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Rookie linebacker Calvin Munson makes most of first start

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Calvin

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Calvin Munson tackle Lions running back Ameer Abdullah on Sept. 18, 2017. Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun

Calvin Munson had no idea he would be making his first NFL start until Sunday. That’s when starter B.J. Goodson was unable to participate in the Giants’ practice because of a shin injury, and all of a sudden Munson was out there with the first team as the only healthy middle linebacker on the active roster.

Not only did Munson start Monday night against the Lions, but he played every defensive snap, plus 10 special-teams snaps. It was a very busy night for the undrafted rookie out of San Diego State who in Week 1 didn’t even get on the field with the defense.

“Going from last week not having any to this week having all of the defensive snaps, it was just a blessing to play with this team and for this team,” Munson said. “I have a lot of things to work on, but it was a blessing to play with those guys.”

Munson was the first undrafted rookie to start at linebacker for the Giants since Mark Herzlich did it twice in 2011. He made seven tackles, second most on the team, and a sack.

“I’m very proud of him,” cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie said. “Making checks, running around, hitting. You almost forget that he’s still a rookie. He went out there and played.”

Munson said although he handled the initial calls in the huddle, he relied mostly on the veterans around him to make the pre-snap adjustments. “It’s a group effort when it comes to that,” he said. “I set the defense and then they make the individual calls and tie it together.”

There’s no saying when Munson will get another chance to play. If Goodson is healthy this week, he’ll likely start against the Eagles and Munson will go back to playing on special teams. For one game, though, Munson said he took a moment to appreciate his rapid climb from undrafted rookie to starter.

“I think I did all right,” he said. “I had a lot of help from the older guys and all the other guys. I definitely made some mistakes. I should have come downhill on a few and read a few plays better. I feel like I could have played better.”

There’s no way he could have played more.

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