August 18, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich (58) before the start of a preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
You cannot talk to Carl Banks, one of the great outside linebackers in the history of the New York Giants franchise, without eventually getting around to the subject of linebackers. With the Giants these days, that means discussing the competition between veteran incumbent Chase Blackburn and second-year man Mark Herzlich.
The opinion has been espoused here at Big Blue View, by yours truly and others, that it is only a matter of time before the young, talented Herzlich takes the job away from Blackburn. Offered that rationale on Wednesday, Banks wouldn't bite.
"I still think Mark has a few things to master. He's got a really good skill set. I think what will help Mark is mastering the little subtleties of playing linebacker so that he can play 95 percent on instincts," Banks said.
"He's got great instincts, and it's just some of the little things that kind of catch him up every once in a while. That just comes with experience."Some version of 'mastering the little subleties' of playing the middle linebacker has been mentioned by Giants coaches, and even by Herzlich himself, during the preseason. So, what are those subleties?
Banks seemed to indicate that one of those is learning to control his aggression. Herzlich started two games last season before suffering a broken ankle, and came out of Saturday night's preseason game against the New York Jets after a helmet to the hip resulted in a hip-pointer.
"He plays with reckless abandon. He'll have to understand at the point of attack on tackles and things like that he's going to have to make really good, sound fundamental tackles," Banks said. "You just can't throw your body into every play.
"It's just those little things. You can't discourage anything about him. He'll just have to continue to settle into the position and the only way you can do that is if he's healthy."
Banks also warned against discounting Blackburn's experience.
"Chase Blackburn is a player they trust. They know he's not going to make a lot of mistakes, so what he lacks in athletic ability he makes up for with his smarts. He made some of the biggest plays of the year last year, especially in the Super Bowl," Banks said. "He's not going to let them cast him aside, he's going to play hard."