*Former Giant Antonio Pierce has been assisting the defense as a coaching intern this offseason: *
All along, we thought Antonio Pierce was at the facility to help players like B.J. Goodson. Really, he is coaching up Steve Spagnuolo.
Entering the third season of his second stint as the Giants' defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo has his old middle linebacker and captain on board as a coaching intern for the last two weeks of the offseason program. No one knew Spags' defense better than Pierce, who helped lead the Giants to a victory in Super Bowl XLII against one of the best offenses in the history of the game.
Ten years later, he's back.
"My man, I love that man," Spagnuolo said after Wednesday's minicamp practice. "Helps B.J.? Helps me. He helps me more than anything."
An undrafted linebacker out of Arizona in 2001, Pierce played four seasons in Washington before crossing over to Big Blue. From 2005 to 2009, Pierce started 69 games for the Giants and recorded 489 tackles, including 137 in his 2006 Pro Bowl campaign. The Giants hired Spagnuolo the following year and went on to spoil the Patriots' undefeated season.
Pierce is now sharing his wealth of knowledge with Goodson, that is, when he's not helping Spagnuolo.
After earning his stripes on special teams as a rookie last season, Goodson is in line to start at middle linebacker after Kelvin Sheppard was not re-signed in free agency. That means the fourth-round draft pick from Clemson is also responsible for calling the plays and lining up the entire defense, which no one did better than Pierce.
"Antonio is great," Spagnuolo said. "I'm glad he's here. I'm glad he's still enjoying the game of football. The things that Antonio can give a guy like B.J. go far beyond what the coaches can give. Antonio experienced it. He's in the middle of it. He used to do it when he played. He sees things that other people miss because he's a detailed guy and knows how to break down film. He's been doing a lot of that for me now, and he's in that linebackers room talking to those guys all the time."
The Pierce factor has already shown up on the field.
"[Goodson] has been great. He is really taking this thing on," Spagnuolo said. "It's important to him. He takes it serious. I don't believe he was a signal-caller at Clemson, at least that's what he told me, so this is a little bit new. And yet, I think every day we go out there, the guys get more and more confidence in him. That's huge."
View the best photos from the Giants' second minicamp practice