The injury to middle linebacker Jon Beason will cause some temporary shifts in the New York Giants‘ linebacker corps. Beason may miss the season opener but he is not supposed to be out much longer than that.
For now, strongside linebacker Jameel McClain has moved over to Beason’s spot in the middle. In McClain’s place, it will most likely be Spencer Paysinger that steps up into a short-term starting role. The other candidate is rookie Devon Kennard out of USC.
The position that remains open, with Beason in or out, is the weakside linebacker position. Paysinger and Kennard could also be in the running for this role, but the frontrunner is Jacquian Williams.
New York drafted Williams out of South Florida in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and he became an immediate impact player for the Giants, recording 78 tackles in his rookie season.
Williams has been a bit of a situational player for the majority of his career thus far, playing in specific packages. His strength is his speed, easily making him New York’s best cover linebacker. Williams has the ability to play zone and also line up against some of the league’s more athletic tight ends.
A group of Beason, McClain and Williams would give the Giants a very solid linebacker unit. Beason’s absence will hurt in the time being but he may only miss one week of the regular season. Coaches seem to like the progress Williams has made since the end of the 2013 season, which should spell good things for New York’s defense this year.