EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — One-by-one, the number of available linebackers on the New York Giants roster has seemed to dwindle. J.T. Thomas is off PUP, but still not doing drills. Keenan Robinson is out of concussion protocol, but still limited. Mark Herzlich (stinger) and Devon Kennard did not practice Tuesday. B.J. Goodson left with a sore back after a collision.
Suddenly, that left undrafted free agent middle linebacker Calvin Munson working with the first team defense for the latter part of Tuesday’s practice.
During a goal-line situation, Munson had his number called. Working against the first-team offense, Munson came through the line on a run blitz and corralled running back Orleans Darkwa for a loss.
Speaking to reporters after practice he gave the play the “aw, shucks” treatment.
“We ran a blitz up the middle. I don’t know if they (the offense) messed up the protection, but I came free and I was just kinda right there,” Munson said. “So, it worked out.”
Even though he downplayed it, running with the first team and making a noticeable play was huge for the 22-year-old Munson.
“It was a great opportunity. We’ll go in, we’ll evaluate the practice and we’ll see how they did,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “It was a great opportunity for a lot of players today.”
Munson said he understood that expectations are raised when you suddenly find yourself working with the starting defense.
The guys, the 1s, they expect more of you,” Munson said. “If you’re going to be in that role they want you to perform well.”
Entering training camp, Munson said his only expectation was “to give it the best shot and whatever happens happens.”
Now, Munson could be carving a path to a roster spot as a special teams player and a reserve linebacker. He played 14 special teams snaps in the preseason opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday.
“I’m getting more confident,” Munson said. “I’ve been here every day. I’m just trying to learn and grow each day and not make the same mistakes as I did before. I’m just trying to get better, I’m just trying to learn from the older guys and follow their footsteps.
“I knew coming in I was going to have to do the best I could on special teams. I just wanted to stay healthy, learn the defense the best I can and let everything fall into place. Whether that’s only special teams or special teams and linebacker I just want to do the best I can and just do whatever helps the team.”