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Giants Roster Breakdown: Keith Rivers

Keith Rivers is penciled in as the Giants' starting strong-side linebacker.

Keith Rivers makes a tackle during the 2012 season
Keith Rivers makes a tackle during the 2012 season
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Keith Rivers is one of the more intriguing members of the New York Giants defense to track this season. Despite a long injury history, including five missed games in 2012, Rivers has basically been handed the strong-side linebacker job. Let's take a closer look at Rivers as we continue our player-by-player breakdown of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

2012 Season In Review

Rivers, as he has throughout his career, battled injuries in 2012. Hamstring woes limited him to 11 games, including six starts. He made 44 tackles and had one pass defensed. Rivers had a -3.1 rating from Pro Football Focus in 238 defensive snaps. The Giants acquired Rivers via trade from the Cincinnati Bengals.

2013 Outlook

Michael Boley is gone, with the Giants having chosen to bring back Rivers as a free agent instead. Mathias Kiwanuka has moved to defensive end full time. The strong-side linebacker job belongs to Rivers -- provided he can stay healthy enough to keep it.

Health, not talent, has always been the issue for Rivers since the Bengals drafted him in the first round in 2008. He has played 46 NFL games and missed 34, including the entire 2011 season, in his five-year career.

Rivers, 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, has the strength to hold up against the run and the athleticism to be trusted covering tight ends vs. the pass. If he can stay on the field Rivers should help upgrade the linebacking unit in 2013. That, however, is a big if.