One summer ago, 2022 sixth-round pick Darrian Beavers lost an opportunity to play a significant role on the New York Giants defense when he tore his left ACL in a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
When the Giants opened their 2023 training camp on Wednesday, it was apparent that opportunity is still knocking for the 24-year-old. He was with the starting defense during 7-on-7 drills, taking most of the reps next to Bobby Okereke.
Beavers said on Wednesday that the injury, which happened making a tackle against the Bengals, was the first major one he had suffered.
“It was a shock — my first injury in my life,” Beavers said. “I’ve had like maybe a twisted ankle or stuff like that, but this is the first one that’s been big, and it was different for me. I mean, I had to get through stuff, ups and downs, and now that I’m out here playing football again, it’s just a blessing.”
Beavers knows last season was a missed opportunity. Dealing with the injury, which he referred to as “catastrophic,” was harder than dealing with considering what might have been.
“The injury just itself probably just did it to me,” Beavers said. “I know the stuff that I could’ve done last year, helping this team out. But I think the injury, even if I was a practice squad guy, I think the injury itself is just, it’s just so catastrophic that it doesn’t matter what role you’re in ‘cause it just takes your whole season away no matter what.”
Beavers worked out all spring in East Rutherford and said he did not think about how his knee would react while practicing on Wednesday.
“When I’m out there, the knee is the last thing on my mind,” Beavers said. “When I’m out there. It’s more about knowing what I’m supposed to do out there. Knowing the call, knowing my alignment, other things like that. My knee, I was just telling them out there [ap. practice]. I didn’t even notice it to be honest. There’s so much more that I have to focus on when I’m out there. I can’t be focusing on my knee.”
Beavers’ main competition for a starting job is Micah McFadden, another second-year player. The path to playing time became clearer when veteran linebacker Jarrad Davis was lost before camp began to a season-ending torn ACL.
“It sucks man. That’s the same thing that happened, almost the same thing, that happened to me last year,” Beavers said. “Just a snap, one play I was just gone. So, it sucks. We were training here for the whole offseason. I know how much time and effort he put in. For me it was just more sad than anything.”
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale lauded Beavers in the spring for his physicality, and said that it looks different when he watches Beavers vs. other Giants linebackers.
I asked Beavers if he could explain what made Martindale say that.
“I don’t know,” Beavers said. “I don’t know what play style I would put myself as, to be honest. I want to be the best at everything. That’s just the way that every linebacker has to think.
“We’re all built different, but for me I want to be the best at everything. If that’s coverage, if that’s run, if that’s anything. You’re just trying to be the best at everything, and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”