With Jon Beason down with the broken bone and torn ligament in his right foot, the big question entering Tuesday's first practice of mandatory mini-camp for the New York Giants was 'how would the linebackers be aligned?' Ladies and gentlemen, your middle linebacker for the Giants is now Jameel McClain.
"He's been in there before," Coughlin said. "He's played in there, he's played on the outside. It's just a simple move."
McClain, in his first year with the Giants after six seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, doesn't see what the big deal is about moving from the strong side to the middle.
"My experience in this league has been like that," McClain said. "It's always been learning different things to try to help out the team. That's the player that I am. That's something that I'm used to, so I don't think it's anything that I'll actually lose. If anything, I'll learn more of the defense."
McClain also has no qualms about handling the responsibility of calling the defensive signals and getting players lined up.
"Responsibilities always change. With great opportunity comes a lot of responsibility. Getting people lined up and doing things that I'm normally accustomed to is just something that I will bring to it. It's something that we will all bring to it, so everyone gets a chance to learn what it's like to be the man, to be the middle linebacker, to make the calls, to get it all right. That makes a great defense when everybody knows what to do."
"That’s my game, that’s my style of play," McClain step. "I believe in picking others up more than myself. If that becomes a leader, that’s what a leader is to some people. To me, it’s just my game, just getting people aligned and being in the right position.
Coughlin indicated that Devon Kennard, the rookie fifth-round pick, and McClain were the two options in the middle. Interestingly, the coach did not mention Mark Herzlich.
On Tuesday, however, Kennard worked outside rather than in the middle. He even received first-team reps on the strong side when the Giants were in their base defense. In nickel situations, McClain and Jacquian Williams were the linebackers. Herzlich and Spencer Paysinger ran exclusively with the second unit. The Giants also showed a nickel look with Mathias Kiwanuka standing up as rush linebacker.
"They gave me the opportunity and I'm taking advantage of it," Kennard said.
Learning both linebacker spots was "no problem at all," Kennard said.
"I'm spending hours and hours in the playbook every day, every night. I go home and I'm studying for hours so I get there and I get those live reps and it's getting easier and slowing down for me," Kennard said. "I'm making more and more plays and making more of an impact and that's all I'm trying to do - play my part and show that I can help the team."
The Giants, as has been their method of operation in recent years, did not spend heavily on the free-agent market or use a high draft choice on the linebacker position. McClain and Kennard may, however, provide them with an upgrade.