Chase Blackburn spent last training camp (and most of last season for that matter) as one of those guys who scouts refer to as “on the street.” As in, “We signed this guy off the street.” He was unsigned at the start of the season, unsigned through the first three months of the season, and was only brought in and signed by the Giants when Mark Herzlich suffered an ankle injury against the Saints.
This year he enters training camp as the starting middle linebacker.
Blackburn has always been an underdog player, known more as a utility linebacker and a special teamer, so coming into camp as a starting anything is a new role for him. But considering where he was last year, it’s all the more remarkable.
“Positions are always up for camp,” he said yesterday. “That’s what camp is for. There’s a lot of competition, there are a lot of good players in the linebacker group. But yeah, definitely I want to stay in the middle and keep that first team spot. That’s what I’m out here trying to do: compete.”
Last year he was just trying to get back in the league.
“Being at home last year during training camp was kind of nice with my young son,” Blackburn said. “At the same point, it’s like one of the things where you want to get back in. You want to be part of it, the whole way through. That’s how I feel about it, and it’s good to start back and be with the ones, and running with the whole defense, and doing everything together from day one.”
Blackburn was re-signed during the offseason, but the Giants are so deep at the position that there is no guarantee he’ll even make the team. Middle linebacker used to be the most important player on the defense. Now, with the use of sub packages and the speedy outside guys staying on the field for just about every play, middle linebacker can almost be an afterthought.
Blackburn is certainly used to being an afterthought.
“For me, I think in this league, if you don’t have that chip on your shoulder, if you’re not trying to strive to get better every day, someone is going to pass you by and take your spot,” he said. “Then you’re not going to be here very long. So I’m trying to take the same mentality I had as an undrafted free agent, when I came in the first time. It’s just one of the things that, the way I prepared.
” I feel like every year I wasn’t a starter, I was trying to get the starting spot,” Blackburn added. “I was competing for it, like it was always an open competition. I feel like every position is up for grabs … other than Eli’s.”
And Eli don’t play linebacker.