Amidst all the fears over losing a pair of safeties in their second preseason game, the New York Giants also lost a pair of linebackers. Back-up strong-side linebacker Mark Herzlich suffered a concussion on the opening kic -off, which happened to go for a touchback, while starting middle linebacker Jon Beason suffered a sprained a sprained knee in the first quarter. Jonathan Casillas is also dealing with a neck injury.
Though Beason has declared that he would do everything humanly possible to be healthy in time to prepare to face the Cowboys Week 1, the Giants have yet to commit to a timeline for either injury.
The combination of the injuries to Beason, Herzlich and Casillas, as well as faith in the remaining safeties on the roster, explains why the Giants signed veteran linebacker Ashlee Palmer.
Palmer was came into the league as an undrafted rookie for the Buffalo Bills before joining the Detroit Lions. For more information on Palmer I reached out to Jeremy Reisman, the boss man over on SB Nation's Lions web site, Pride Of Detroit. Here is what Reisman said:
"Palmer was a guy that most people thought the Lions would bring back this year, just because of he has been around so long and was mostly fine as a backup. He also provided a lot of value on special teams in his five years with the Lions. Palmer was mostly utilized in kick and punt coverage units. He even made the all-PFF team in 2012 as a special teamer.
"As a linebacker, he excelled more as a run stuffer than anything else and was a pretty reliable tackler. Last year, they used him as a blitzer more than they had in the past. I wouldn't say he's a great blitzer, but he definitely improved as the season went on. Mostly, he was just a good clean-up guy for the Lions when they had a strong defensive line. Other than that, he was a pretty average linebacker with pretty average coverage skills."
If Herzlich's concussion turns out to be a long-term injury, it seems as though Palmer can provide much of the same play on special teams, and back up the SAM linebacker spot as a run defender and blitzer. If Beason isn't ready for Week 1, one option could be to move Devon Kennard, a smart, athletic, and versatile linebacker, over to the middle, and have Palmer or Jameel McClain take over on the outside. McClain took over for Beason in the middle last season, and as of now the Giants have McClain filling that same role.
There is also the question about why Palmer was still on the market. Players who are dynamic special teamers while also being competent back-ups aren't flashy, but they are also the kinds of guys that football teams need to win games. According to Jeremy, Palmer lost out to a numbers game in Detroit, but the rest of the league could have been turned off by the frustration he showed as he went unsigned.
A productive player for 6 years in multiple roles.. STILL NOT SIGNED.!! LOL— Ashlee Palmer (@ashpalmer58) April 3, 2015
Thanks for the added chip on my shoulders NFL!! #MOTIVATION !!— Ashlee Palmer (@ashpalmer58) April 3, 2015
The more snaps I receive the the more plays I'm able to make.— Ashlee Palmer (@ashpalmer58) April 4, 2015
Will Palmer make the Giants' squad in 2015? That remains to be seen. But he does appear to be a player who could be useful to the Giants. He also appears to have a lot of passion. The Giants have made a concerted effort to bring in players who will add an edge to their defense, and based on his tweets -- and the toughness a player needs to excel on special teams -- Palmer definitely brings that. He should be a player to keep an eye on for the remainder of preseason.