Coach talk: Herrmann on linebackers

June, 20, 2013
6/20/13
11:46
AM ET
With the Giants off until training camp, we're periodically taking a look at what the coaches are saying about how their positions looked this offseason in OTAs.

Today, we look at Jim Herrmann's thoughts on the linebackers.


G-Unit: The linebackers are expected to be the most heavily competitive position group in training camp.

Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich and Keith Rivers could enter camp as the starters in the Giants' base defense. But, Perry Fewell used Herzlich, Rivers and Spencer Paysinger as the starters in OTAs and minicamp while Williams was limited as he recovers from a PCL knee injury from last year.

[+] EnlargeSpencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers and Mark Herzlich.
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsSpencer Paysinger (52) , Keith Rivers (55) and Mark Herzlich (58) are vying for starting jobs.
Herrmann said the most important thing, in the wake of changes to the linebackers group, is developing a cohesive unit. Mathias Kiwanuka is moving back to defensive end and Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley are no longer with the team.

"This is basically a new group of guys," Herrmann said recently. "And I think the biggest thing right now is we are going out and learning what to do and competing. To me, the competition is going to keep going and keep going and keep going –- which is going to make us all better."

Situational subs: Herrmann was asked whether situations will dictate who plays at linebacker.

Is it possible that Herzlich could start at middle linebacker in some games, based on the opponent's tendencies, and the following week a new starter could be in there against a different type of offense?

"I think that is a big part of the NFL game today," Herrmann said. "It is very situational. It is dictated a lot by the offense -– what is the offense running? Who is going to be out there? What are our best matchups? Because the NFL is a game of matchups."

Perhaps the Giants can go with Herzlich, Dan Connor and Aaron Curry at middle linebacker depending on the type of offense they are facing on a given Sunday. In passing situations when the Giants use two linebackers, Fewell could go with Williams, Rivers and/or Paysinger.

Spencer for hire: If Paysinger continues to impress in camp, the formerly undrafted linebacker out of Oregon could surprise and win a starting outside linebacker spot. At the very least, Paysinger should see more snaps this season than he has in his three-year career.

Paysinger will have to contend with the likes of Williams, Rivers and Curry, among others.

"He is doing a good job," Herrmann said of Paysinger. "He is competing for the job. To me, the biggest thing I have seen was his maturity level, because he is comfortable with the formation. Now he is going to go out and take the next step forward because he is anticipating the plays faster and faster.

"He's not worried about, 'What do I do in this defense?' It is, 'OK, I know what I am doing -– now what is the offense going to do?' And he is anticipating. And all of those guys have done a much better job of that."

Tell us how you feel about the linebackers situation and how you want to see Fewell use his linebackers.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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