On a conference call on Friday, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin reportedly said that linebacker Jon Beason has been cleared to return to practice on Monday.
Beason missed all of training camp this offseason after fracturing a sesamoid in his right foot during OTAs. Beason and the Giants considered themselves lucky when they found out the injury would not require surgery.
Obviously, it will all depend on Beason’s reaction and progress, but the middle linebacker could very well be ready and available for New York’s season opener against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 8.
Beason joined the Giants mid-season last year and made his first in-game appearance Week 6 against the Bears. The 29-year-old linebacker was an immediate impact player and leader among the Big Blue defense. Although, he played just 12 games for the Giants in 2013, Beason finished with 93 tackles, good enough for second on the team (behind only Antrel Rolle).
Without knowledge of the timetable for Beason’s foot injury, the loss initially seemed to be devastating.
However, in Beason’s absence, offseason-acquisition Jameel McClain shifted from the outside to the middle and proved to be a very suitable replacement. The loss of Beason still hurt but McClain made the defense’s transition without Beason a little smoother.
Rookie Devon Kennard out of USC stepped into the starting lineup on the outside in McClain’s spot as the strong-side linebacker. Kennard is a very versatile player, as he also took snaps as the middle linebacker this offseason.
Jacquian Williams rounded out New York’s linebacker unit, occupying the weak side.
McClain’s veteran leadership and Kennard’s unexpected play has created a solid group of linebackers for the Giants. With the return of Beason, McClain will slide back to the strong side and Kennard will play a reserve role, giving New York better depth along the unit.
Beason’s return is absolutely huge for this Giants defense. The offense’s struggles could put a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense and Beason can elevate New York’s play with great pursuit of the football and leadership, both, on and off the field.