New York Giants: Who is the Odd-Man Out at Linebacker?

The New York Giants have a huge question looming.  Who will the Giants keep at linebacker?  As the Giants get set to enter training camp they currently have Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, Greg Jones, Jake Muasau, Jacquian Williams, Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Clint Sintim, and Spencer Paysinger all fighting for starting roles.  There is also Zak DeOssie, who is technically a linebacker but is the Giants long-snapper.  I would be shocked if he were the cut.  Obviously not everyone will make the final roster, leaving Coach Tom Coughlin and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell with some interesting questions to answer.

There are only so many holes that can be filled.  However, with some creative roster movement it is conceivable that the Giants can keep nine of those ten.  Right now, Boley and Rivers look like they will definitely be starters.  Kiwanuka might be the third starter but he can also play defensive end, something the Giants might have him do more often this season to help their pass rush.  Blackburn was signed midway through last season after the Giants were hit hard by injuries to their linebacking corps and he performed extremely well and was re-signed this offseason.  The Giants believe Williams, Jones, Herzlich, and Muasau all have the talent to be big-time contributors at some point in the near future but putting Muasau on the practice squad might be an option.  Sintim is recovering from an ACL injury, his second in two years.  It is unknown what kind of contribution he will be able to make on the field.

Sintim’s ACL injuries could very well make him the odd man out in this equation.  However, if he makes a full recovery and shows the coaching staff that he is healthy and can contribute on the field then the Giants will have to make a decision.  I don’t see them cutting Herzlich, Jones, Williams, or Blackburn.  They certainly aren’t cutting Kiwanuka, Boley, or Rivers.  That leaves Muasau, Paysinger, and Sintim on the bubble.  The Giants are high on Muasau and if he shows he can contribute in camp they might decide to keep him on the roster, especially for special teams.  If not, the Giants will sign him on their practice squad and hope no other teams come sniffing around, a risky move that could blow up on them.

When all is said and done I believe the odd man out might very well be Clint Sintim.  His two ACL injuries are something to be very concerned about and even when he was healthy and on the field he wasn’t living up to the potential the Giants thought they saw when they chose him in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft.  Then again, he could surprise people and prove everyone wrong but right now I have to believe he is fighting for his roster spot.  This should be one of the more interesting battles in training camp and something to keep an eye on.