Linebacker B.J. Goodson has been bringing the wood at training camp, but has anybody told him to cool it down a bit yet? After all, he won’t be hitting anyone in a different jersey until next Friday night, when the Giants open the preseason against the Steelers.
“No,” he said as he nearly cracked a smile. “No. The New York Giants are a tough, hard-nosed football team. That’s what we’re known for.”
And that’s the reputation of the sophomore linebacker.
After playing just 13 defensive snaps as a rookie fourth-round pick last season, the Clemson product was tasked with becoming the starting middle linebacker in his second year. Through OTAs, minicamp, and seven training camp practices, including Friday’s jog-through, Goodson is looking the part.
“I’ve definitely heard that there’s a certain personality that a linebacker has,” Goodson said. “I bring that aura of … just people want to be around a middle linebacker. There’s just a certain feeling of wellness being around a middle linebacker. Just making sure everybody is in the right position, making sure the other 10 guys are comfortable and ready to do their jobs, I embrace it.”
His head coach sees the same thing.
“Every time you see him move, he moves around like a MIKE linebacker,” Ben McAdoo said. “We’re excited to see what he can do for us.”
While he’s received praise for making the right calls and setting the tempo so far, as All-Pro safety Landon Collins pointed out, there is a major difference between the friendly confines of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and AT&T Stadium, where the Giants open the season against the reigning NFC East champion Cowboys.
Repetition is key to building chemistry and gaining the trust of veterans.
“I’ve been working hard,” Goodson said. “I’ve been preparing to be the starter ever since I got here. Obviously, I didn’t get a chance to start my rookie year, but day in and day out, I’ve been preparing like the starter, like I said, when I got here. The opportunity has come.”
What makes him better in Year 2?
“Just being me,” he said. “Getting better a day at a time and one percent better at something a day at a time. If it’s something in the meeting room, if it’s footwork, if it’s hand placement, anything. You can get better at something, and I always say that. The coaches are still on me about that.”
While he wants to be himself, it wouldn’t hurt to be a little like former Giants linebacker and Super Bowl XLII champion Antonio Pierce, who has been assisting the coaching staff.
“A.P. has been helping me out a lot on being more of just a vocal leader and having to stand for the defense and being a strong leader,” Goodson said. “Be that guy that the rest of the defense has to look up to, especially when times get rough.”