EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today returned to work after the bye week with one of their most significant announcements of the season, that middle linebacker and defensive leader Jon Beason will undergo season-ending toe surgery.
Beason is the second of the team's five captains to be lost for the remainder of the season; two weeks ago, wide receiver Victor Cruz was placed on injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair a torn patellar tendon suffered on Oct. 12 in Philadelphia.
"It's disappointing," said Jameel McClain, who will replace Beason beginning next Monday, when the Giants host the Indianapolis Colts. "Jon, he's amazing. First off, thinking about Jon, I know how much of a warrior he is and how competitive he is, so it's disappointing on that side of it, to be in his shoes, because I've been there before. As a team, we lose a great leader. We lose someone in a certain aspect because I know Jon and Jon will be here and will be coaching us all up and giving us all of the tips that he has because he's just a sharing person like that. We lose someone great in that aspect it."
"Hopefully, we're not going to lose anything in terms of his presence," coach Tom Coughlin said. "I think he's probably going to have to be away a little bit, but then he'll return and we'll have him in meetings, etcetera. I'm looking forward to that part, anyway."
Beason's toe has been an issue since June 12, when he suffered a ligament tear and a small fracture to the sesamoid in his right foot during an OTA workout. After he was examined by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., Beason said he would recover and return to the field without surgery. He missed training camp and the entire preseason, but started the regular-season-opener in Detroit on Sept. 8.
But Beason was unable to stay on the field. He left the next game, against Arizona, with a toe injury, and missed the three games after that. Beason returned for the game against the Eagles, but the following week in Dallas he was again forced off the field early. Beason returned to Charlotte and after another meeting with Dr. Anderson, the decision was made to have the surgery.
"Let's get him right," Coughlin said.
The coach was asked if Beason should have had the operation in June.
"Why would you even want to go there?" Coughlin said. "We got the guy on the field, he tried it, it actually became a little bit different kind of an injury but the same area. He gave it everything he had and he had the doctor's approval. Unfortunately, it didn't work."
Beason has been a popular and productive player since he arrived in a trade with Carolina on Oct. 4, 2013. Last year, he finished second on the team in tackles, despite playing in only 11 games on defense. Prior to this season, Beason was elected a team captain, a significant honor for a player who had been here less than a year.
In his four games this season, Beason had 11 tackles (six solo) and broke up a pass.
Now his position belongs to McClain, who joined the Giants as a free agent in March after six seasons with the Baltimore Ravens. He played on the strong side when Beason was on the field, and moved to the middle when he wasn't. McClain is third on the team with 40 tackles (22 solo).
"McClain's played well when he's been in there," Coughlin said.
"It's obviously tough when a leader and someone that's skilled goes off the field," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "But McClain, I've said this a number of times, has not gotten enough credit or respect for how much he has contributed to our team. Beason is now officially done, but he's been in and out and Jameel's stepped in every single time, no questions asked. He's moved over from one side to the other when Jon was back in, so there's no doubt in my mind that he can get the job done. He's already gotten it done."
McClain frequently manned the middle when he was with the Ravens, so the move now will cause him no stress.
"My role is my role," he said. "My role has been what it's always been – to go in there and play wherever necessary, to go in any position. I don't know what it changes in a leadership role for me. I think I'll just continue to be myself and continue to play linebacker. Who knows, next week they might say, 'Jameel, play SAM,' or ask me to play something else. That's just who I am and that's just what I'm accustomed to being."
In the three games McClain played in the middle, Mark Herzlich started on the strong side. Rookie Devon Kennard, who was the strongside backer in the preseason, is also available.
"He's ready," Coughlin said. "He'll be a backup in there. He doesn't have to be the starter."
But with Beason sidelined, McClain, Kennard and the rest of the healthy linebackers must all be conspicuous and consistent contributors.
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