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Antonio Pierce Prepping Goodson To Lead Giants’ Defense

The leader of a Super Bowl defense is helping to coach the new generation

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have been looking for a reliable starting middle linebacker since Antonio Pierce’s career was ended by a neck injury in the 2009 season. Now it looks as if Pierce is helping to coach up his spiritual heir, second year linebacker B.J. Goodson.

About Pierce’s help Goodson said, “AP (Antonio Pierce) has been helping me out a lot on being more of just a vocal leader and having to stand for the defense and being a strong leader. Be that guy that the rest of the defense has to look up to, especially when times get rough. I’ve been embracing that as well.”

Earlier in the off-season, Steve Spagnuolo commented that he loved having Pierce on hand to help coach the young linebackers. One of the reasons, Spags said, is that with his experience playing in the scheme and executing it at the highest level, Pierce could bring a point of view to the players that the coaches couldn’t.

It’s something that Goodson recognizes and respects, saying, “I want to say it’s because I feel that he’s been in that position before. That definitely gives him more of my ear. He has a green light on more of my ear on certain things.”

Pierce, and others, have also been coaching Goodson on the leadership aspect of his position.

“I’ve definitely heard that there’s a certain personality that a linebacker has,” Goodson said. “I bring that aura of… just people want to be around a middle linebacker. There’s just a certain feeling of wellness being around a middle linebacker. Just making sure everybody is in the right position, making sure the other ten guys are comfortable and ready to do their jobs. I embrace it.”

“No, you can’t fake that,” he added, “it has to be real. You have to have that in you. There’s a lot of guys who try to fake it and they’re not successful at it.”

Goodson didn’t get many snaps on defense in the 2016 season. He mostly played special teams while he got up to speed in the Giants’ defense, but when he did get on the field, he was noticed. And despite having more veteran options, the Giants are turning to Goodson to quarterback their defense, something he has been working towards for over a year.

Goodson said of what makes him better now than as a rookie, “Just being me. Getting better a day at a time and one percent better at something a day at a time. If it’s something in the meeting room, if it’s footwork, if it’s hand placement, anything. You can get better at something, and I always say that. The coaches are still on me about that.”

“I’ve been working hard,” Goodson said. “I’ve been preparing to be the starter ever since I got here. Obviously, I didn’t get a chance to start my rookie year, but day in and day out, I’ve been preparing like the starter, like I said, when I got here. The opportunity has come.”