New York Giants middle linebacker Jon Beason did not practice Thursday due to soreness in the knee that has sidelined him since the team's first preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Beason, a veteran who has dealt with a myriad of injuries throughout his career and played only four games last season, still believes he will play Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
"That's the plan. Trust me, I don't want to miss Dallas, Sunday Night Football, the opener, so for me personally, it means everything," Beason said.
Beason, 30, is undeniably a proud player. He is also the guy looked at as the leader of the Giants' defense. His presence in the middle would be invaluable. His backups are a rookie undrafted free agent who has never played an NFL game in Uani' Unga and a veteran run-stopper who just joined the Giants and still need to learn the playbook in Jasper Brinkley.
The Giants will have a recovery day, what some have come to call a "Spa Day," on Friday. After working full on Wednesday and taking Thursday off how he feels on Friday will be critical for Beason.
"Wednesday was basically to gauge where I was full speed and see how I felt. Obviously we were in pads, tackling, and changing directions. Felt pretty good. It's just, see how it feels the next day, and so it's a little sore, so the smartest thing to do is to take a day off and see how it feels tomorrow," he said Thursday. "I lined up fully padded, made some tackles, getting people lined up, changing directions, and chased the ball. I was pretty much myself but I was sore today."
Even if Beason is full-go Sunday against Dallas it would make sense for the Giants to limit his snaps by getting him off the field in passing situations where there is more running, and where he is obviously less effective even without the knee issue.
Unga worked increasingly as a nickel linebacker during the preseason, and it's possible he and J.T. Thomas III could be the two linebackers in those sets. During preseason the Giants often dropped linebacker Devon Kennard to defensive end in long-yardage situations, and it's a look we could see against the Cowboys.
Beason likes what he has seen from Unga.
"First off, I think he's tough, I think he's an extremely intelligent football player, and that's what makes him, him. He takes coaching extremely well and when you see a guy who wants it, you want to help him out," Beason said. "The game is bigger than all of us, we're all just trying to do the best we can for the time that we have, and if you can pass something on to somebody who cares as much as he does, it makes you feel good inside. I love to see him go out there and make plays, to get guys lined up, make checks, and be confident because he is kind of a mild mannered person. To get him out there, making checks, and screaming, it's good to see. I was happy when he made the team and now he's here and he's going to help us out tremendously."
Beason is also familiar with Brinkley, signed this week to replace Jameel McClain as the backup middle linebacker.
"He's a guy who took advantage of his opportunity. E.J. Henderson goes down [in Minnesota], I think he broke his femur and this kid steps in and was all over the place for some years," Beason said. "I don't know what happened in Dallas [the Cowboys released Brinkley Monday] but he's a steal for us and I think he's a great football player."
As upbeat as Beason is about his potential replacements, the best thing for the Giants would be to see him on the field Sunday night, moving well and able to make plays. The one thing we can count on is that Beason will do whatever he can to make that a reality.