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Mark Herzlich on Fast Track to Become New York Giants’ Starting MLB

June 12th, 2013 at 10:45 AM
By Dan Benton

At one point in time, many wondered if Mark Herzlich would ever play football again. And even after beating Ewing's Sarcoma and signing with the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent, questions lingered. Was he merely a fell good signing? Could he actually make the team? Well, he was a feel good story, and not just because he beat cancer, but because he's a hell of a football player who not only made the team, but went on to win himself a Super Bowl ring.

Now, here in 2013, Herzlich has surprisingly flown under the radar. The irony being that if there was ever a time to talk about what Herzlich means to a team on the field, this would be it.

With Chase Blackburn now in Carolina with the Panthers, Herzlich has the greatest opportunity of his career ahead of him: a chance to win the starting middle linebacker job for the New York football Giants.

"This is an unbelievable opportunity, just to have the opportunity to break into the starting role," Herzlich said. "And the rest is on me — whether I perform well enough and do well enough and study well enough to get that job."

Throughout OTAs and during the first day of mandatory mini-camp, Herzlich has primarily found himself starting at MLB on the first-team defense. In others words, it would appear as if the starting job has become his to lose. And to say he's taking it seriously would be a bit of an understatement.

"After the first OTA, we always go and watch the films — me and [Spencer Paysinger] were watching film, and we’re like, 'We’re gonna know this defense better than the coaches,'" Herzlich said. "So we went to Costco that day, got dry erase boards — I was on the dry erase board all [Monday], just reviewing everything from OTAs, getting ready for minicamp. That way, when you eliminate the mental mistakes, you can play faster and more physical."

Of course, as the team moves into training camp and the preseason, competition will heat up. Recently signed linebacker Dan Connor will compete for snaps, as will Jake Muasau and, possibly, Keith Rivers, who has some experience in the middle.

But, at the end of the day (royalties to Antrel Rolle), Herzlich has the inside track and does not appear ready or willing to let up. Odds are, he'll be the man starting in the middle when Big Blue opens their season against the Dallas Cowboys in early September.

Photo credit: BigBlueCowboy via photobucket cc

Also…

Tags: Chase Blackburn, Football, Mark Herzlich, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Spencer Paysinger

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13 Responses to “Mark Herzlich on Fast Track to Become New York Giants’ Starting MLB”

  1.  Krow says:

    Repost …

    And Hakeem certainly does NOT want to base contract negotiations on last season. I doubt he’s pushing for an extension. This is your typical contract year scenario.

    But I’m very worried that we won’t sign him.

    If he has a banner year then demand will be astronomical. Teams will throw bags of money at him, and that’s not our style.

    If he tanks then we won’t offer him top #1 WR dollars. BUT … someone else will based purely on speculation.

    Either way I have a bad feeling about our chances of retaining him. And unlike Cruz he’s not plugged into the NYC celebrity whirl. It’ll be all about the contract. And it only takes one desperate, stupid team to jack the bidding out of our range.

    ***

    Nicks NEEDS numbers to get his contract. Otherwise he has to depend on someone playing Al Davis. Either way I suspect he gets his money … elsewhere.

    •  JimStoll says:

      although it sounds absurd right now, for the reasons you mention above, there is a chance that when 2014 rolls around neither Nicks or Cruz is wearing Giants’ blue

    •  GOAT56 says:

      Why does Nicks need number when Jennings didn’t?

      Carolina is waiting if we ever let Nicks test free agency.

      •  Krow says:

        He doesn’t. He needs numbers to get wide interest in him from several teams and the contract competion every FA craves. Without numbers he has to depend on someone offering him a ‘faith based’ contract.

        Either way I don’t think the winner will be us.

  2.  F0XLIN says:

    Would really love to see Herzlich win the MLB and be the next great LB in blue for years to come

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I’m just hoping Herzlich can be the level player that Goff looked like he was becoming before his injury. Not great but an above average, good MLB.

  3.  buljos says:

    I wouldn’t say he’s on the fast track to become MLB… instead I’d say that today he’s there because the alternatives have yet to learn the system. But I’d suggest that he better improve his pass protection skills a lot if he’s going to stay there, because from the tape I’ve seen, he hasn’t been very good at all. I like the kid. Great story. Pulling for him to take that next step up. But will he still be out there once the new guys get acclimated to the play book and start playing with confidence at full speed? Is a healthy Connor going to be sitting the bench come September?

  4.  Krow says:

    Herzlich seemed to have good instincts when it comes to pass defense.

  5.  fanfor55years says:

    Ah, I knew this was coming. The Great Mark Herzlich Debate.

    He is the heir apparent, and the Giants made that clear early last season when they talked about how much he would learn from Chase Blackburn. At that point it was obvious that they WANTED him to take that job. They still do. He will have competition, but as Dan says, the job is his to lose.

    He played VERY well in Week 17 against the Eagles, his first real complete game, but he had shown flashes prior to his injury in 2011 (and also large areas that needed improvement). He is intelligent and dedicated. When he gets to the right gap he is as good at meeting the play as any linebacker they’ve had here in some time.

    And here’s the reason he is likely to get the job. The Giants want the equivalent of an assistant coach on the field at the MIKE position, a player they can count on for years to come who will help run the defense. Rivers is on a one-year deal. Muasau is not going to know the defense well enough. Connor is a one-year deal. Curry is probably better suited to the SAM spot and will probably compete with Rivers there. The Giants will be looking for reasons to give the job to Herzlich. If his play against the Eagles wasn’t a result of their laying down in a game that had no meaning for them when they knew their coach was going to be fired, then he’s ready to take it.

    I know many here think Herzlich is mediocre. I’m not so sure about that. And I certainly see him as becoming better than what we’ve had since the few good years Pierce had for us before his rapid decline.

  6.  fanfor55years says:

    Anyone who isn’t at least a bit troubled by Victor Cruz’s off-field pursuits should look at the Giants 101 thing to the right. When a guy says he wanted to be an actor, would love to be Jaden Smith (who hasn’t done spit except take advantage of his father’s clout to make two lousy movies, and thinks he’s wise enough to see that “patterns” rule the universe without having a clue what that means), and now has surrounded himself with the JayZ posse, there’s some smoke there.

    I hope this kid hasn’t completely lost his edge. Everything he’s got came from football, and playing in New York. He ought to stay focused on the right things. Here’s hoping he does.

  7.  Michael A says:

    The young man (Cruz) just wants to be paid fair value. Yes he’s predominatly a slot WR, but he’s been a tremendous playmaker. And while I must admit that nicks and manningham were my favorites over Cruz, Cruz numbers over 2 years are ridiculous. If the giants weren’t strapped for cash, they would already offered him 9-10 million per. He’s one of few players I can honestly say deserve his big payday. But with Nicks and JPP and linval Joseph soon up for new contracts a hard line had to be drawn, and the Gmen are sweating out Cruz situation. If they can’t afford him, they should have listened to offers. And got what they could. Based on numbers and availability Cruz has been a top 5 WR the past 2 years. Sure I can admit having nicks around takes some of the pressure off but he still dominates in games without nicks. Off topic Coughlin needs to stop being so negative about the Cruz situation, he’s technically a free agent and not under any obligation to be there until he signs. And herzlich is a borderline talent at best… No explosion. I believe Connor is the better player. But Coughlin will ultimately start herzlich due to familiarity.

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