Linebackers: Where Giants' LBs stand heading into mini-camp

Mark Herzlich - Joe Camporeale-US PRESSWIRE

A look at what we learned about the Giants' linebackers during last week's OTAs.

With the New York Giants mandatory mini-camp beginning Tuesday let's take a look at where things stand at one of the Giants most competitive positions, and the one that seems to draw the most interest around here. That, of course, would be linebacker.

What did we learn about the linebackers from OTAs last week?

Well, we learned that the starting linebackers continued to be Mark Herzlich in the middle flanked by Keith Rivers at the strong side and Spencer Paysinger on the weak side. That has been the case throughout OTAs, and it has been particularly interesting to hear that Herzlich -- who could not oust Chase Blackburn -- has been ahead of free-agent signee Dan Connor thus far. There is no guarantee that will continue, of course, but it does bear watching.

Jacquain Williams, likely competing with Paysinger for the weak side job, took some reps last week for the first time. Williams is being cautious this offseason after dealing with a PCL injury last season.

With Williams limited, Paysinger has impressed linebackers coach Jim Herrmann.

"He is doing a good job. He has a great opportunity to get snaps. And he is competing for the job," Herrmann said. "He has matured over the last two years. To me, the biggest thing I have seen was his maturity level, because he is comfortable with the formation. Now he is going to go out and take the next step forward because he is anticipating the plays faster and faster."

Head coach Tom Coughlin has been pleased by the competition at linebacker thus far.

"It is a good thing. The other day Keith Rivers made a heck of a play ... Herzlich has made some plays. Two days in a row now he has intercepted balls," Coughlin said. "So I think the guys – they are anxious to make the contribution. They know the position is open. And I think that has motivated them in a very positive way to have a good spring and to give us some strong feelings about where we are."

Veteran free-agent signees Aaron Curry and Kyle Bosworth are also among the players trying to impress the coaching staff and earn a spot with the team.

Herrmann, echoing Coughlin, also talked about how competitive the position is.

"This is basically a new group of guys. And I think the biggest thing right now is we are going out and learning what to do and competing. To me, the competition is going to keep going and keep going and keep going - which is going to make us all better," Herrmann said. "We are trying to develop a unit that can go out - regardless of who goes out and plays - we are going to be pretty good. Right now they have done a good job."

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