Mark Herzlich was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Giants on July 28, 2011. The 6 foot 4 inch player from Boston College was projected as a first-round pick before being diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. He was once told by doctors he would never walk again. He finished the 2001 season with just 12 tackles, mostly playing on special teams. Now, he has a legitimate shot at starting at middle linebacker for the New York Giants.
He is an athletic run stopper who has been very productive in camp so far. He is set to battle veteran Chase Blackburn for the starting spot.
Blackburn has been through a lot since joining the Giants. After being with Big Blue for 6 seasons, the Giants did not resign Chase. He went unsigned until the Giants brought him in December 2011, week 13 against the Green Bay Packers. The line backing corps had been ravaged by injuries and Blackburn was a safe pick to return to the team. It might have been the most important signings of the year for the Giants as Chase made one of the most important plays of the year when he picked off Brady in the Super Bowl.
Chase has never been the fastest, never been the most athletic, but he has always been consistent. Chase never wowed anyone with measurables, but he seemed too often be in the right place, at the right time to make a big play. When the Giants made the decision to not bring chase back, the decision was made because of the things that stared up at you off a piece of paper. They were looking to get younger, faster and more athletic in the middle of the field. They needed someone to cover the middle of the field and clog the running lanes.
That brings us to 2012. Herzlich is completely healthy, running better than he did at the NFL Combine and has made his mark on special teams. The Giants would love to see Herzlich grab the starting job, but they recognize that Blackburn is doing everything he can to keep a strangle hold on it.
As of right now, Blackburn is atop the depth chart, but Herzlich is nipping at his heels. Having two quality middle linebackers, especially for the Giants, is definitely not a bad thing. The defensive line is already banged up in the middle as we told you earlier. The Giants have been ravaged by injuries all over the field the last 3 years coming out of camp. Depth is something that will be largely appreciated going into the season. At a time when the Giants are again just looking to break camp healthy, a position where the battle to start is actually by the two people intended to do so is great. Instead of having to sign a player or players they hoped to have no need for going into camp.
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