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Mark Herzlich plans to earn a starting spot on Giants’ defense

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Two years ago, Mark Herzlich was getting himself back into shape and for a return to the field for Boston College after cancer forced him to miss a season. One year ago, Herzlich sat there at the NFL draft and waited and waited before realizing he wasn’t going to be selected. But now Herzlich is a linebacker for the Giants, and he thinks he’s ready to crack the starting lineup.

Herzlich, who started two games at middle linebacker last year, told the Star-Ledger he thinks the starting job can be his for 16 games this year.

It’s mine for the taking,” Herzlich said. “I wish the best for everybody else, but it’s still a competition. I want the team to do well, and if it’s not the spot that the coaches want me in, then that’s one thing. But the way I look at it is, there is a place that I can play and I don’t want anyone to take that away from me.”

Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley will also get a chance to earn the starting job in the middle, but whether Herzlich wins the job or not, he has already accomplished a lot more than anyone thought he would a year ago, when he went undrafted as teams questioned whether he could ever return to the form he showed as the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year, before he was diagnosed with cancer.

“If I was going to get drafted, there was going to be at least one team who overlooked the cancer and said, ‘All right, he’s taken a step past it, he’s on the way to being the player he was again,’” Herzlich said. “After round five, it’s like, ‘Okay, well no one’s looked past that.’ And so I kind of knew around rounds six and seven that it wasn’t going to happen.”

But Herzlich has made it happen for himself. And he’s not done proving everyone wrong.

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22 Responses to “Mark Herzlich plans to earn a starting spot on Giants’ defense”
  1. andreidan says: Apr 25, 2012 1:30 PM

    Jets need to trade away one of their 7th round picks for him. This guy is good.

  2. tcostant says: Apr 25, 2012 1:34 PM

    Didn’t the Giants just trade for a LB a few weeks ago?

  3. bozosforall says: Apr 25, 2012 1:34 PM

    Solid Midwestern values.

    Best of luck to you, Mark.

  4. n0hopeleft says: Apr 25, 2012 1:36 PM

    He’ll contribute heavily whether he starts or not. Dude is a warrior.

  5. otrd13 says: Apr 25, 2012 1:43 PM

    ‘solid midwestern values’ is an inherently contradictory statement…. that being said kid is gonna win the starting role if he can understand the defense. he has more talent than chase but was lost out there last year not knowing what to do. hopefully he’s the guy for years to come for big blue, amazing story and great person

  6. pnut87 says: Apr 25, 2012 1:44 PM

    Im getting this guys jersey.

  7. defiantgiant66 says: Apr 25, 2012 1:46 PM

    Hells yeah. Good luck Mark, Big Blue needs a player like you in the middle.

  8. mullman7675 says: Apr 25, 2012 1:51 PM

    Not a Giants fan, but definitely a Herzlich fan. Would rather hear his story trumpeted than having the Tebow bs shoved down my gullett.

  9. jakek2 says: Apr 25, 2012 2:01 PM

    As a Giants’ fan, I’m so pulling for this guy to be our next Antonio Pierce who also came into the league as a UFA and became an extremely key member of our defense.

  10. zaggs says: Apr 25, 2012 2:08 PM

    Herzlich owns probably the best tweet in Super Bowl history with “2 yrs ago I was told I might never walk again. Just WALKED off plane in Indy to play in The #SuperBowl. #TakeThatSh*tCancer”

  11. bigyankeemike says: Apr 25, 2012 2:28 PM

    He’s a great guy. A role model. But as an NFL linebacker, he’s not a starter.

    He looked lost out there last year when he started those two games, and he is extremely sub-par (and slow) when it comes to dropping back into coverage.

  12. chiadam says: Apr 25, 2012 2:29 PM

    If he sets out to be a starter, he will be a starter. I just don’t think any challenge scares him at this point.

  13. nflofficeadmin says: Apr 25, 2012 2:35 PM

    This kid beat cancer, i think he’ll be able to handle the pressure of competition.

  14. cooklynn17 says: Apr 25, 2012 2:35 PM

    Good luck Mark, I would love to see that happen. You sir, are an inspiration to all of us. All In.

    And funny thus story would break today, April 25th because 10 years ago today my wife lost her loving mother to cancer, so this story really hits home.

  15. aigraiders says: Apr 25, 2012 2:46 PM

    Watched him last year. The instincts are still there. The body is still playing catch up. He was a .5 sec late on being at the right spot. Hopefully, he gets faster this off season. Never count him out.

  16. manuich1 says: Apr 25, 2012 3:08 PM

    bigyankeemike says:
    Apr 25, 2012 2:28 PM
    He’s a great guy. A role model. But as an NFL linebacker, he’s not a starter.

    He looked lost out there last year when he started those two games, and he is extremely sub-par (and slow) when it comes to dropping back into coverage.

    —————————————————-

    Ummmm he just recovered from cancer, what did you expect for him to go out there and play at the same level of Patrick Willis. He pretty much just got done kicking cancers ass. It will be a VERY different season for him this year.

  17. east96st says: Apr 25, 2012 3:13 PM

    “He looked lost out there last year when he started those two games, and he is extremely sub-par (and slow) when it comes to dropping back into coverage.”

    Hmmmm, no chance that him being 1) a rookie 2) no training camp because of the lockout and 3) still not fully recovered from his battle with cancer had anything to do with that?

  18. challer9 says: Apr 25, 2012 3:30 PM

    “Solid Midwestern values.”

    If you consider Pennsylvania the midwest. Which it obviously isn’t.

  19. liquid872 says: Apr 25, 2012 3:38 PM

    midwestern values? Dudes, from Philly.

  20. icardfan says: Apr 25, 2012 4:07 PM

    Best of luck to the man. Wish he played for my Cards.

  21. granadafan says: Apr 25, 2012 4:20 PM

    Not a Giants fan, but I’m pulling for Herzlich to make it and star in the league. I lost my brother to cancer when he was only 19, so to read success stories like Herzlich or Lance Armstrong is truly inspirational.

  22. istallion says: Apr 25, 2012 4:35 PM

    Last year was baby steps. This year, those steps get bigger.

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