Jessie Jr. Hoping to Make Switch to LB

The Giants have handed a rookie linebacker they drafted late jersey No. 98.

Yes, this sounded a little familiar to Jessie Armstead, too. That's why Armstead, a special assistant/consultant for the Giants, sought out Adrian Tracy before the Giants first rookie minicamp practice.

"That was definitely a shell-shock to me," an appreciative Tracy said, "to have him coaching me and saying to carry on the tradition of No. 98. So I kind of looked at clips of him on YouTube, when he played at Miami, and some of when he was playing up here. The biggest thing I got from that is just the attitude and the tenacity he had every time he played."

Playing at Armstead's level obviously is an excessive expectation. Armstead made five Pro Bowls, despite that he was an eighth-round pick out of Miami in 1993.

Tracy, a sixth-round draft choice, is eager to utilize Armstead's expertise. But before training camp begins he'll concentrate mostly on the adjustments of playing linebacker.

The 6-2, 248-pound Tracy was a four-year starter at defensive end for William & Mary, but every NFL franchise he spoke to before the draft indicated that he projected as a linebacker at this level. The Giants will try him on the strong side, but they realize he'll need time to adapt to playing a foreign position.

Tracy hasn't played linebacker regularly since his freshman year at Potomac Falls (Va.) High School, but he impressed the Giants scouts when he played linebacker in the Texas vs. The Nation college all-star game three months ago.

"He is athletic, tries hard," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "We have seen him [play linebacker] in an all-star game, so I think he can do it. It is going to take a little bit. There are a lot of things that take place when you are out there in space. He doesn't have his hand on the ground, like he has played most of his life."

Like Armstead, Tracy grew up rooting for the Cowboys. He hopes, though, that he can make this tricky transition from end and become the type of player Giants fans appreciate.

"I'm learning," Tracy said. "I'm getting more comfortable in my stance. I'm not in a rush to put my hand in the dirt, but wherever they need me is where I'll play. Right now, I'm trying the SAM linebacker spot out, seeing how that works. Hopefully I can make the transition and contribute."

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