Linebacker Devon Kennard may be the last remaining rookie without a contract, but the New York Giants' fifth-round pick still found himself in East Rutherford this week working out with his fellow teammates in preparation for the 2014 season. However, unlike many of Big Blue's newest talent crop, finding a fit for Kennard has been a bit of a challenge.
During his days at USC, Kennard bounced around quite a bit — something that may have ultimately hurt his draft stock. He saw time at every linebacker position and even some snaps defensive end, giving him a lot of experience in each area, but very little solidarity. With the Giants, they'll look to combat that trend and, thus far, have had Kennard focusing on the SAM position, as well as a little work in the middle.
"They want me to learn the middle linebacker spot and the SAM spot, so I’m kind of doing some dual learning and making sure I know both," Kennard said. "I definitely think SAM linebacker is the position that I feel most comfortable with. That’s what I did last year. But that’s because I did it last year, I feel like I can come on the inside as well. I definitely have a passion for rushing the passer, passing situations and things like that but I can also cover and do things like that."
That's not to say defensive coordinator Perry Fewell won't eventually look to utilize some of Kennard's versatility, but for a rookie coming into the NFL, it's all about taking baby steps and finding a comfort zone — there's little value in overwhelming him to such significant degree.
Luckily for Kennard, he has some savvy veterans to lean on in an effort to shorten that learning curve.
"You’ve got some veterans in the locker room who really know what they’re doing in Jon Beason and Spencer Paysinger and guys like that," Kennard said. "I’ve been clinging to those guys early on and learning from them and watching them, seeing how they do things. It’s just the little parts of the game that give them the edge. I’m trying to pick up on those things. I think it benefits me a lot."
With no rookie mini-camp this year, it truly will be trial by fire for this youngster in particular.
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