B.J. Goodson will be Giants' Week 1 starting MLB, if it was ever in doubt

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If there ever was any competition for the New York Giants' middle-linebacker position this summer, it’s over. B.J. Goodson is the man in the middle of their defense.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he will be their starting middle linebacker Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. It’s a job he’s earned by blowing away the competition, if there ever really was any.

It was Goodson's job to lose this spring and summer. At no point was it in doubt.

“Yeah, we have a lot of confidence in B.J.,” coach Ben McAdoo. “He gets better each and every day. He is taking it from the practice field to the game field. And he is working on ripping the ball out, he was doing a good job of that [Wednesday]. He is a guy that gets better with reps and we are excited for B.J.”

Goodson has excelled at every step of the way this year: OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason. McAdoo talked about how the Giants were physical in destroying some blocks in Monday night’s loss to the Cleveland Browns and singled out Goodson for his efforts.

Goodson -- whom the Giants drafted in the fourth round in 2016 -- had seven tackles and recorded a sack for the second consecutive game. He was all over the field.

It’s almost official: For the ninth consecutive season, the Giants will have a new starting middle linebacker for Week 1. It has gone from Antonio Pierce to Jonathan Goff to Greg Jones to Chase Blackburn to Dan Connor to Jon Beason to Uani Unga to Kelvin Sheppard to Goodson. The hope is that this one lasts more than a year.

The signs are there that Goodson could have some staying power. He’s 24 years old, runs well (was all over the field playing sideline to sideline in Cleveland) and plays with the physical, thumper style that excites the Giants coaching staff.

Goodson hasn't just played the part. He's looked it, too, with his leadership and presence in the huddle. There was one instance where Goodson had a back and forth with defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this summer the coach called “harsh.” But Spagnuolo enjoyed that tete-a-tete from his middle linebacker. He welcomes that fiery, take-control attitude.

Goodson fits the bill.

“I’m running the show [on the field]. So, at the end of the day, what I say goes,” he said. “The guys trust me. [Spagnuolo] trusts me and that’s what matters.”

Confident would be one way to describe Goodson. There is no taking a back seat at this point, even on a defense filled with proven and respected veterans.

In fact, Goodson has an abundance of confidence.

“Yeah. You’re right about that. But, it’s something that I’ve been practicing all last year,” he said. “Last year, I was preparing as if I was the starter and just the same thing. Just opportunity.”

With Keenan Robinson sidelined a good chunk of the summer with concussion problems, Goodson never really had anyone pushing him (other than himself) for the starting middle-linebacker job. Mark Herzlich, rookie Calvin Munson and Deontae Skinner were the other middle linebackers in camp.

Robinson's absence has also opened doors for Goodson to play an even bigger role than Sheppard did last season with a defense that allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL.

Sheppard played 41 percent of the defensive snaps last season, mostly in the base defense. Robinson was the nickel linebacker. He played 70 percent of the snaps even though he wasn’t a starter.

With Robinson sidelined much of the summer, Goodson received extra opportunities and showed potential as a three-down linebacker.

“I’ve been asked about being an every-down linebacker and I accept the challenge,” he said. “I feel like I fit in great. The coaches, they’re going to put the best guys that they see fit in there. So, when they call my number, I’m there.”

One place it’s bound to be called is Week 1 as the Giants’ starting middle linebacker.