence Fede to replace him on the roster,