Can the New York Giants count on Jon Beason to be in the lineup and be productive in 2015? That is one of the biggest questions for the Giants as they enter the season and begin to build a brand new defense at the direction of Steve Spagnuolo, who returns for his second stint as defensive coordinator.
Beason spoke to reporters via conference call on Monday as the Giants began their voluntary offseason workouts. The oft-injured veteran, entering his 10th NFL season, said that "injuries are by chance" and believes he will be healthy this season.
"I'm going to be healthy every game. My focus is on the opener," Beason said.
Beason has only played a full season once since 2010. That was in 2013, when he played 15 games, 12 with the Giants and three with the Carolina Panthers. He missed one game not because of injury, but because of the trade that brought him to New York. In 2011, 2012 and 2014 he played a combined total of only nine games. Beason missed time in Carolina with an achilles tendon injury and a knee injury. He missed most of last season with foot and toe injuries.
What kind of player can the 30-year-old be? Beason is a three-time Pro Bowler but hasn't received that honor since 2010. The years may have taken their roll on Beason physically, but they have not wrecked his belief in himself.
"I feel like when I'm healthy I'm the best in the game," Beason said.
That is probably not true. Probably not even close to true. The variety of injuries to his legs have taken too much of his athleticism, too much of his range for him to be in that category. The Giants will be happy if Beason can be healthy, if he can play the run well in a limited area, if he can help lead and organize a defense that was too often unorganized and undisciplined in 2014.
Beason said that he had the opportunity to speak with Antonio Pierce and Jonathan Vilma, middle linebackers under Spagnuolo with the Giants and New Orleans Saints, respectively. The Giants, with Antrel Rolle now a member of the Chicago Bears, they will hope to be able to lean on Beason's experience and leadership ability.
CBA rules have prevented Beason from meeting with Spagnuolo or learning anything about the new defense to this point, but Beason did say the Giants will have to "reset" on defense. He said he will have to "study like a rookie" again.
"We've gotta start all over again. We've got to completely reset," Beason said. "Just buy into a system. Whatever my coach asks me to do that's what I'm going to do. If we do that we'll get on the same page."
It will certainly be a plus if Beason is able to stay on the field to help write the book of what the Giants' defense will be in 2015.