The New York Giants have beefed up their linebacker corps this offseason, adding a top off-ball guy in free agent Bobby Okereke and re-signing Jarrad Davis.
Last year, the Giants were very thin at inside linebacker with the injury to rookie Darrian Beavers and the underperformance of players such as Tae Crowder (who was released), leaving them to start players such as journeyman Jaylon Smith, Austin Calitro and rookie Micah McFadden before bringing in Davis near the end of the season.
McFadden played in all 17 regular season games, starting seven, playing 38.5 percent of the defensive snaps. He shone at times but his inexperience was evident.
This summer, with a year of NFL experience under his belt and the competition at inside linebacker ramping up with the new additions (including UDFAs Troy Brown and Dyontae Johnson), McFadden must take that Year 2 leap to secure a roster spot.
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is excited in general about the unit but told reporters this week that McFadden is making strides.
“It’s all a competition right now with he and J.D. (Jarrad Davis), and I’ll tell you, Micah has really improved,” he said.
The main off-ball linebacker this season will likely be Okereke who the Giants inked to a four-year, $40 million deal in March.
“It’s fun to watch him play because of his size, his strength, but most of all, he’s a good guy,” Martindale said of the former Stanford and Indianapolis Colts star. “He’s a really intelligent kid that knows football, and it’s not hard to talk football with him. So, all those things have been great, and we’ve just got to get ready to take the next step. Which for me is vacation.”