Entering preseason the Giants knew they were going to be having an open competition for the linebackers. However, most thought that the job in the middle was Mark Herzlich’s to lose.
Well it looks like that may be exactly what’s happening.
The Giants started Mark Herzlich at middle linebacker for the first preseason against the Steelers and came away with mixed results. At times Herzlich held his own, but overall the young linebacker seemed to over pursue, especially on running plays, resulting in the Giants first team defense getting torched on the ground against Pittsburgh.
Naturally, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin wanted to mix things up during the Giants second preseason matchup, which opened up an opportunity for former Cowboys linebacker Dan Connor to run with the first team.
Connor made his presence felt early, when on the very first Indianapolis play from scrimmage, Connor filled the middle, allowing Stevie Brown to tackle running back Vick Ballard for a one-yard loss.
When asked after the game if Connor had elevated himself to first team status head coach Tom Coughlin seemed reluctant to make that claim,
“It’s very competitive, so we flipped it around and just wanted to see him [Connor] operate with the ones.”
Now just days before the crucial third preseason game, Dan Connor is still working with the first team at middle linebacker, with Mark Herzlich taking his snaps with the second unit. Still, Tom Coughlin is not ready to say who will get the start on Saturday when the Giants face off against the Jets.
“They will both play,” Coughlin said. “They will both play a lot. I don’t know the order we will decide on this weekend. We will see how the first part of the week in practice goes.”
While who starts against the Jets will be a big indication of who will start the season in the middle for Big Blue, it is far from a sure thing at this point. With Herzlich and Connor neck and neck right now, the final decision will most likely hinge on who looks better this Saturday.