The New York Giants are yet to add a major threat to one of their greatest positions of need: linebacker. The Giants did add Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard, but neither of these players are a set-in-stone starter, or even pose a major concern to an opponent.
Devon Kennard is the only linebacker on the team that is guaranteed to have a starting role this upcoming season. On Thursday, Kennard had a chance to address the media regarding not only what he has done thus far this offseason, but also his view on the upcoming season.
Kennard was asked many questions regarding his injuries from 2015, and what he has done in the offseason to heal. Kennard was asked: “What are you doing differently?
“Most definitely," said Kennard on whether he will adjust his training regimen this year. "I am not worried about the past. I had some hamstring issues and a foot issue last year and I am making sure I change the way I train and going into [year three] now I have learned a lot and I have just moved past all of that and I am not worried about all of that. It is a New Year, new opportunity and I feel like what I have been doing this offseason is going to prepare me to play, God willing, 24 games”.
The third-year linebacker isn't looking in the rear view, but understands that he'll need to make some adjustments moving forward.
“It is just the way I have been training," noted Kennard. "[Increasing] the amount I train throughout the day and doing a lot of hamstring stuff. The hamstring really out of nowhere became an issue in the past, but like I said, I am not worried about what has happened these last two seasons, it is all about this coming year and that is behind me”.
Kennard was drafted in the fifth round by the Giants, and to the surprise of many, is relevant two years later. It isn’t often that a fifth round pick can stay around and assume a starting role, but Kennard has worked hard and earned his spot. With that said, he has developed a negative view by many, simply due to his inability to stay on the field. Kennard dealt with a lingering hamstring injury, as well as a foot issue that kept him sidelined for much of the 2015 season. If Kennard is able to fully heal and play a full season, the Giants will benefit greatly from his coverage skills.
Kennard also stated that he lost some weight this offseason, going from 254 pounds to 251 pounds, and expects to cut off a few more pounds. Although it is a mere 3 pounds that he lost, it is a good sign for the Giants that Kennard is aggressively working to stay in football shape and prepare for the season. His weight loss will allow him to play with more versatility, being able to cover smaller and quicker targets, and become an impact rushing the passer.
As most players are, Kennard is very excited and motivated with all of the money the Giants have invested into the defense this offseason.
"I was excited," admitted Kennard. "I remember I was working out in Arizona and I see on the ticker on the TV some of the moves we were making, and it is exciting, especially when it is defensive players and we know we have some more guys coming in to help us and we still have the draft ahead, so it is an exciting time."
With a lack of defensive talent in previous years, Kennard is embracing the Giants’ revamped, and threatening defense. Kennard must continue to play a ball-hawk type of role by reading the QB and covering tight ends and slot receivers. Kennard will take his play to the next level if he is able to improve his pursuit against the run. The former USC standout hasn’t been known as a run-stopper, but adding that to his game would be an extra boost for him and the Giants. The key for Kennard in 2016 will be staying on the field, and away from the medical staff. With a new weight room, new strength and conditioning coach, and many other changes, the Giants have certainly done their part to keep players on the field, now it is up to Kennard to take care of his body so that he can have a healthy 2016 season.