Will Hill has been suspended for four games without pay by the NFL for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, and newcomer Ryan Mundy will now have to step up his game and fill in for Hill while he's on the shelf.
Mundy played with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the entirety of his four-year career before being signed by the New York Giants this offseason. A safety by trade, Mundy has also seen significant time at cornerback. That being said, the last time he played there consistently came back in 2010.
The 28-year-old West Virginia product is known as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL — even if he's only started five games in his career. He's never missed a game however, playing in all 64 games since he was drafted 194th (sixth round) overall. He has one career interception and two forced fumbles, while only recording 59 career tackles.
Mundy's career has obviously been less-than-stellar up to this point, but Hill's suspension could give him the chance to find more playing time. Stevie Brown and Antrelle Rolle are slated to start at the safety positions, and Mundy likely would have filled in as the immediate backup to Brown. Hill was slated to play behind Rolle but, with him out, head coach Tom Coughlin may not be willing to rely on David Caldwell to take his place. Mundy could feasibly play a dual role as the backup to both Brown and Rolle.
This would put him on the field much more than he would have been otherwise. The ability to play defensive back also gives him an advantage, but the Giants actually have some depth there. In an emergency, Mundy could easily step in.
The focus now will be on his ability to play both strong safety and free safety, though. The Giants defense ranked 31st overall last season, and there wasn't one particular unit that deserved all the blame. The defensive line had issues getting in the backfield, the linebacking unit was decimated by injury and inability, while the secondary allowed big plays and had issues tackling in the open field. Mundy obviously can't help in all of those areas, but he can definitely bring some intensity and hard-hitting to the secondary.
There's also the chance for Mundy to step into a starting role if Brown can't live up to the high expectations he's placed on himself. Brown earned the starter's spot after a stellar 2012 season in terms of takeaways, but oftentimes great safeties and defensive backs don't rack up the interceptions. It'll be his ability to cover and tackle that determines whether or not he plays.
This scenario would have Mundy making an impact far beyond the four games Hill will be suspended for.
Hill was far from a game-changer in 12 games for the Giants last season, but his loss will be felt if Mundy can't step up. In his first season with the Giants, Mundy has the potential to make a huge impact.
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