|Mark Herzlich will start in place of the injured Chase Blackburn at middle linebacker for the Giants against the Steelers on Sunday. (US Presswire)|
The last time he started at middle linebacker for the Giants, Mark Herzlich suffered an ankle injury, which opened the door for the team to re-sign Chase Blackburn.
Since then, Blackburn has started every game for the Giants, accumulating 73 tackles, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and two sacks in 13 regular season games, as well as 16 postseason tackles and an interception in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory last February.
But due to the hamstring injury he suffered in last Sunday’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, Blackburn will be inactive against the Steelers this Sunday and Herzlich will be making the third start of his NFL career, coach Tom Coughlin told the media on Friday.
Blackburn isn’t the only Giants linebacker who will be sitting on Sunday. Jacquian Williams (knee) will miss his third consecutive game, while WLB Keith Rivers has been listed as “doubtful” because of a calf injury.
RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), TE Bear Pascoe (ankle) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) are all “questionable,” but Coughlin told reporters that S Stevie Brown will remain the starter, even if Phillips does play.
Brown, the reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week, has five picks so far this season, which prompted defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to say that his unit is prepared to go back to the three-safety formation they used last season now that Phillips is back.
C David Baas (ankle/elbow), S Antrel Rolle (concussion), DT Rocky Bernard (quadriceps) and WR Victor Cruz (calf) are all listed as “probable.”
Coughlin also said that David Diehl will start at right tackle for Sean Locklear. Diehl started the first two games of the season at that position, but suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2 and had been filling in as a blocking tight end for the last three weeks.
Diehl can play any position along the line besides center (LG Kevin Boothe can play center, however) so if any injury should occur, expect Locklear to be back in the lineup at tackle with Diehl or Boothe moving positions as needed.
Bernard’s return marks the first time the Giants will have their top three defensive tackles from last season -- Bernard, Linval Joseph and Chris Canty -- this year. Joseph has played exceptionally well this season (four sacks, 22 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recover), but Canty began the season on PUP because of offseason knee surgery and didn’t return to action until Week 7. Canty recorded a sack and six tackles in two games since his return.
Bernard had been out since Week 5, which meant the position was being manned by Joseph and youngsters Markus Kuhn (a 26-year-old rookie) and Marvin Austin (who is in his second season, but has just four games under his belt because of injuries).
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