Dan Connor, Mark Herzlich have different takes on Giants’ MLB job
However, Connor considers the battle for the middle linebacker spot a low-key affair. Connor also claimed he would be happy with anyone taking over at the position as long the job across the middle gets done.
“For me it’s a non-issue, it’s whoever’s in there, whoever can get the job done is the guy,’’ Connor said. “We want to win, it sounds cliché, but that’s what keeps the city happy, keeps you employed and keeps things smooth. So whoever’s in there, whoever can do it, I hope they’re in there.”
“If it’s me, if it’s Mark, if it’s anyone. There are so many guys who can do it,” Connor continued. “By the time the opener starts each guy will have his role. As far as I’m concerned it’s really not a pride thing at all. This is my sixth year, I’m happy to be employed.’’
While Connor’s big speech says a lot about his team spirit, Herzlich believed his competition was probably being modest.
“It is a big deal. I would like to start,” Herzlich said. “I think he (Connor) would probably like to start as well. He’s a competitive guy and I know he wants to be on the field making plays, too.”
As a returning player, Herzlich – who is heading into his third season with the Giants – began camp a top the Giants’ depth chart. However, he’s being constantly pushed by Connor for the starting middle linebacker job. Connor appeared more consistent in the Giants preseason opener win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and this past week he got increased reps with the first team defense – a likely indication that he could start the second preseason game.
However, none of the Giants’ linebackers seem to be a lock at the middle spot, with the team expected to keep as many as six players in rotation.
“I think they worked together well as a group,” Fewell said of the Giants’ linebackers unit. “I like the combinations that we use in practice and that we’ve used in the game.’’
On Herzlich and Connor, Fewell said: “Both players are outstanding players in my opinion, and both bring different things to the table for us. We’ll work both combinations.”
As far as experience goes, Connor has 27 career starts to match Herzlich’s 4 starts over a much younger career. However, Herzlich has the advantage of being familiar with defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s scheme, after playing under him since signing with the Giants as an undrafted rookie in 2011.
“Anyone that wants to earn a starting spot has to go out and make plays on game day. You can work hard in practice, and that goes far,” Connor said. “Coach Coughlin really respects that, but it’s what you do when the lights are on that’s going to win or lose you your job.’’