The New York Giants won't waste any time finding out if linebacker Jon Beason, acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers last Friday, can help them. The Giants expect Beason to be a significant part of their defense Thursday night when they face the Chicago Bears.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said earlier this week that Beason is "ready to contribute."
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How will defensive coordinator Perry Fewell use the seven-year veteran?
"We are going to incorporate him in our defense this week. We have certain packages that he will be involved in," Fewell said. "He’s only been with us a couple of days, but we felt like it was important to get him involved as soon as possible."
Fewell said the Giants will use Beason as a middle linebacker. That is the position he played until last season, when he was moved to the weak side by Carolina to make room for Luke Kuechly. Beason, 28, was a Pro Bowler from 2008-2010 before injuries, most notably a knee injury that required micro-fracture surgery, took their toll. He has appeared in only eight games the past three seasons.
Beason is looking forward to the opportunity.
"I’m in the playbook heavy. It’s different terminology, but I’ve played football in this league for a long time, so I feel pretty comfortable about it," he said.
What Beason can still offer in terms of play-making ability is debatable. The Panthers had clearly decided the answer was not much, first moving him outside in favor of Kuechly, then pushing him to the bench in favor of former Giant Chase Blackburn and finally trading him to the Giants for a late-round pick.
Spencer Paysinger, the only Giants' linebacker to play nearly every down so far this season, has been wearing the radio in his helmet and calling the defensive signals. It isn't clear if he will continue to do so, or if that role will transition to Beason as his comfort with the defensive scheme increases.
"Some of it he can handle. Some of it he can’t. He’ll grow with the system," Fewell said.
The Giants have not had a true top-tier middle linebacker since the heyday of Antonio Pierce. They have made due with players like Jonathan Goff, Blackburn, Greg Jones, Dan Connor and Mark Herzlich.
This, incidentally, would appear to bring an end to Herzlich's hopes of ever establishing himself as the Giants' middle linebacker. In the last two seasons he has lost that job to Blackburn, Connor and now Beason.
Does Beason have enough left to be a difference maker in the middle of the Giants' defense? The only thing we know for sure is that we begin to get the answer Thursday night.
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