EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. ó When the New York Giants released Michael Boley in a salary-cap move after missing the playoffs last season, many expected Jacquian Williams to inherit the weakside linebacker job.
It didnít happen.
The Giants are making Williams work for the starting gig, and they are not making it easy for the third-year pro who missed six games in 2012 with a knee injury.
When training camp opened last week, Spencer Paysinger, whose experience has been mostly on special teams in two seasons, worked with the first team. Williams went on with the second unit.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin didnít say why Paysinger has the nod for now. However, he said Williams has to prove he can stay on the field, something he did as a rookie, making 61 tackles.
Williams sidestepped questions about playing behind Paysinger, saying itís early in camp and heís just working hard to impress the coaches.
ďNah, itís not disappointing,Ē Williams said. ďItís just this time, continue to keep pushing forward, my opportunity will come. Itís only what, day three, day four? Itís time. I have my time to prove myself just like he will.Ē
Williams might be the only linebacker the Giants have who can stay on the field in all situations. He is quick, covers tight ends well in passing situations and he isnít afraid to take on a runner.
ďThatís the goal,Ē Williams said. ďMy goal is to be the guy that we can count on, the guy that you count on you never take him out. I donít want to come out. I want to be the guy they can trust.Ē
A sixth-round draft pick in 2011 who made contributions to the Giantsí Super Bowl win that season, Williams was a rising star until straining a posterior lateral ligament against San Francisco on Oct 14. The team never said which knee. He struggled to get back and he didnít return until early December, and wasnít very effective.
He was limited even in the minicamp in June.
ďIím good. I worked hard this offseason, been a long way coming back from the injury,Ē Williams said. ďIt definitely was a humbling experience to watch guys out there play.Ē
The linebacker position might be the most open spot on the roster. Besides losing Boley, middle linebacker Chase Blackburn was signed by Carolina and strongside linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka has been moved back to defensive end.
ďItís an open opportunity for everybody,Ē said Williams, who was defensive end Jason Pierre-Paulís former teammate at South Florida. ďWeíre gonna stick together. The position is not for the person, itís for the position.Ē
Williams has been impressive in recent days. He knocked down two passes on Monday, insisting he probably should have intercepted one.
When the team put shoulder pads on for the first time Tuesday, Williams knocked second-year tight end Adrien Robinson to the grass covering a pass, and was in the backfield breaking up a run seconds later.
ďFor me itís the mental game, knocking down balls, doing things like that,Ē he said. ďIíve been doing that since Pee Wee so thatís nothing different. Yeah, just to get back out there and have the guys jumping around and being excited for me, I feel at home.Ē
NOTES: The defense seemed to have the better of the play for the second straight day. CBs Aaron Ross and Junior Mertile intercepted passes for the second straight practice and LB Aaron Curry added another. ... New York experimented with a jumbo defensive line, playing Justin Tuck and Cullen Jenkins at the ends and Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers inside. ... Eli Manning threw a red-zone TD to Victor Cruz, while Curtis Painter, No. 4 on the depth chart, hit Jerrel Jernigan for a score. ... Rookie QB Ryan Nassib hasnít looked good going deep. His passes float and wobble. ... First-round draft choice OT Justin Pugh got beat a couple of times, and later got an earful from line coach Pat Flaherty after an illegal procedure penalty. ... LB Dan Connor and DE Adewale Ojomo scuffled briefly on a kick coverage drill. No punches were thrown.MORE IN Sports Wire
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