Calvin Munson sprinted onto the field with all the energy and enthusiasm you would expect from an undrafted rookie about to play his first defensive snap in the NFL. He knew the play, knew the assignment, and was ready to make an impact.
But when he got to the huddle, seething with anticipation, he was confused.
“Everyone else was just standing around,” Munson recalled to Newsday of the experience in Week 1 against the Cowboys. “Then I looked up at the clock and it went three, two, one.”
The first quarter ended. The players Munson and other subs had rushed onto the field to give a breather in the midst of a long Cowboys drive instead received a natural break in the action. By the time the ball was moved to the other end of the field and the second quarter began, Munson was back on the sideline.
It was the football version of Moonlight Graham.
Unlike the baseball player who never got his chance, though, Munson just had to be patient. Not only did he get on the field Monday night for the Week 2 game against the Lions at MetLife Stadium, he started at middle linebacker. B.J. Goodson, who recorded 18 tackles from that spot last week, was inactive with a shin injury that had been bugging him all last week and flared up enough to keep him off the field.
Goodson was a late addition to the injury report, first appearing on Friday.
“If he’s not able to go, the next man has to step up,” Jason Pierre-Paul said on Saturday. “That’s the game of football. B.J. is a good linebacker, but at the end of the day, in this game of football you have to stay healthy and injuries occur.”
Goodson was listed as questionable for the game, but his availability was pretty much sealed by Monday afternoon when the Giants promoted linebacker Curtis Grant from the practice squad to their active roster. Grant never has appeared in an NFL game but has spent time on the practice squads of the Falcons, Titans, Raiders and 49ers since 2015. The Giants waived wide receiver Tavarres King to make room.
Munson had some experience as the starting middle linebacker this summer when Goodson had to leave a training camp practice early with a back injury.
“We do the same plays [with the second and third teams],” Munson said at the time. “The ones, they expect more of you. If you are going to be in that role, they want you to perform well. But at the same time they’re helping me. J.C. [Jonathan Casillas] is helping me with a lot of the calls. I was just trying to go out there and do the best I can and make it like any other play.”
He likely took the same attitude on the field with him on Monday night.