The New York Giants don't have any players in their much-maligned linebacking unit who could be considered great. They do, however, have several players who could be called 'solid', or 'useful.' One of them is Spencer Paysinger, who started 11 games in 2013.
Let's look at Paysinger as we continue player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp on July 21.
2013 Season In Review
Paysinger did not earn a full-time starting role as a linebacker in 2013, but he did show that he can be more than just a special teams player. In his third season, Paysinger started 11 games and played in all 16. He finished the season with 74 tackles. Paysinger showed some leadership skills by taking on the responsibility of calling defensive signals when then-starting middle linebacker Dan Connor was injured early in the season. Paysinger relinquished that duty when Jon Beason was inserted into the lineup. Paysinger played 707 defensive snaps, had a +0.3 Pro Football Focus rating and was second on the team in stops with 37. Only Justin Tuck, with 35, had more.
2014 Season Outlook
During OTAs and mini-camp, Paysinger seemed to be behind Jacquian Williams for the role as the starting weak-side or WILL linebacker. I wrote this a while back, but the Giants' apparent preference for Williams over Paysinger is something I really don't understand. This is what I wrote recently about the Paysinger-Williams dynamic:
When I compare Paysinger to Jacquian Williams, I believe Paysinger is the better player. Not the better athlete, but the better player. He has enough athleticism, makes the plays he is supposed to make and does not blow assignments. Williams can cover, but has never proven capable of playing the run. He also tends to blwo more assignments, creating big-play opportunities. Finally, Paysinger is a guy capable of handling leadership -- which he did last season when forced to call the defensive signals for several weeks until the arrival of Jon Beason.
Williams, for comparison, played 622 defensive snaps in 2013. He had 58 tackles, nine passes defensed and 19 stops. His PFF grade was +0.5, which included +3.8 vs. the pass and -3.8 vs. the run.
Paysinger is also a cerebral player who seems to fit well next to Beason and veteran Jameel McClain.
In 2013, the Giants often seemed to flip-flop between Williams and Paysinger based on the type of opponent they were playing. That could well be the case again in 2014.