The Giants released linebacker Jasper Brinkley this week to make room for quarterback Josh Johnson on the 53-man roster, which means he won’t be their seventh starting middle linebacker in seven years.
Brinkley was the starter at middle linebacker for much of the 2015 season. Antonio Pierce in 2009 was the last player to make a repeat appearance in the middle of the defense.
Brinkley was preceded by Uani ‘Unga, Mark Herzlich, Jon Beason, Chase Blackburn, Greg Jones and Jonathan Goff. Herzlich is the only player on that list currently on an active roster. This year’s addition to the list will be Kelvin Sheppard or Keenan Robinson.
“It depends on what package we’re in,” coach Ben McAdoo said, via Newsday. “We can throw a variety of linebackers out there. I think Kelvin has definitely earned an opportunity. He showed well in the preseason games and has done well in practice. He’s a great communicator and we’re excited to have him here.”
Injuries have helped propel the revolving door at linebacker as has the team’s reluctance to use draft picks in the first few rounds on linebackers. Mileage will vary on how much connection to draw between that lack of continuity and the Giants’ overall defensive issues in recent years, but there’s no doubt that the Giants have to put an end to that trend even as the linebacker one continues.