The New York Giants helped their eighth-ranked defense of a season ago when they re-signed Jon Beason to a three-year deal, but they also gave Beason some help in the linebacker group when they added Jameel McClain from the Baltimore Ravens on a two-year deal.
McClain dealt with some injuries last season, but when he was finally able to re-join the Ravens and got back to playing at a high level, something that caught the attention of Jerry Reese and liked enough of what he saw from McClain to make him a likely candidate to be a starting outside linebacker this coming season.
On Wednesday, McClain's former head coach and current Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talked to Jordan Raanan of the Newark-Star Ledger about how much of an impact McClain was on his team and felt that not only were the Giants getting a very smart and intense player, but a leader who will help the younger players on the Giants as well.
"He came back midseason from that injury, so there is probably some transition there. By the end of the year, I think he was the same player, and he'll be even better next year, back to his old self probably. You're getting a physical player, a very physical run-stopper. You're getting a very smart player, he understands coverage schemes and you're getting a tremendous, great, high-character guy. He'll be a great mentor for the young players. He's just a top-shelf person."
Harbaugh also said that while the team didn't want to lose McClain in free agency, in the end, McClain got a better deal from the Giants and the Ravens felt like they couldn't lose Daryl Smith and ultimately, chose re-signing Smith over McClain this offseason.
After agreeing to the deal with the Giants, McClain talked about how he will be coming to the Giants next season with a major chip on his shoulder and will look to almost re-create himself as a football player; one that will cause havoc on opposing offenses.
“I’ve got a chip on my shoulder the size of a golden nugget,” McClain said. “I’m all the way there. Every time that I get a little itch, God always slaps me in the back of the head and says, ‘Jameel, you’ve got a long way to go.’ I signed a little deal and then after that I got hurt, that was God slapping me on the back on the head. Once I came back from that injury then I get cut, so that’s God slapping me on the back of the head again, just saying, ‘Your job is to be the underdog.’ For the world to see that the underdog can make it possible, that’s my destination, that’s going to be my journey. I know it and I accept it.”
With McClain playing with that chip on his shoulder and his veteran leadership that he brings, Jerry Reese really may have struck gold in this signing, especially if he can stay healthy and bring the same kind of championship pedigree to the Giants that he did in Baltimore that helped them win Super Bowl XLVII back in February of 2013.
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