EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They do not know yet how much he will be able to play in next Monday Night's season opener in Detroit. But after middle linebacker Jon Beason missed every training camp practice because of a foot injury, the New York Giants were excited to see their defensive team leader practicing with them Monday morning.
"His presence on the practice field is going to change things," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's upbeat, flying around a million miles an hour, encouraging other people to be better. It's just how hard he plays. He shows a great example. He loves the game. It's great to have him back out there."
Coughlin said the plan for Beason is to practice a set number of plays in the three practices the Giants have later this week -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- and then to determine based on that how much he will be able to play Monday Night. Beason's hope is to start at middle linebacker, but the Giants are comfortable if they have to use Jameel McClain in that spot and rookie Devon Kennard on the strong side, as they did during training camp and the preseason.
"We have great personalities, guys who can do a little bit of everything," Beason said of his fellow Giants linebackers. "I think it's a great room. I have tremendous confidence in everybody we have."
But having Beason on the field makes a difference, as players who were on the team in 2013 were quick to point out. The Giants were without an answer at middle linebacker until they traded for Beason early in the 2013 season, and they credit him for much of the turnaround their defense made following the team's 0-6 start.
"It's good to see him back," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "He's a hell of a player. He came out last year when we needed him and did a great job, and it was tough to see him go down with an injury. Having him back makes our defense better."
The fact that Beason was cleared to come off the PUP list and resume practicing this week indicates that he will be at full strength sooner rather than later. Even if he's not able to handle a full starter's workload in Week 1, he will be able to make some sort of contribution, and it shouldn't be long before he is back doing what he did for the Giants last season.