Jonathan Casillas gives advice to probable starting middle linebacker BJ Goodson:
Big Blue returned almost all of its crew this season, but the defense does have a new pilot.
Second-year linebacker B.J. Goodson is in the chair right now, leading the huddle and making the calls on the field. That is a tall order for a sophomore who played only 13 defensive snaps as a rookie. Therefore, it's a good thing he has a trained co-pilot.
"He's done a great job in controlling the huddle. It's a lot to ask for a Mike linebacker," Jonathan Casillas said. "The Mike is the guy in the middle, and he's the guy who gets everybody lined up. I try to be as good of a co-pilot as I possibly can be to him. But he's the pilot of the ship. He's been doing a real good job in getting us lined up and making the calls and actually making plays and just being a force out there."
Goodson waited in the wings last season as a fourth-round draft pick from Clemson. He played primarily on special teams, but after the Giants did not re-sign Kelvin Sheppard, Goodson became the next man up.
The advice that Casillas, a two-time Super Bowl champion (XLIV with New Orleans and XLIX with New England) and last year's defensive captain, gave to Goodson was the same he gives to all young players.
"Every day you should be learning," he said. "Every day you should be studying. Treat it like the next day is your final [exam] and you haven't studied, so study your butt off every day. Most of these guys are physically ready. These guys have been training for the combine and for whatever pro day that they had, and so they come in to OTAs and they're pretty much in shape.
"The physical part is really not their worries. It's more of the mental part and trying to stay up to speed because [Steve Spagnuolo's] defense is not easy. It's not simple. It's a little complicated, especially for the defensive ends, the safeties, and the linebackers. So it can be a lot. Just keep studying and prepare every day to basically be a starter."
Meanwhile, the young players have a wealth of accomplished veterans to rely on this year. The Giants will trot out most of the same lineup that allowed a league-low 25 offensive touchdowns in 2016.
"[That continuity] definitely sprung us into OTAs," Casillas said. "There's a lot of carryover from last year. Spags is not putting too much on us [that is] new. So that's always a good thing. The continuity is there, and there's a lot of trust there as well. And I think it's easier for the new guys coming in – Dalvin Tomlinson, the new rookie in Avery Moss. Those guys coming in see guys that know what they're doing, knowing where they're supposed to be at, and can point them in the right direction."