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Keith Rivers: Linebacker hopes to stay healthy in 2013

New York Giants' linebacker Keith Rivers could have a big role for the team in 2013 -- if he can stay healthy for the first time in his career.

Keith Rivers
Keith Rivers
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

Linebacker Keith Rivers, whose return to the New York Giants was officially announced by the team on Friday, knows that after five NFL season he still has much to prove.

"Anytime you step on the field you have something to prove - me, more so," Rivers said Friday. "Obviously, I have to prove I can stay healthy. I haven't necessarily been able to be trusted to stay healthy. Hopefully, taking a big rest this off-season will help me do that."

Health has always been the biggest issue for the soon-to-be 27-year-old, drafted in the first round (ninth overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008. He has never played a full season, and missed the entire 2011 season with a wrist injury. He played 11 games for the Giants last season, missing time with a stubborn hamstring injury. He made 37 tackles.

'I have to prove I can stay healthy. I haven't necessarily been able to be trusted to stay healthy.' - Keith Rivers

"It was tough," Rivers said of the 2012 season. "I was rushing to get back and not necessarily letting it heal all the way. Sometimes the chips fall that way. I think I may have over-trained due to being out. I was a little overzealous. I worked out way too hard.

"It's very frustrating and very stressful. You work really hard to stay healthy and that doesn't actually happen. It's part of the deal. You have to accept the good with the bad."

The Giants released starting weakside linebacker Michael Boley and appear set to lose starting middle linebacker Chase Blackburn via free agency. Rivers, a talented player with experience at all three linebacker spots, could have a big role in a revamped Giants' linebacking unit. If he can stay on the field.