Linebackers. They are a constant topic of conversation here at Big Blue View, with their play and the New York Giants seeming unwillingness to prioritize the position constantly being bones of contention.
Third-year player Spencer Paysinger is one of those linebackers and he could well end up as a starter in what will definitely be a revamped unit. Two of last season's starters, Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn, are no longer Giants. The third, Mathias Kiwanuka, is now a full-time defensive end.
Entering training camp, Paysinger and oft-injured veteran Keith Rivers will top the depth chart on the outside. Mark Herzlich will be No. 1 on the inside.
Paysinger understands the perception, and knows there are questions about the linebacking unit.
"I think each of us have our own different kind of challenges that we want to accomplish," Paysinger said during mini-camp. "Myself and Mark being undrafted guys, as well as a couple of other players in the room. Just show them that we can go from being primarily special team players to growing into ourselves out there and showing the players as well as the coaches and also the fans, too, that you don't have to have the big names to play linebacker.
"Myself I'm not a big name at all or anything like that but I have shown that I can handle the workload."
Paysinger had 39 tackles in 2012. He played 137 defensive snaps, 67 of those in the final three games when his role on the defense expanded.
Paysinger knows the questions go beyond the linebackers to the entire Giants defense, which finished 31st in th eleague last season in yardage allowed. He believes, as he should, that the defense will be much-improved in 2013.
"This year we've done a lot of things to put the right players in the right positions to make good and great plays. The coaches did a really good job in the offseason looking at where we could improve in terms of schemes, in terms of personnel and just overall focus," Paysinger said. "Our focus and our attention to detail has been heightened since last year. I can tell just off of OTAs that the defense will step up."
Giants' fans can only hope that Paysinger is right on both counts.