Mark Herzlich will start for the New York Giants on Sunday versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. He will not only improve the team's defense this week and going forward, but he will also be an emotional leader for Big Blue.
As a cancer survivor, Herzlich never gave up on his dream to play football in the NFL, and the hard work and dedication he's shown to make it where he is today is truly inspiring.
Herzlich's presence on the field will help the Giants defense in a tough matchup against the Steelers, who are once again a top team in the AFC.
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The Giants' defense ranks 26th against the pass this season and 19th against the run, and Herzlich will play a key role in the team improving in both these areas.
Herzlich is a better run stopper than Chase Blackburn, whom he is replacing at linebacker this week. He's also a better tackler than Blackburn and is better in coverage.
The Steelers like to use their running backs in the passing game, so expect Herzlich to focus on Pittsburgh running back Isaac Redman coming out of the backfield on Sunday. The last time Redman played was in Week 6 versus the Tennessee Titans when he caught four passes for 105 yards.
As a team, the Steelers rank seventh in passing offense, and if the Giants are to be successful in this matchup, they have to pressure quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Herzlich is good in blitz situations and will be able to chase down Roethlisberger when he scrambles outside of the pocket. The former Boston College linebacker is a good athlete and has a high football IQ.
Special teams will be a really important part of this game, and this is an area where Herzlich has excelled in this season. Expect Herzlich to continue to be a key part of the special teams packages even though he will play a bigger role in the defense on Sunday.
Herzlich's physical play and overall talent will be a huge upgrade to the Giants' defense against the Steelers and in the weeks to come. He will inspire his teammates to give 100 percent effort on each play as they continue toward their goal of repeating as Super Bowl champions.