New York Giants’ GM Jerry Reese and Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell have mentioned that the likely starters at middle linebacker is Chase Blackburn.
Blackburn did not play most of the 2011 season for the Giants when he was not called back during training camp. When injuries limited the middle linebackers, Blackburn was brought back to save the day.
Forgotten fact: It was Mark Herzlich‘s injury that prompted the Giants to call Blackburn.
It was reported on Giants.com that Herzlich has been at the Timex Center in the Meadowlands for four days a week on his own and plans to keep up this training until the Giants report to camp. This is the point in summer when players spend the time off with their families before beginning the season, but Herzlich is on a mission.
Fewell said that Blackburn is the guy at middle linebacker, and Herzlich is looking to change that:
“I definitely think I can – that’s my goal,” Herzlich said. “That’s why I’m here every day working, to try to get that job. It’s all a competition. I think the good thing about the Giants is they want to win and I think whoever gives them the opportunity to win will be able to start at that position. For me right now, it is just learning the plays and knowing them, as well as I can so that way I can go in and let my play speak for itself.”
Here’s a little background on Herzlich just in case some of you are wondering who the heck this guy is:
Herzlich attended Boston College and played linebacker during his years there. He played in all 13 games in his freshmen season and was named Freshmen All-American honors by College Football News. He recorded 42 tackles, one interception, one sack, and two forced fumbles during that season.
Herzlich’s stats stayed consistent over the next two years at Boston College, but in 2009 everything came to a sudden halt. On May 14th that year Herzlich announced that he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Disease which is a rare form of bone cancer.
On September 29, 2009 Herzlich announced that he was cancer free, but he sat out for the entire football season.
When it comes to battles, Herzlich knows how to face them.
Herzlich played in all of the beginning 11 games of the 2011 season, and started the last two of those, but an ankle injury forced him on the sideline for the remainder of the season which prompted the Giants to recall Blackburn.
“It was frustrating,” Herzlich said of his prolonged absence. “As awesome as it was going through the playoffs and winning all the games and winning the Super Bowl – obviously it was a dream come true. There’s still something left on the table for me, personally, because I didn’t get to play in those games. So it pushes me even harder right now, because I don’t want that to ever happen again. I don’t want to be watching those games and not playing in them.”
I’ve repeatedly said over and over again that the battle for linebacker was going to be an interesting one. Like mentioned above, Fewell believes Blackburn is the guy to start at middle linebacker, but it’s not set in stone.
Aside from Herzlich, other guys battling for the spots are Michael Boley, Greg Jones, and Keith Rivers.
I think Herzlich has the biggest chance against Blackburn for the middle linebacker spot. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot of updates from Fewell during training camp about these guys.
Herzlich has had his battles both professionally and personally, battles that a lot of us may not fully understand. In the end, he is working hard to win this one and won’t stop at anything until he does.